State Government and Elections


State Contracts
Our state employees do important work – from nurses to law enforcement officers to support staff; in many ways, they are what makes Minnesota run. The Legislature is responsible for ratifying contracts with unions representing many of these workers, and shortly before the end of the session we did so. The contracts that were ratified cover more than 40,000 workers, including corrections officers, staff at state residential schools, radio operators, and many more. Supporting these workers is critical to ensuring that they can continue to serve Minnesotans. (HF 3346)

Russia Divestment
In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Legislature took swift action to divest state finances from Russia and its ally, Belarus. This bill empowered the State Board of Investment to investigate all holdings for ties to Russia and Belarus, and if those securities are not divested themselves within 90 days, to do so. It also requires the Board of Investment to not acquire any scrutinized securities unless they are providing aid or relieving suffering. (HF 4165)

An omnibus retirement bill passed that provided modest changes to the pension benefits of retired public employees. The bill allows retired teachers to return to the classroom without financial penalty, alters the vesting schedule for police and fire pensions, and expands eligibility for DHS employees in the Minnesota State Retirement System Correctional Plan, among other provisions. (SF 3540)


State Government Omnibus bill
The State Government Omnibus bill included important investments in our state’s information technology infrastructure, an area that is increasingly high profile and vulnerable. The bill would’ve established cybersecurity grants for local governments to address gaps, as well as an investment in the transformation of our state’s enterprise cloud system to ensure better service for agencies and to serve Minnesotans. As cybersecurity threats continue to emerge and become ever more dangerous, we simply cannot afford to ignore them. (HF 4293)

Strengthening our Democracy
DFLers put forward a proposal to strengthen our democracy, improve accessibility to the ballot, and ensure that Minnesotans’ voices – rather than those of wealthy donors – are heard through our elections. Our bill would’ve established a real system of early voting, made it easier for individuals to register to vote, updated and improved our campaign finance laws, and put in place a fair redistricting process that involved and respected the people of Minnesota. Every DFLer in the Minnesota Senate is a co-author of this bill, but unfortunately, it was never heard in committee. (SF 422)

Voter Suppression and Casting Doubt in our Elections
Senate Republicans brought forward a number of proposals that would’ve made it significantly harder for many Minnesotans to vote. Most notably, they attempted to prohibit local elections offices from using temporary absentee ballot polling places for a short time. Large cities like Minneapolis, as well as more sparsely populated rural counties, have taken advantage of these kinds of arrangements to make voting more accessible, particularly to populations that are less likely to turn out. There were also attempts to make data in the Statewide Voter Registration System (SVRS) public, which would’ve opened up new avenues to voter harassment and intimidation, and to require 24/7 live streaming of absentee ballot dropboxes that would’ve been extremely costly and burdensome to local elections offices, and been a security concern to voters.

In addition to the live streaming requirement, there were other proposals that would’ve legitimized conspiracy theories and doubts about our election systems. Republicans attempted to prohibit local governments from accepting legal and accountable grants for the purposes of paying for equipment and supplies related to conducting elections and established partisan ballot board “observers” who, in other states, have been more focused on harassing local elections officials and advancing dubious claims, and required ballots to be printed on paper with a “security marking” – an idea based on right-wing conspiracy theories and that could result in real voter privacy threats. (SF 3975, 2nd Engrossment)

Sports Wagering
A number of states have legalized wagering on collegiate and professional sports in recent years, including every state that borders Minnesota. A proposal to allow wagering on sports, as well as award shows, was heard in the Senate Finance Committee this year. The bill would limit sports betting to those over the age of 21 and physically located in Minnesota, establish a licensing, tax, and legal structure, and direct how state revenue received would be spent. The companion bill, which differed in a number of respects, was passed by the House with bipartisan support and opposition. (SF 574)

Cost of Living Adjustments (COLAs)
With the level of inflation at a record high, retired public employees have experienced the strain on their household budgets, especially those on a fixed income. The Social Security Administration approved a 5.9% COLA for Social Security recipients beginning in January, but state employee retirement plans have not been provided any increase from the Legislature. The Teachers Retirement Association and Minnesota State Retirement System General Plan currently provide a 1% COLA, while the Public Employees Retirement Association General Plan provides a 1.5% COLA. In the US, inflation for the 12-month period ending in February was 7.9%, far higher than any COLA provided to Minnesota’s retirees, hurting their ability to buy essential goods and services. A proposal to provide an ongoing 1.5% COLA for all of the major pension plans, including police and fire pension beneficiaries, did not pass this session. (SF 3541)