Mar 14, 2023 - Politics

Where things stand halfway through the Minnesota legislative session

Illustration of the Minnesota State Capitol with lines radiating from it.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The 20-week policymaking marathon at the Minnesota State Capitol has hit the halfway point.

The big picture: Democrats have used their full control of state government to pass major bills at a breakneck pace, enacting new laws on everything from abortion rights to voting for felony offenders.

What they're saying: "This will be the most productive Legislature in a generation and it will have the biggest impact on working and middle class families that we have seen," Gov. Tim Walz told reporters last week after signing a law allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver's licenses.

The other side: Republicans argue that Democrats are going too far, too fast. Some say the political pendulum could swing back their way as a result in 2024, when the House will be up for grabs.

The intrigue: Some of the big items remaining on the Legislature's to-do list could be tougher nuts to crack given the complexity of the issues and ideological divisions within the DFL caucuses.

Plus: Senate Republicans have vowed to block a proposal to approve borrowing money to pay for capital projects, which requires a three-fifths majority to pass, unless Democrats agree to their proposed tax cuts.

  • Speaker Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park) has said Democrats will pay for the capital projects with cash from the surplus if Republicans won't go along with the borrowing.

Who we're watching: DFL members in competitive districts, including the four "majority makers" in the Senate. Where they land on key outstanding progressive priorities could shape the outcome of some of the top issues under discussion at the Capitol.

What's next: Budget targets breaking down how much committee chairs in each area can expect to spend should be released in the coming weeks. Walz, meanwhile, will soon put out a revised spending proposal of his own.

  • The final full day of the session is May 22.
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