After the Elections... Then What?
Minneapolis & St. Paul Elections 2022
Unfinished Business at the Legislature and a New Biennial Budget
During the last legislative session, Minnesota lawmakers failed to come to agreement on spending plans for a $9B dollar budget surplus. At a time when the cost of gas, food and nearly all essential and nonessential goods and services hit an all-time high, an extra nine billion dollars was left untouched in our public coffers. Additional stimulus checks for nearly every household and a gas tax suspension were proposals that didn’t make it off the house and/or senate floor, due to a divided legislature. The agreed upon bonus pay for frontline workers took a big hit, too, whittling down from as much as $1500 to less than $500 for people who worked in hospitals, elder care facilities, schools, daycares, airlines and many other industries during the deadliest pandemic of most of our lives.
Deciding how to spend these surplus dollars, proposing changes to our current biennial budget, and passing a new biennial budget will be the task of the newly elected body once the legislative session begins in January 2023. The legislature will convene around budget and committee hearings to amend
this second year of our current budget biennium. This process may help inform the governor’s 2024-2025 budget proposal, which he presents to legislators at the end of January. The Minnesota Management and Budget Department issues its February Forecast of state revenues and expenditures, presenting to its home committee. Over the ensuing 3 – 4 months, budget and committee hearings will take place and bills will be debated before a new 2024 – 2025 biennial budget is adopted by the legislature at the end of May, and signed by the governor.
During this time, there are many opportunities for the general public to weigh in on how our public dollars should be spent. Contact your legislators by calling or writing. Be heard by attending and speaking at budget hearings. Arrange a time with committee staff prior to a scheduled hearing. Stay up to date on when hearings take place by visiting the online combined legislative meeting calendar, once meeting dates for 2023 are published, in January, found at www.leg.mn.gov/cal.
The Supreme Court’s decision to allow states to restrict abortion access is a major, divisive issue and will guide how millions of Americans across the nation cast their vote this election. Will Minnesota remain a state where a woman’s autonomy over her body is upheld and reproductive freedoms are protected?
We need a cannabis policy at the state level to address taxation, legalization, anti-displacement and programs and resources to increase racial equity in the cannabis industry. Currently, cities across the state are responding to this year’s surprise legislation, which legalized THC edibles derived from hemp, in drastically different ways – from implementing a moratorium, or ban, on sales, to creating a licensing fee structure, to proposing regulations, to taking no action at all.
Tax revenues to the tune of an estimated $46 million dollars have been left on the table. That is money that could and should fund equity programs and provisions. We need a policy that also includes automatic expungement for marijuana arrests. This is a racial justice issue.
In addition to reproductive rights and regulations on legalized THC products, key issues at the State are voting rights and voter protections, public safety, police accountability, and the continued push to fully legalize recreational cannabis for adult use.
Advocating for Yourself and Your Community with Elected Officials
We vote to select leaders to work on issues that matter to us and our community. Laws, policies, programs and budgets are proposed and issued at every level of government. Learn which governing body decides on the issues and decide how you will engage, i.e. through political party, advocacy groups or as an individual. Call, email or write your representatives at any time on the issues that matter to you. Stay informed on their positions by signing up for their newsletters. Most importantly, VOTE! Stay informed on their positions by signing up for their newsletters. Most importantly, VOTE!
To find out who represents you and how to contact them, visit: www.sos.state.mn.us/elections-
J. Deebaa Sirdar
Guest Editor, Black Votes Matter MN
NOVEMBER 8, 2022