To say these are unsettled times in the political world, is a significant understatement.
First, implementation of Real ID is caught up in the challenges facing the Department of Public Safety as it works to implement a new system for vehicle registration. There have been several staff “adjustments” in the last week that will alter the responsibility for the program. Challenges remain going forward and I suspect there will be a bump or two more in the program before completion.
Second, the budget forecast will be issued in early December. This will give a sense of the fiscal health of the state as we end the year. There will be another critical forecast issued in late February which will directly impact legislative activity during the 2018 Legislative Session.
Third, Minnesota is not immune to the national conversation on sexual harassment. Those of us with experience at the Capitol are amazed that some of these revelations are being shared. It is a very difficult time and so much history is tied to these events. I am sure there are a variety of opinions out there on this topic, so I will only say that for those women who have lived through the events they now are publicly revealing, I can only offer my respect. I would not be so brave. I also hope that everyone is cautious as these conversations continue – if the dialogue is not sincere, respectful, and truthful, there will be significant unnecessary pain.
The two special elections resulting from the sexual harassment revelations only contribute to a more intense political environment. The Senate race is of concern to both parties with the closely divided MN Senate. Add to that, the recent overture by the Governor to the Legislature to make amends and move forward from the litigation on the legislative budget, and you have the recipe for a volatile Legislative Session. The 2018 elections will cast a shadow over the session, both at the state and the national level.
It is unclear how the legislative leaders and the Governor will work together in 2018. The wounds are still deep from the litigation and the Supreme Court ruling in favor of the Governor (sort of that is). The Governor is losing key staff as he enters his final year in office so dynamics in and out of his office will change.
This will be my last column. While I will be available until the end of the year, I wanted to take this opportunity to wish each one of you the very best of the upcoming holiday season. Please make sure and make time for what is important in life – family and friends. You never know when you will run out of the time we all take for granted. It has been a journey of 22 years with this organization and I am grateful for the opportunity to work with all of you. Good luck with the challenges ahead.