Useful resources as conference committees get started

The House and Senate have been passing omnibus bills galore over the last several days. And that means it’s time to appoint conference committees to reconcile the differences between the two bodies. The House and Senate will each appoint 5 members to each conference committee. The House is maintaining a list of appointments on its Web site. That’s the best place to look for the latest information.

In addition, side-by-side comparisons of House and Senate language for each of the conference committees will be available on the the Revisor’s office Web site (a few have already been posted). If you are going to a conference committee hearing, it’s handy to print this out beforehand so you can follow along with the discussion. There is also another type of side-by-side comparison that summarizes the provisions in the two bills (rather than including the actual bill language). In the past, this summary version of the side-by-side usually hasn’t been posted online (although sometimes you can find it on the relevant committee’s Web site), so you may just have to be at the hearing at the right time to get a copy.

And you can also find the spreadsheets (called “tracking sheets”) detailing the fiscal impacts of the House and Senate proposals at Senate Fiscal Analysis and House Fiscal Analysis.

Remember, according to the deadlines the House and Senate agreed on at the beginning of the session, all omnibus conference committees must complete their work by next Thursday, May 7!

But before conference committees can put together a final bill, House and Senate leadership will have to agree on a new set of “targets” for each committee. How they will compromise on some significant differences remains to be seen: How much (if any) will they raise in revenues? Will they use targeted spending cuts or across the board cuts? Will they shift education spending? And, most significantly, will the Governor be part of these negotiations?

There are just three weeks left in session…and the hardest part still lies ahead of us.

-Christina Wessel

About Christina Wessel

Christina served as the Minnesota Budget Project's deputy director until January 2014.
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