Does the Trifecta Still Exist?

In the wee hours of Monday morning, freshman Senator Nicole Mitchell (DFL-Woodbury) was arrested for first-degree burglary. As details have trickled out throughout the week, providing a constant stream of gossip and speculation, the key question is whether she will ever return to the legislature. The Senate met twice this week, but Sen. Mitchell was not present, either in person or virtually. The Senate DFL Party has had a tenuous 34-33 majority, and without Sen. Mitchell’s vote, the Senate is currently at a stand still to pass anything but non-controversial motions. At this time, not only is it unclear how the legislative session will end, but it is unclear whether the Democrats still have a Senate majority.

Time is Running Short

Only three weeks remain before the May 20th Legislative adjournment date. The Senate had planned to pass about a half dozen bills off the floor this week, but those plans were dashed due to Sen. Mitchell’s absence. While the House is continuing to advance legislation as planned, both the House and Senate were down to a tight time schedule to pass, conferee and repass more than a dozen omnibus bills. With the loss of any real action in the Senate this week, that timeline is quickly shrinking.

Legislative Days are Running Even Shorter

Typically, a solution to the short three-week timeframe would be to simply meet over the weekend. However, as we had mentioned earlier in the legislative session, last year the Legislature used up far more legislative days (any day either the House or Senate meets on the floor) than normal. After today, only 14 legislative days remain.

Number One Priority Yet to Come

In addition to the various omnibus bills that are queued up, the Legislature’s stated number one priority for the session—a capital investment bill—is still in the works. The House has announced that it will release its list of proposed projects on Sunday, and that it intends to pass the bill out of committee by mid-week. The Senate has yet to release its recommendations. Requiring a super-majority to pass off the floor, the capital investment bill was expected to be the crowning achievement of this session, but its fate remains as uncertain as everything else.

Impact on 2024 Elections

As legislative leaders continue discussions for how to end this session, what will be left unsaid is the expected impact on the 2024 election cycle, which could be substantial. The entire Minnesota House of Representatives will be up for election, and many Republicans have been feeling upbeat about their prospects of taking over the majority. Additionally, Senator Kelly Morrison (DFL-Deephaven) is expected to win an open Congressional seat, leaving her seat open in a likely special election. Add the possibility of an election to replace Senator Mitchell, and there are suddenly a lot of opportunities for Republicans to end the current DFL trifecta over state government.

April 26, 2024