Capitol Wrap: Budget framework set, several bills passed by the House

Business continued like usual this week at the Minnesota Capitol.

Below is a quick roundup of the latest happenings at the legislature as part of this week’s Capitol Wrap.

  • A bill aimed at protecting the rights and privacy of anyone getting or providing reproductive health care services, such as abortion in Minnesota, cleared its first chamber this week.

The Minnesota House of Representatives passed the bill along party lines Monday, putting it in the Senate’s court.

Supporters say the bill is needed to protect Minnesotans and those who travel to the state for reproductive care as other states move to restrict or outlaw abortions. Opponents have called the legislation an overreach of the state’s authority.

While the committee chairs in each chamber will now hammer out more of the details, the budget targets prioritize investments in infrastructure, education, and housing.

Walz and DFL leaders, who control both chambers of the legislature, touted the “historic investments” the spending plan would make in the areas while Republicans criticized spending almost the entire budget surplus over the next two years in a “spending spree.”

The work on budget bills will continue for some time with two months left in the session, but this week’s agreement marked a significant step toward the eventual overall budget bill.

  • The Minnesota House approved a trio of bills Thursday into Friday on three very different topics.

The highest-profile bill was one to make Minnesota a transgender refuge state.

Debate lasted into the early-morning hours Friday before lawmakers gave it approval, sending it to the Senate.

The bill’s author, the state’s first openly transgender legislator, says the measure is designed to protect transgender people, their families, and health care providers from any legal repercussions regarding gender-affirming care. Opponents say the bill is misguided, and would put children at risk.

Another bill approved by the House would ban private prisons in the state. That also still needs approval from the Senate.

While Minnesota hasn’t had any private prisons since 2010, supporters of the legislation say private prisons have troubling records of cutting corners to maximize profits.

Finally, the House voted to approve a bill focused on unlocking as much federal funding for clean energy projects as possible.

The legislation would create a State Competitiveness Fund to help provide matching funds for federal grants that require a match.

  • Gov. Tim Walz lent his signature to a few more pieces of legislation this week.

Before even starting the week, Walz signed a bill to provide universal free meals to all Minnesota students last weekend.

Then, he held a ceremonial signing for a bill aimed at cracking down on catalytic converter thefts this week. However, as Capitol Wrap readers know, he’d already formally signed that legislation.

Finally, Walz signed a bill to delay a review of the state’s physical education standards. Under current law, the Minnesota Department of Education commissioner was supposed to review the academic standards and benchmarks for physical education starting this school year and then every 10 years. The new legislation will bump that first review back to the 2026-27 school year.

The commissioner has to regularly review the standards and benchmarks for other areas, including math, arts, science, language arts and social studies, on a rotating basis.

  • Finally, work continued on many other bills this week.

Additionally, a bill was introduced in the Senate to provide school districts with 75-95% of the cost to replace or repower their buses to give them electric fleets. It’s just another part of DFL lawmakers’ push this session to move the state toward cleaner energy.

While the bill already has a House companion bill, it still has a long journey ahead in each chamber.

Several other bills — including a no-knock warrant ban, one to attract major sporting events to the state, a bill to help veterans involved in the justice system, and another to help Minnesotans who prepare electronic wills — all had committee hearings this week and continue to progress through the legislature. The latter two have to get concurrence votes from the House but would then go to the governor.

Follow those and several other hot-button bills throughout the session on KSTP’s Legislative Tracker.

Click here to read last week’s Capitol Wrap.