Here's why there might be a surge of activity at the State Capitol Friday

It's now-or-never time for bills that haven't gotten the OK from a committee yet.
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Here's something we've noticed about the Minnesota Legislature: it seems like most of the work they get done happens right before the deadline. (Or sometimes even after the deadline in a special session.)

Fellow procrastinators can relate.

But here's the thing about Friday: it's the first deadline of the legislative session. When the clock strikes midnight and Friday turns to Saturday, any bills that have not been approved by a committee get taken off the Legislature's table.

Why have this 'first deadline?'

Granted, this is sort of a sub-deadline. Because the big one comes on May 22, when the legislative session has to end under rules laid out in the Minnesota Constitution.

As this legislative primer explains, what this deadline does is narrow down the long list of things they're talking about at the Capitol. A whole lot of ideas and proposals get introduced in the early part of the session. But there comes a time when you have to get serious about separating what might actually get done from what's not gonna happen this time around.

This year the leaders of the House and Senate have agreed that Friday is that time. To stay alive for 2017 a bill has to have committee approval in either the House or Senate.

A second deadline comes one week later, on March 17. By then a bill has to have committee approval in both the House and Senate.

An exception for the money committees

Every rule has an exception, right? The deadlines we just mentioned are for what are sometimes called "policy" committees. There's a separate deadline (March 31 this year) for the committees that deal with raising and spending money, like the Capital Investment, Finance, and Tax Committees.

Deal making

As it becomes now-or-never time for bills at the Capitol, the horse trading shifts into a higher gear.

For example, MPR News reported this week on a bill to approve six weeks of paid parental leave for state employees. It hasn't had a committee vote yet, so it could die on the vine Friday night.

The DFL Senator who wrote the bill told the network "I certainly hope it's not a bargaining chip," while Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka said "...there are a number of issues like that that are on the table and we’ll take a look at a number of things together.”

By the way, the 2017 Legislature has already accomplished several things, including subsidizing some health insurance coverage and letting liquor stores open on Sundays. You can see the laws they've already passed here and keep up with everything else they're doing here.

Happy deadline day!

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