Minnesota Legislature’s Unrelenting Pace
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The 2023 legislative session began this week with in-person floor sessions in both bodies after almost three years of virtual legislating at the Minnesota Capitol. Governor Tim Walz was inaugurated to his second term on the eve of the first day of session. Lawmakers in both bodies were sworn in on Tuesday before session officially began at noon.
With this new freshman class, Minnesota swore in a historically diverse legislature. There are a record number of people of color, women, and people who identify as LGBTQ, the House and Senate are both led by women, and Bobby Joe Champion is the first Black president of the Senate.
While the first floor sessions in the House were sleepy this week, the Senate spent hours Wednesday determining a proposal to allow remote voting.
Governor Tim Walz and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flannagan were sworn into office for their second term on Monday. Constitutional officers Attorney General Keith Ellison, Secretary of State Steve Simon, and State Auditor Julie Blaha were also sworn in during the inauguration ceremony at the Fitzgerald Theatre. Governor Walz’s second term will have him presiding over a DFL majority House, Senate, and a full DFL slate of constitutional officers. During his inauguration, Walz mentioned several priorities he hopes to advance this session including:
$17.6 Billion Budget Surplus
On Tuesday, Dec. 6, the Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) office released the much-anticipated state Budget and Economic Forecast. The twice-annual forecasts are essential information for Minnesota lawmakers to determine how much money they have to work with when creating the next two-year budget. The previous record-setting surplus of $9.25 billion announced in February 2022, has been dwarfed by the forecast $17.6 billion budget surplus for 2023. Much of this massive surplus has to do with a large portion of last year’s surplus remaining unspent, when legislators left almost $8 billion on the table when the 2022 legislative session ended. In addition to the surplus that remained from last session, the continued budget growth is credited to strong performance in income, sales and corporate taxes, the three main revenue sources for Minnesota. With this information in mind, Gov. Tim Walz must submit his budget recommendations by the end of January. Legislators will pay close attention to his proposals as they decide upon a final budget that must be in place by the end of June.
The Budget and Economic Forecasts released by MMB do not take inflation into account. The current rate of inflation (8.1%) is more of a factor for the 2023-2024 budget than ever in recent history. High rates of inflation impact the cost of funding current services and projects and may make it difficult to determine the cost of funding future services and projects. Legislative leaders and the governor have raised a desire to include inflation into the forecast, so look for more debate and conversation on this topic.
Aftermath of Elections
On Tuesday, Nov. 29, the State Canvassing Board made elections official, although two election outcomes remain uncertain. The board approved plans for taxpayer-funded recounts in House districts 3A and 3B because the vote count difference was less than .5%. Since our last update, House minority leadership has been elected, committee structure has been decided and chairs have been appointed. Expect more updates on committee member assignments in upcoming issues of Ewald at the Capitol.
Despite Gov. Tim Walz’s successful re-election bid, the executive branch is going through changes. Gov. Walz reappointed just 16 cabinet members, leaving 6 positions vacant. The open positions include commissioners in the departments of Health, Education, Revenue, Public Safety, Labor and Industry, and the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board. Gov. Walz hopes to fill these positions by mid-December. Expect updates on the new commissioners in upcoming issues of Ewald at the Capitol. Leadership The latest round of leadership elections for the 2023-2024 biennium has concluded with House Republicans electing Representative Lisa Demuth (Cold Spring) to serve as the minority leader. Following her election, she appointed Rep. Paul Torkelson (Hanska) to serve as Deputy Minority Leader, Rep. Jim Nash (Waconia) to serve as Minority Whip; as well as Rep. Dave Baker (Willmar), Representative-elect Elliot Engen (White Bear Lake), and Rep. Spencer Igo (Grand Rapids) to serve as Assistant Minority Leaders.
Election day 2022 will shape local, state and federal policy for years to come. All 201 seats in the Minnesota Legislature, as well as all constitutional offices, Minnesota’s U.S. congressional seats, and several county and local seats were up for election. Redistricting this year also meant that all candidates were running in newly drawn districts, creating a lot of uncertainty on the outcome.
It will take some time for the dust to settle now that the election is over. The first weeks following the election will be busy for new and familiar faces alike, regardless of who controls the Minnesota House and Senate. After voting on party leadership, caucuses in both bodies will have to sort out committee structure, appoint new committee chairs and make committee assignments. In addition, members will have to settle into their offices and pick their seats in the respective chambers. This will occur in the coming weeks — so we will have to wait until closer to the start of the 2023 session for the dust to settle.
