Each week during the session, we're tracking important pieces of legislation as they move through the legislature.

Take a look at bill progress in both the Minnesota House and Senate, as well as weekly previews and reviews, below.

5/22/2020 — Legislative Review

The 2020 legislative session officially wrapped up Monday. Lawmakers worked throughout the weekend to finalize several bills, but the biggest news was a bonding bill not being passed. That means lawmakers will convene for a special session, likely next month.

Monday, lawmakers reviewed the session and looked ahead to a likely special session. Gov. Tim Walz said he's aiming for June 12 as the start of a special session but hasn't fully decided yet. That's because his peacetime emergency is scheduled to run until June 12 but could be extended if officials think the situation warrants it. Republican lawmakers, specifically House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, has previously said he'd block any bonding bill if the peacetime emergency is still in effect.

However, moods soured later this week when Minnesota Management and Budget ruled that the Senate's action on state employee contracts over the weekend, in which lawmakers postponed scheduled raises until next year, constituted approval and authorized immediate raises as previously scheduled. Republicans decried the decision and called the decision by Walz's administration unreasonable. We'll see if that changes how agreeable lawmakers are when the special session eventually convenes.

Of course, the biggest news this week came when Walz announced a phased plan to reopen several businesses, including bars, restaurants and salons, beginning June 1. While it's a step toward reopening society, many business owners expressed disappointment with the announcement and said it doesn't go far enough.

That order also kept strong restrictions in place for places of worship, but Minnesota's Catholic and some Lutheran churches expressed disappointment with the plan and said they'd defy the order and follow their own restrictions. President Donald Trump on Friday then classified places of worship as essential, allowing them to reopen.

Also this week, Walz signed two executive orders extending previous provisions providing relief to truckers supporting the food chain and farmers by exempting drivers from certain regulations.

Legislators on the Minnesota House Select Committee on Minnesota's Pandemic Response and Rebuilding also held its first hearing and heard from nurses about challenges they're facing on the front lines of the pandemic.

View all previous legislative preview and review posts by clicking here.

Legislation progress

5/18/2020 — Legislative Preview

The current legislative session wraps up Monday. Lawmakers worked throughout the weekend to put some finishing touches on several bills. However, some bills did not get approved, the most notable being a bonding bill. In all likelihood, a special session will be called to address that in the coming days, possibly even on Monday.

The Senate adjourned late Sunday night and won’t meet Monday. The House will meet Monday but simply to officially call an end to the session. Gov. Tim Walz and some lawmakers are expected to discuss the session during a briefing Monday and will likely shed light on when a special session could happen.

Special sessions aren’t too uncommon in Minnesota, but they typically are quick and address one or two major bills on which agreements weren’t reached in the regular session. The last special sessions in the state: 2019, 2017 and 2015. Most special sessions last just a few days, if even that. The longest of the last three special sessions was 2017 when the Legislature convened from May 23 through May 25.

The special sessions aren’t typically used to address legislation that wasn’t passed in the regular session unless it’s critical to state operations, such as a budget bill or, in this case, a bonding bill, so the time won’t be used to discuss other bills, such as legalizing marijuana, for example.

Over the weekend, a few notable things did happen, though. Walz signed 11 bills into law: Tobacco 21, TCE ban, protection for vulnerable adults, data practices omnibus, Revisor's bill, civil law omnibus, city charter commissions, agriculture policy omnibus, eyewitness identification policies, job training grant modifications and electronic signatures.

Some other bills given last-minute approval by lawmakers over the weekend include:

  • HF4415, which required hourly school employees to be compensated for days missed during the pandemic, among other things. It had been passed by the House but the Senate approved it after taking out the measure that compensated hourly school employees. The House repassed it, but the final bill didn’t include that central part of compensating hourly school employees and instead addressed some school finance formula glitches from distance learning.
  • HF2682, which invests nearly $118 million from the state Outdoor Heritage Fund and give $250,000 for a memorial honoring Minnesota's Medal of Honor recipients in the Capitol. It was passed by the House last week and by the Senate over the weekend.
  • SF3683, which provides some protection for students amid abrupt college closures, like Argosy, and expands eligibility for child care assistance, was approved by both chambers.
  • SF2898, which exempts freelance hair and makeup artists from being required to get a full cosmetology license, was approved by the Senate last week and by the House over the weekend.
  • HF2796, which was approved by the House last year and deals with state employee contracts, was approved by the Senate over the weekend with some modifications.
  • HF462, which is a transportation bill containing new school bus safety provisions and flexibility to allow Minnesotans to more easily extend expired driver's licenses during the pandemic. It was approved by both chambers over the weekend.
  • SF3560, which is an omnibus health and human services policy bill, was approved by the Senate earlier in the month and by the House over the weekend. However, the House approved it with an amendment, meaning the Senate has to repass it with the amendment, and that wasn’t accomplished over the weekend.
  • HF4554/SF4499, which invests over $61 million from the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund in conservation and protection of the state's natural resources. It was approved by both chambers over the weekend but may have some final differences to work out between the two versions before it is officially approved.
  • HF3156, which addresses some public safety measures and sets requirements for testing and storing rape kits. It was approved by the House but tabled in the Senate.

So, while a lot happened over the weekend, a lot also didn’t reach the finish line. The result likely means some more work for lawmakers in a special session. Details on that will become clearer in the coming days.


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