DFL lawmakers joined advocates for reproductive rights at the Capitol Friday, June 24, following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, which overturns the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that guaranteed access to abortion.
Citing the decision as "an egregious attack on the fundamental rights of tens of millions of women," Senate Minority Leader Melissa López Franzen said, "Abortion is healthcare, plain and simple, and thankfully it remains legal here in the State of Minnesota." She called for the passage of legislation to codify reproductive choice and support women's health.
Earlier in the day, Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller released a statement saying, "Today is a victory for every unborn child, affirming their life has value and is worth protecting. Senate Republicans are committed to working together to find consensus on protections for babies, and support for moms and families who choose life.”
Governor Tim Walz and House Speaker Melissa Hortman urged Senate and House Republicans to return to the Capitol for a brief special session to pass $4 billion dollars in immediate financial relief for Minnesota families. They said their proposal would us a portion of the remaining $8 billion surplus to provide checks of $2000 to families and $1000 to individuals if an effort to alleviate rising inflation and high fuel prices. They addressed the media at a State Capitol press conference Wednesday, June 22.
Expressing frustration over the stalled special session discussions regarding the state surplus, Walz said, "Today it's going to be simple. Let's just take half of that surplus and send it back in the form of checks." Speaker Hortman said, "Minnesota families need assistance...The Governor and the House DFLers are still here. We're ready to work. We're ready to find compromises and address the challenges Minnesotans are facing."
Immediately following, House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt spoke to the press on the State Capitol steps, calling the proposal an election year gimmick. "This is a one-time check, just like any other government program, to send money back to Minnesotans in an election year, in desperation when the Governor can see his poll numbers dropping."
Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller met remotely with the media, and cited the Senate's $8.5 billion tax cut plan as the preferred solution. "I am confident that if we came back for a special session and brought up the $8.5 billion tax relief package that we passed in April, I believe we would get even stronger support in the Senate, and I am confident that it would get bipartisan support in the House as well."
Governor Tim Walz, surrounded by lawmakers, physicians and mental health advocates, held a ceremonial bill signing Thursday, June 7, at Children’s Minnesota to celebrate a new law that allocates $92.7 million dollars to improve mental health, of which $60 million will be used to increase hospital bed capacity, recruit mental health professionals and supplement other mental health services.
Following the event, several key Senate lawmakers - Senator Rich Draheim, R-Madison Lake, chief author of the bill, Senator Jason Isaacson, DFL-Shoreview, Senator Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, chair of the Senate Human Services Reform Committee, and Senator Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, chair of the Senate Finance Committee - spoke with Capitol Report moderator Shannon Loehrke about the importance of the new mental health package.
In the aftermath of the recent mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, Senate DFLers called a press conference Thursday, June 7, to assert that gun reform legislation should be included if a special session is called. Senator Ron Latz, DFL-St. Louis Park, ranking minority member of the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee, joins Shannon to talk about some of the gun violence prevention measures proposed by the Senate DFL.
Governor Tim Walz and Attorney General Keith Ellison were joined by lawmakers and advocates Tuesday, June 15, to celebrate a new law that allocates Minnesota’s $300 million portion of a national opioid settlement. The opioid settlement allocates 25 percent of the award to the state and 75 percent to cities and counties to supplement programs that combat opioid abuse.
Senator Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, author of the Senate bill, praised the work of the Attorney General’s Office in negotiating the settlement and the collaboration of the Governor and the legislature in crafting and passing the measure. “Rarely do you ever see a piece of legislation like that, that was well-greased and everybody collaborated, and we came out with a tremendous bill that set the table for ongoing relief for our opioid addiction,” she said.
In an assembly-line fashion, Governor Tim Walz met with groups of lawmakers and advocates for a series of ceremonial bill signings in the State Capitol’s Reception Room Monday, June 13. With each bill, Walz praised the hard work of a divided legislature coming together to find agreement on some of the challenges facing Minnesotans.
Included in the celebration are new laws that will provide assistance and care to firefighters, prohibit discrimination by insurance companies against organ and bone marrow donors, create a guardianship program for at-risk youth, protect student data, reform the competency restoration process, establish an ombuds person for foster youth and divest state assets from Russia and Belarus.