The Potluck

Budget targets, refuge for trans people and abortion rights: Capitol week in review

By: - March 24, 2023 1:18 pm

Minnesota State Capitol. Photo courtesy of Minnesota House of Representatives.

Members of the Minnesota House stayed up through the night Thursday into Friday, debating first a bill to ban private prisons, which passed, and then the “Trans Refuge Bill,” which also passed around 5:30 a.m. Friday. The bill prohibits people from other states from being arrested for giving or receiving gender-affirming care in Minnesota, even if they come from a state that has made the care illegal.

Meanwhile, Iowa’s governor signed a bill yesterday banning gender-affirming care.

Here are some other highlights from this week at the Capitol:

  • Gov. Tim Walz and legislative leaders agreed to high-level budget targets over the next two years, which will shape policy and finance debates for the rest of the session.
  • The House passed a bill (HF355/SF165) to shield women who travel from out-of-state to get abortions in Minnesota. The Senate has not yet passed it.
  • The Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee advanced three gun safety bills. One (SF1116) requires criminal background checks for private firearms transfers. The second (SF2827) increases penalties for possessing illegal machine guns. The third (SF1117) is a so-called red flag law that allows law enforcement and family members to ask a court to prohibit people who could be dangerous from possessing guns.
  • The Senate Jobs and Economic Development Committee passed the paid family and medical leave bill (HF2/SF2) with a significant amendment reducing the maximum number of paid weeks off to 20. A person may take up to 12 weeks for parental leave and eight weeks for medical leave or vice versa.
  • The Legislative Commission on Pensions and Retirement recommended a bill (HF1234) pass that would reduce disability pension benefits to first responders who had less than 20 years of service and got a new job in another field after retiring. It would also require mental health treatment before applying for a disability retirement due to a psychological condition. It’s aimed at curbing the exploding cost of PTSD among first responders.
  • The House higher education committee passed a bill (HF20) that would extend unemployment benefits to hourly school workers, including bus drivers, paraprofessionals and college dining staff.
  • The House commerce committee chose to lay over a bill (HF2100/SF1984) that would fund air ventilation upgrades in schools for possible inclusion in a large omnibus bill.
  • The House passed a bill (HF1656/SF1622) with bipartisan support that will send $140 million for clean energy projects to small cities, tribes, electric utility companies and schools that are applying for matching federal funds. The Senate has not yet passed it.

Reformer reporters Michelle Griffith and Deena Winter contributed. 

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Max Nesterak
Max Nesterak

Max Nesterak is the deputy editor of the Reformer and reports on labor and housing. Previously, he was an associate producer for Minnesota Public Radio after a stint at NPR. He also co-founded the Behavioral Scientist and was a Fulbright Scholar to Berlin, Germany.