We almost had a federal government shutdown several months ago and now it appears Minnesota may be standing on the same precipice. The state’s constitution prohibits the legislature from meeting in regular session “after the first Monday following the third Saturday in May of any year” which is today (May 23). With no budget in place, this could be a shutdown of all but “essential services” after July 1, similar to what occurred in the state in 2005.
In that year, the state’s courts became involved in a series of lawsuits to determine what exactly was an “essential service.” A former Supreme Court justice was appointed a special master at the request of the Governor and Attorney General to help determine what was an “essential service” just days before the July 1 deadline. The special master immediately ordered the protection of services essential to the life, health and safety and those critical to maintaining or preserving public property and functioned for 2 weeks until the stalemate was resolved.
HB 1753 would avoid having a similar court fight over “essential services”, providing, other laws notwithstanding, “except for funding for public safety, a court may not order any expenditure of an amount in the treasury to fund any operation of state government.” Explicitly “trumped” by HB 1753 are the authorization or jurisdiction statutes for all three levels of court in the state: Supreme Court (Minn. Stat 480.04), Court of Appeals, (480A.06) and District Court (484.01).
The bill is currently pending in the House Committee on Ways & Means.