Feb 12, 2024 - News

Sports betting, medical debt, and other hot issues at the Minnesota Capitol this year

people hold a sign sqying ERA now on the second floor of the rodunda of the state capitol

ERA supporter rally at the State Capitol. Photo: Torey Van Oot/Axios

The Minnesota Legislature gavels in for the 2024 session on Monday, Feb. 12. Here's a look at some of the hottest issues under the dome this year:

๐Ÿ‘ฎ SROs: A new law governing the use of restraints by school resource officers will likely get clarified, after concerns about the language prompted some law agencies to pause the partnerships.

๐Ÿ—ณ๏ธ A revised Equal Rights Amendment would ask voters to add protections for abortion, gender, and LGBTQ+ rights to the state constitution. A previous version passed the Senate last year.

  • House Speaker Melissa Hortman told Axios she thinks it will get done, but end up on the 2026 ballot.

๐Ÿˆ Legal sports betting: It's in the cards but will likely require bipartisan support. The political crux remains striking a deal that the Native American tribes and the horse race tracks can live with.

  • Hortman puts the odds of passage at 50/50.

โš•๏ธ Medical aid in dying: A bill that would allow health care providers to prescribe life-ending drugs to terminally ill patients already got its first hearing.

  • Yes, but: The legislation will likely require bipartisan support due to opposition from several DFLers. Senate Majority Leader Erin Murphy said it might take more than this session.

๐Ÿ”’ Guns: Groups pushing for tougher gun laws say their priorities include passing new statewide firearm storage requirements and banning guns at polling places.

  • A key Senate chair has said he's not sure safe storage will have the votes this year.

๐Ÿš— Rideshare driver pay: A group of Lyft and Uber drivers are pushing for pay minimums and other protections after Gov. Tim Walz vetoed a similar bill last year. Legislative action could depend on what Minneapolis does (or doesn't do).

๐Ÿณ๏ธ State flag: Several Republicans have vowed to introduce legislation aimed at pulling down the new state flag by putting it up for a public vote Hortman, who already has the new design on her office door, said she's not interested in that.

โš–๏ธ Immigration: A newly introduced bill to make Minnesota a "sanctuary state" by prohibiting local and state governments from cooperating with federal immigration authorities on deportations fueled headlines and backlash from Republicans last week.

  • Hortman said she doesn't see it passing this year.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Medical debt: A proposal aimed at easing the burden and adding protections for patients facing big hospital bills has the backing of Gov. Tim Walz and Attorney General Keith Ellison.

  • Its authors didn't say on Friday whether they have the votes in their respective caucuses to pass the legislation.

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