Senate DFL outlines legislative agenda: paid family leave, more teachers of color, voting rights expansion

    The Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul as the sun sets on Election Day, November 3, 2020. Photo by Tony Webster.

    The Senate Democratic-Farmer-Labor caucus on Wednesday outlined their legislative agenda, calling for paid family leave, expanding the number of teachers of color and expanding voting rights, among other priorities. 

    The proposals will face strong resistance in a GOP-led Senate, which instead is calling for a 5% spending cut to state agencies and opposes any additional state spending.

    Lawmakers have to close an $883 million deficit for the upcoming biennium, but with tax collections coming in higher-than-expected in recent months, the state’s fiscal picture may show improvement when the state budget agency releases an updated budget forecast later this month.

    Senate Minority Leader Susan Kent, DFL-Woodbury, and other members of her caucus said they were committed to working with Republicans on their legislative priorities, but expressed frustration that parts of their agenda had been stymied in recent legislative sessions. 

    Among the priorities are expanding mail-in and absentee balloting, extending early voting periods, expanding voter pre-registration and stopping a Voter ID bill proposed by Senate Republicans. Senate Democrats also have proposals to increase the production of renewable energy in the state.

    DFL Gov. Tim Walz late last month outlined a $52.4 billion budget proposal, which includes a series of tax increases, many aimed at Minnesota’s wealthiest and largest corporations.

    Ricardo Lopez
    Ricardo Lopez is the senior political reporter for the Reformer. Ricardo is not new to Minnesota politics, previously reporting on the Dayton administration and statehouse for The Star Tribune from 2014 to 2017, and the Republican National Convention in 2016. Previously, he was a staff writer at The Los Angeles Times covering the California economy. He's a Las Vegas native who has adopted Minnesota as his home state. In his spare time, he likes to run, cook and volunteer with Save-a-Bull, a Minneapolis dog rescue group.