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New state flag, changes to ‘legislative day’ definition among measures adopted by state government, elections negotiators

Co-chairs Sen. Erin Murphy, left, (DFL-St. Paul) and Rep. Ginny Klevorn (DFL-Plymouth) during a May 13 meeting of the Conference Committee on HF1830, the state government finance bill. (Screenshot)
Co-chairs Sen. Erin Murphy, left, (DFL-St. Paul) and Rep. Ginny Klevorn (DFL-Plymouth) during a May 13 meeting of the Conference Committee on HF1830, the state government finance bill. (Screenshot)

Members spent part of the weekend in the House Chamber. Opportunities will likely expand to provide for far more get-togethers in that space.

Changing the definition of a legislative day is one of a plethora of provisions in the areas of elections and state and local government that were approved Saturday by a conference committee.

However, because some largely technical changes with the administration may yet be needed, conferees directed legislative staff to begin preparing the conference committee report to HF1830. If potential changes are more than technical, conferees would meet again to amend the report being drafted.   

Rep. Ginny Klevorn (DFL-Plymouth) and Sen. Erin Murphy (DFL-St. Paul) are the sponsors.

Part of the eventual conference committee report on the state government finance bill would, beginning with the 2025 session, redefine a legislative day to when either body “gives any bill a third reading, adopts a rule of procedure or organization, elects a university regent, confirms a gubernatorial appointment, or votes to override a gubernatorial veto.” Supporters previously said the change would, in part, allow future legislatures avoid scheduling constraints.

Per the state constitution, the Legislature can meet in biennial session for 120 legislative days; however, a legislative day is not defined. In statute, created in 1973, a legislative day is described as “a day when either house of the legislature is called to order.” So, for example, a brief session where members do nothing more than moving bills along in the committee process now uses a day.

Conference Committee on HF1830 5/13/23

In addition, the agreement would change a session start date to “the first Tuesday after the second Monday in January of each odd-numbered year;” and the electrolier hanging in the Capitol Rotunda would be lit on days the Legislature meets and at agreed-upon other times. Now it is only lit on Statehood Day, May 11.

When members meet next session, they will likely do so under a different state flag.

A 13-member State Emblems Redesign Commission — plus two House and two Senate ex-officio nonvoting members — is called for in the agreement to “develop and adopt a new design for the official state seal and a new design for the official state flag. The designs must accurately and respectfully reflect Minnesota's shared history, resources, and diverse cultural communities. Symbols, emblems, or likenesses that represent only a single community or person, regardless of whether real or stylized, may not be included in a design.” Adopted designs must be certified in a report due the Legislature and governor by Jan. 1, 2024.

In light of the Feeding our Future scandal, the agreement calls for a financial review of grant and business subsidy recipients when at least $50,000 is to be allotted. Per an amendment, “Before an agency awards a competitive, legislatively named, single source, or sole source grant, the agency must complete a preaward risk assessment to assess the risk that a potential grantee cannot or would not perform the required duties.”

State government spending, policy

The agreement checks in at almost $1.51 billion in General Fund 2024-25 biennial spending, $400 million over base. Klevorn and Murphy have said more is needed to have government function in a way that Minnesotans need and deserve.

The bill includes a $127 million spending increase for Minnesota IT Services; $75 million increase for legislative activity, including member pay increases; $72.44 million for the Department of Administration including $20 million “to facilitate space consolidation and the transition to a hybrid work environment;” and $37.8 million for the Office of the Attorney General.

Compensation Council salary recommendations for the state’s constitutional officers would be adopted. They call for a 9% increase July 1, 2023, and 7.5% bump effective July 1, 2024.

[MORE: View the change item spreadsheet]

A number of new offices, councils and task forces would be established, including an Office of Enterprise Sustainability, Office of Enterprise Transitions, Legislative Task force on Aging, Council on LGBTQ1A2S+ Minnesotans, Infrastructure Resilience Advisory Task Force, and Working Group on Youth Intervention.

Other proposed policy changes include:

  • the Legislative Coordinating Commission would contract with an external consultant to examine issues related to collective bargaining for employees of the House, Senate and legislative offices and develop recommendations for the Legislature to consider in implementing and administering collective bargaining for employees;
  • a consumer litigation fund would be established for purposes related to multistate consumer litigation;
  • a new cybersecurity grant program would make grants to political subdivisions to address cybersecurity risks and threats to information systems owned or operated by, or on behalf of state, local, or tribal governments;
  • transitioning from Christopher Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day;
  • changing the effective date of a Juneteenth law enacted earlier this session to Feb. 4, 2023;
  • adopting some recommendations from a January 2021 report of the Advisory Task Force on State Employment and Retention of Employees with Disabilities;
  • May 14 each year would be Hmong Special Guerrilla Units Remembrance Day; and
  • designating the Bill and Bonnie Daniels Fire Hall and Museum in Minneapolis as the state fire museum.

Local government-related policy changes

  • a political subdivision employee salary cap would be removed;
  • deleting a state of emergency requirement so members of certain public bodies could participate remotely up to three times a year due to medical concerns;
  • a city could allow a private property owner, authorized agent, or occupant to install and maintain a managed natural landscape. Plants and grasses more than 8 inches tall that have gone to seed would be permitted; noxious weeds would not;
  • to control behavior and protect public safety, hotels operating within a city may need to licensed by the local municipality;
  • expanding the eligibility of counties and cities that can use certain long-term equity investments;
  • a municipality may use a construction manager at risk method of project delivery; and
  • St. Paul may solicit and award a design-build contract for the East Side Skate Park project at Eastside Heritage Park based on a best value selection process.

Elections spending, policy

General Fund spending of almost $24.62 million in fiscal years 2023-25 is called for, a $9.5 million increase.

[MORE: View the change item spreadsheet]

Penalties would be established for intimidation and interference related to an election judge performing their official duties and tampering with the statewide voter registration system, registration list or polling place roster.

State law would show Minnesota’s support of the Agreement Among the States to Elect the President by National Popular Vote, an interstate compact that’d guarantee the presidency to the candidate receiving the most popular votes across all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Other policy includes:

  • for a political party to maintain major party status, their candidate must receive at least 8% of votes at a state general election beginning Nov. 7, 2024;
  • a voter could cast a ballot using a live ballot box during the 18 days prior to an election, including weekends, at locations designated by the county auditor or municipal clerk;
  • deadline for delivery of an absentee ballot would be extended from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day;
  • eliminating the three-person limit on the number of voters a person can assist on Election Day;
  • all postsecondary institutions that enroll students accepting state or federal financial aid must maintain a webpage to share resources to help students determine where and how they are eligible to vote; and
  • let students appointed as trainee election judges to continue to serve until age 18.

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