May 17, 2024 - News

"Everything is at risk": What we're watching in the final weekend of Minnesota's legislative session

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

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Minnesota state lawmakers will spend the weekend sprinting toward the finish line of this year's legislative session. Here's what we'll be watching:

1. Equal Rights Amendment: House Democrats will try again today to take up and pass a measure putting on the 2026 ballot a constitutional amendment that includes abortion protections.

  • House Speaker Melissa Hortman says Senate Democrats have agreed to the House's version after months of intra-DFL debate. Senate Leader Erin Murphy declined answer questions on the topic.

2. The clock: Lawmakers have until 11:59pm on Sunday to finalize — and vote on — more than 20 outstanding bills leaders want to pass. Some may need GOP votes.

  • Threat level: "Everything is at risk," House GOP Leader Lisa Demuth said of bills that need their support. While they don't have the votes to block most of the pending legislation, they can try to run out the clock via long debates on the ERA and other issues.
  • Yes, but: Hortman countered she has the tools under House rules to get Democrats' entire agenda done by deadline.

3. Bonding: A deal to pass a bipartisan capital investment package could speed things up. But the two sides are at odds over the size of the bill and what other issues to include as part of a broader agreement to pass it.

  • State of play: Republicans accused Democrats of refusing to budge on their offers, while Democrats have said minority Republicans' demands, which include shelving the ERA and revising a gun bill, are unreasonable.
  • Between the lines: The passage of a $2.6 billion bonding bill last year may have lessened the pressure — and political will — to get another one done this year. Hortman said she'd rather pass an ERA if Republicans hold firm.

4. Rideshare: State lawmakers are still working toward a deal that will give drivers a raise and get Uber and Lyft to drop their threats to leave July 1 over Minneapolis' new rules.

  • Friction point: Where to set minimum pay rates. A recent "compromise" touted by a group of DFL legislators and Minneapolis Council members failed to secure support of the companies or Gov. Tim Walz.
  • House Majority Leader Jamie Long said Thursday that he remains hopeful they can get it done.

5. What's left behind: Legal sports betting is among the bills that could fall short due to lack of time and votes.

  • Hortman said while there have been good conversations, whether it passes "hinges on Republican support."
  • Demuth said the caucus won't offer any aye votes unless Democrats let them debate and play ball on other demands.
  • What to watch: Hortman said the House will take action to ban a casino-style game recently approved by the Minnesota Racing Commission, whether or not the full sports betting package makes it through.

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