Conference Committee Update, House Passes Paid Family and Medical LeaveConference Committee Update, and more
Conference Committee Update
With two weeks left in the 2023 legislative session, many conference committees have been busy working out differences in major budget bills. A few conference committees, such as the committee working on the omnibus tax bill, are still in the process of being appointed and have not yet begun work.
Conference committees must resolve all differences in their bills before sending them to Gov. Walz for final passage. Here is a list of bills that have been referred to conference committees, with links to the latest updates for those committees:
- HF100/SF73 – Omnibus cannabis bill.
- HF1830/SF1426 – Omnibus state government finance bill.
- HF1937/SF2247 – Omnibus veterans and military affairs finance bill.
- HF1938/SF1811 – Omnibus tax bill.
- HF1999/SF1682 – Omnibus legacy bill.
- HF2073/SF2075 – Omnibus higher education finance and policy bill.
- HF2292/SF2373 – Early learning scholarships, Head Start, and early education programs modified; early childhood educator programs provided; reports required; and money appropriated.
- HF2310/SF2438 – Omnibus environment, natural resources, climate, and energy finance and policy bill.
- HF2335/SF2566 – Omnibus housing finance and policy bill.
- HF2497/SF2684 – Omnibus education finance bill.
- HF2887/SF3157 – Omnibus transportation finance and policy bill.
- SF1384/HF1522 – Omnibus Labor policy bill
- SF1955/HF2278 – Omnibus Agriculture, Broadband and Rural Development appropriations
- SF2744/HF2680 – Omnibus Commerce appropriations
- SF2909/HF2890 – Omnibus Judiciary and Public Safety appropriations
- SF2934/HF2847 – Omnibus Human Services appropriations
- SF2995/HF2930 – Omnibus Health and Human Services appropriations
- SF3035/HF3028 – Omnibus Jobs, Economic Development, Labor, and Industry appropriations
House Passes Paid Family and Medical Leave
The House passed their paid family and medical leave bill on Tuesday evening with a vote of 68-64. The bill passed on a mostly party-line vote, with two Democrats voting against the bill. The bill sets aside $668.3 million to set up the program for FY2024, before money is collected via a payroll tax on employees and employers, similar to Social Security benefits. The money also establishes a new Family and Medical Benefits Insurance Division within the Department of Employment and Economic Development to oversee the program.
Starting July 1, 2025, employees would be eligible for the benefit if they are unable to work due to a serious health condition, safety leave, pregnancy, pregnancy recovery, or to care for a family member’s serious health condition, or a newborn. Employers would be able to opt out of paying into the state plan if they create their own private plan that meets or exceeds the same benefits. The House version of the bill would provide up to 18 weeks of partially paid leave, less than the 24 weeks initially proposed. The bill now goes to the Senate, which has yet to act on it.
After months of committee hearings, a bill to legalize marijuana passed both the House and the Senate last week. The bill first passed the House on Tuesday with the support of two Republicans, and all but one Democrat, with a vote of 71-59. On Friday, the Senate passed the bill with a party line vote of 34-33. The measure would allow adults 21 and older to buy up to two ounces of cannabis flower and would expunge low-level cannabis convictions.
The two versions of the bill have several differences that must be worked out by a conference committee before it makes its way to Gov. Walz’s desk for signature. The Senate bill allows those growing cannabis privately to possess up to five pounds of cannabis, and two pounds for those buying cannabis. The House limits possession to 1.5 pounds for everyone. Another key difference is the tax rate in the two bills, the House taxes cannabis products at 8 percent, while the Senate has a higher rate of 10 percent. The differences between the two bills are currently being worked out in a conference committee. Once differences are worked out and a bill is signed by the governor, legalization will go into effect August 1.
The House and Senate met in a joint convention on Monday night to elect members of the University of Minnesota’s Board of Regents. Four board members were up for election from the 2nd, 3rd and 8th Congressional Districts as well as the at-large member.
Tadd Johnson, representing District 8, was the only member re-elected to his seat; the former professor, tribal attorney and tribal court judge retired from his position as the University’s first senior director of American Indian Tribal Nations Relations. West St. Paul City Council member Robyn Gulley was elected to the District 2 seat, replacing Steve Sviggum. In District 3, Minnesota Nurses Association President Mary Turner will replace Darrin Rosha. One of the four members-at-large, Ken Powell, will be replaced by Penny Wheeler, the former CEO of Allina Health.
The new board will get to work this week to review candidates for interim president as the current president Joan Gabel takes on a new role at the University of Pittsburgh.
May 22: Last Day of the 2023 Legislative Session