Minnesota Legislature adjourns regular session with time to spare

Final hours of the 2023 legislative session

Final hours of the 2023 legislative session

Minnesota lawmakers wrapped up the 2023 legislative session Monday, passing a package of infrastructure bills and a stripped-down version of a bill that would have given nurses greater influence over hospital staffing levels.

By law, the Legislature has to adjourn by 11:59 p.m. Monday, and lawmakers made that deadline with nearly two hours left on the clock.

Lawmakers gave final approval to several bills over the weekend and also struck a deal on a bonding bill. The capital improvement spending package gained final passage in the Senate on Monday.

Under that deal, officials say $1.5 billion in general obligation bonds and another $1 billion in cash will be used for infrastructure projects around the state, such as wastewater treatment plant upgrades, fire stations, emergency shelters and local road projects. The University of Minnesota and Minnesota State will also get money for upgrades to facilities under the bill.

Meanwhile, another $300 million from the capital investments fund will go toward helping Minnesota nursing homes over the next four years.

Lawmakers also passed the health and human services appropriations omnibus bill, which is set to include around $1.5 billion for increased health care access, homelessness and higher wages for childcare workers.

In the waning hours of the session, lawmakers announced substantive changes to the Keeping Nurses at the Bedside Act because the bill no longer had the votes to pass.

That legislation had been debated for weeks and was separated from its omnibus bill after Mayo Clinic threatened to take $1 billion in investments elsewhere. That prompted more negotiations and got lawmakers to include an exemption for Mayo Clinic, which further angered many, including the Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA), which had been the biggest supporter of the bill.

The updated legislation, called the “Nurse and Patient Safety Act,” included some key measures from the original bill, such as student loan forgiveness and protections against workplace violence. However, it cut out a provision to establish hospital nurse staffing committees, a piece that advocates say would have been instrumental in preventing burnout and protecting patient health.

MNA President Mary Turner blamed “the power and influence of corporate healthcare executives” for the revisions.

“Today’s outcome, and the events of the last three weeks, make clear that the outsized power of corporate executives is alive and well,” Turner said in a statement. “It is alive and well in Minnesota, in the halls of power, and in the halls of our hospitals. The strong-arm bully tactics of hospital CEOs that all Minnesotans have suffered this last week are the same tactics nurses experience every day in the workplace.”

Gov. Tim Walz issued a statement after the legislative session ended Monday night:

“The work we’ve done over the last five months will make a generational impact on our state – it will lower costs, improve lives, and cut child poverty.

In January I outlined a vision to make Minnesota the best state in the nation for kids to grow up in. The DFL-led legislature delivered on that promise.

We’re going to put resources behind the educators that teach our children. We’re going to rebuild our roads. And we’re going to give money directly back to Minnesotans who need it most, whether through direct checks or the child tax credit.

None of this could have happened without the tireless, consistent leadership of Speaker Hortman and Majority Leader Dziedizic. Because of their work, Minnesota is leading the nation on climate, on gun safety, and protecting women’s rights. I will be incredibly proud to sign this budget into law.”

Gov. Walz

CLICK HERE to read more about the Legislature’s work this session and see the status of many high-profile bills we’ve followed throughout the session with KSTP’s Legislative Tracker.