Legislative gridlock over recent years has prevented agencies from working in partnership with one another and with the legislature to make the improvements needed to best serve the people of Minnesota. After years of underinvestment in our state agencies, the DFL Senate majority addressed the lack of maintenance that is critical to a functional government. Investments made this year at the state and local level will have long-lasting effects on communities across the state. The final State and Local Government omnibus package funds the legislature, the offices of each constitutional officer, the Capitol Area Architectural and Planning Board, the Office of Administrative Hearings, the departments of Administration, Management and Budget, Revenue, and Information Technology, as well as a variety of smaller boards and councils. In short, this package funds a government that is modern, accountable, secure, equitable and inclusive.
Office of the Attorney General
Early this session, the Senate passed a bill to increase funding for the Office of the Attorney General, appropriating an additional $269,000 in the current fiscal year and $4 million in the next biennium for enhanced criminal enforcement. Attorney General Keith Ellison had previously requested these funds – in 2019, 2021 and 2022 – but despite repeated Republican calls for greater criminal enforcement, the GOP-controlled Senate did not grant the Attorney General additional funding. These funds will help rebuild the criminal enforcement division, which assists county attorneys as they prosecute violent crimes, as well as cases involving the involuntary commitment of dangerous sexual predators.
In addition to fully funding the Office of the Attorney General for its general operations, the State and Local Government omnibus package also established a special revenue fund for consumer litigation. This fund will be used in consumer protection cases that the Attorney General enters with other states.
Minnesota Information Technology (MNIT) received funds this year for much-needed modernization efforts and cybersecurity enhancements. Though many of the changes made to statutes governing MNIT were technical in nature, they will be enormously important in keeping our state government technology working well, protecting MNIT and local government infrastructure from cybersecurity threats, and in improving our technological systems. These changes include additional staff members within MNIT, reporting changes, lifecycle management of data and equipment, county and local cybersecurity grant options, and changes to how MNIT works with other state agencies.
Office of Enterprise Sustainability
Previously established through executive order, the Office of Enterprise Sustainability was statutorily established in the State and Local Government omnibus bill to assist state agencies in making measurable progress toward improving the sustainability of government operations. This includes reducing the overall impact on the environment, controlling unnecessary waste, and prompting innovation.
Office of Enterprise Translations
An Office of Enterprise Translations will be established by the commissioner of administration to provide translation services for state agencies so they may each have language-specific landing webpages in Spanish, Hmong, Somali, and other languages as determined by the commissioner in consultation with the state demographer. This will increase the effectiveness of our state government by making it accessible to more Minnesotans.
Council on LGBTQIA2S+ Minnesotans
A new council on LGBTQIA2S+ Minnesotans to work for the implementation of economic, social, legal and political equality for Minnesota’s LGBTQIA2S+ community. Modeled after the state’s ethnic councils, the council will be made up of public members and legislators from each chamber and each party and will give voice to LGBTQIA2S+ Minnesotans in our state government.
To ensure that Minnesota is able to recruit and hire top-tier candidates to serve in crucial roles in our state agencies and constitutional offices, the Compensation Council, a council within Minnesota Management and Budget, will now prescribe the salaries for constitutional officers and agency heads.
State Emblem Redesign Commission
The State Emblems Redesign Commission will develop, design, and recommend to the legislature and the governor new designs for the state flag and the state seal. According to the North American Vexillological Association, Minnesota ranks 67th out of 72 U.S. and Canadian state and provincial flags, due to the complexity and colors. The designs will accurately and respectfully reflect Minnesota’s shared history, resources, and diverse cultural communities, and the commission must solicit public feedback and suggestions to best represent the people of Minnesota. The commission may also seek the aid of vexillologists or others with artistic skills in flag design.
Legislative Task Force on Aging
A new task force will review and develop state resources for an aging demographic, identify and prioritize support for an aging population (with the overarching goal of keeping individuals in their own communities), and ensure all aging-related state policies are inclusive.
Infrastructure Resilience Advisory Task Force
An advisory task force on Infrastructure Resilience is established to evaluate issues related to coordination, sustainability, resiliency, and federal funding on state, local, and private infrastructure across Minnesota.
Working Group on Youth Interventions
A Youth Interventions working group is established to develop recommendations on the design of a regional system of care for youth interventions and alternatives to criminal penalties. See the Securing Public Safety section for more information.
To ensure that state grants are administered and utilized effectively, $5 million was appropriated for grants administration oversight and to fund a study that will develop and implement a plan for an enterprise grants management system. Backstops have been put in place to prevent misuse of grant funding, including additional evaluation of potential grantees and additional review of grant and business subsidy recipients.
Employment and Retention of Employees with Disabilities
The State and Local Government package also codifies the recommendations from a 2021 report by the Advisory Task Force on the Employment and Retention of Employees with Disabilities. It expands digital accessibility, appropriates funding for reimbursement to state agencies that make reasonable accommodations to their employees with disabilities, and promotes recruitment of people with disabilities.
The Healthy Eating, Here at Home program, or Market Bucks, was expanded to give Minnesotans more opportunities to purchase fresh, local produce with their SNAP benefits. Within the expanded program, individuals may have up to $10 in SNAP benefits matched when they are used at farmers’ markets, mobile markets, and through direct-farmer sales, such as community-supported agriculture shares (sometimes referred to as CSAs or Farm Shares).
Beginning June 19, 2023, Juneteenth will join the other ten state-recognized holidays. Juneteenth memorializes the day when the Union Army, in 1965, announced that all salves in the state of Texas (the last state with institutionalized slavery) were free. In 1996, Minnesota began recognizing Juneteenth as a holiday, the fourth state in the nation to do so, however that recognition was merely an observance and did not extend the full recognition that other holidays enjoy. In 2021, Juneteenth was declared a federal holiday.
Additionally, “Christopher Columbus Day” will be replaced with “Indigenous Peoples’ Day” in statute. More than a dozen other states and more than 130 cities recognize a version of Indigenous Peoples’ Day and in 2021, President Joe Biden became the first president to formally commemorate Indigenous Peoples’ Day.