An Early End to Session?

In recent years, the legislature has used up more than its fair share of session days to complete its work, but change may be coming this session. While legislators are not required to adjourn until May 22, the House passed a resolution to adjourn by May 18. Because the Senate did not pass a corresponding resolution, the May 18 deadline is non-binding. However, mark your calendars: the resolution included an indication that legislators will return for the 2024 session on February 12, 2024.

Major Budget Bills Passing

This week, legislators passed conference committee reports for two of the major omnibus budget packages, sending them to the Governor for signature. The agriculture and housing budget bills will be signed into law before session concludes. More than $1 billion will be allocated for housing access and affordability, paid for in part by a 0.25% metro area sales tax, the first-ever sales tax in Minnesota dedicated entirely to funding housing. The agriculture bill includes funding for broadband, soil health, milk, meat processors, and a new grain indemnity fund, as well as policy measures such as new regulations around PFAS in fertilizers.

Paid Family & Medical Leave

The Senate passed its version of the paid family & medical leave legislation—with some key differences from the House’s proposal. A maximum of 20 weeks is allowed under the Senate’s version, while the House caps their proposal at 18 weeks. In a first for this session, both bills passed with the bare minimum of votes. A conference committee begins meeting this week to reconcile differences before session concludes.

Cannabis Joint Conference Committee Convenes

A conference committee convenes for its first meeting this week to take up portions of the bill to legalize adult-use recreational cannabis. Substantial changes are expected to be made in several conference meetings before the bill reaches the floor. However, the bill is widely expected to pass. Cannabis could be decriminalized in Minnesota before the end of the year.

Deal or No Deal? Sports Betting, Guns, and Bonding

While legislators seem to have had little trouble agreeing on major budget bills this session, a handful of other contentious issues have drawn attention. First, amid doubts about whether DFLers in the Senate had the votes to pass controversial gun safety measures, the provisions successfully cleared a conference committee hurdle and are expected to pass a full vote in the coming days. Another bill, which would legalize sports betting, may be back in contention after appearing to stall in the House. Finally, leaders have spent the week trading offers on a long-awaited bonding bill comprising a mixture of general obligation bonds and cash. Because bonding requires a 60% super-majority for passage, this bill is one of the only opportunities for the minority caucuses to negotiate wins for their districts—or gain leverage over members in the majority.

May 12, 2023