So far, Sen. Kari Dziedzic (DFL-Minneapolis) has been elected as the Majority Leader in the Senate, and Sen. Mark Johnson (R-East Grand Forks) has been elected as the Minority Leader. The Senate DFL caucus also elected Sen. Bobby Joe Champion (DFL-Minneapolis) as President, Sen. John Marty (DFL-Roseville) as Finance Chair, and Sen. Ann Rest (DFL-New Hope) as Tax Chair. In the House, Rep. Jamie Long (DFL-Minneapolis) has been elected as the Majority Leader. Rep. Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park) will remain the Speaker of the House. Expect more updates on committee assignments and House minority leadership elections in upcoming issues of Ewald at the Capitol.
Although election results will not be made official by the state canvassing board until Nov. 29, Democrats held on to their House majority (70-64) and obtained a narrow majority (34-33) in the Senate. DFL Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan were elected to another term as well as the incumbent Democrats in each constitutional office.
However, we are awaiting pending recounts in several races in northern Minnesota. In House District 3A, Republican candidate Roger Skraba beat Rep. Rob Ecklund by just 15 votes. In House District 3B, Republican Natalie Zeleznikar is 35 votes ahead of Rep. Mary Murphy. The narrow margins in these two races automatically triggered a recount. Results will not be final until these recounts are completed.
A roster of all members-elect of MN legislature is included in the resources section. Notable races include:
SD3* – Grant Hauschild (DFL) beat Andrea Zupancich (GOP)
*SD3 gave Democrats their one-vote majority in the Senate
SD 14 – Sen. Aric Putnam (DFL) beat Tama Theis (GOP)
SD 35 – Sen. Jim Abeler (GOP) beat Kari Rehrauer (DFL)
SD 36 – Heather Gustafson (DFL) beat Sen. Roger Chamberlain (GOP)
SD 41 – Judy Seeberger (DFL) beat Tom Dippel (GOP)
HD 3A – Roger Skraba (GOP) beat Rob Ecklund (DFL) (pending recount)
HD 3B – Natalie Zeleznikar (GOP) beat Rep. Mary Murphy (DFL) (pending recount)
HD 7B – Rep. David Lislegard (DFL) beat Matt Nori (GOP)
HD 14B – Rep. Dan Wolgamott (DFL) beat Aaron Henning (GOP)
HD 18A – Jeff Brand (DFL) beat Rep. Susan Akland (GOP)
HD 23B – Rep. Patricia Mueller (GOP) beat Thomas Stiehm (DFL)
HD 32B – Matt Norris (DFL) beat Rep. Donald Raleigh (GOP)
HD 35A – Rep. Zack Stephenson (DFL) beat Rep. John Heinrich (GOP)
HD 48B – Lucille Rehm (DFL) beat Rep. Greg Boe (GOP)
HD 54A – Brad Tabke (DFL) beat Rep. Erik Mortensen (GOP)
See links below for more detailed election results and a roster of new elected officials
Roster of elected members of MN legislature
All 2022 general election results for Minnesota
November Election Just Ahead
The November election is just weeks away. A reminder that every constitutional office, congressional office, the state senate, and the state house of representatives is on the ballot. Ewald Consulting has prepared a voter guide outlining information on the candidates for the state legislative races. You can find that link in this update.
Looking Ahead to 2023
Despite reaching a global budget agreement, the 2022 regular session ended without a bonding bill, a tax bill, and several other supplemental budget bills. 2023 is a budgeting year, where the legislature and the governor must agree to a two-year state budget. If they fail to do so and a budget is not enacted by June 30, 2023, Minnesota could face a shutdown of state government services.
Control of the 2023 legislature remains uncertain ahead of election day, but a few key factors will certainly come into play for the new legislature. First, 2022 was a redistricting year. Incumbents running for re-election are doing so in seats that are in some cases vastly different than the districts they faced in the last election cycle. Regardless of election results, the 2023 legislature is likely to introduce a near-historic number of new faces onto the scene at the Capitol. A total of 47 legislators retired after the 2022 session, and the count increases to 59 when you include members seeking office in the other body or seeking elected office elsewhere. These retiring legislators represent more than 600 years of experience and knowledge of the legislative and budget processes.
The first weeks following the election will be busy for new and familiar faces alike, regardless of who controls the house and senate. In addition to voting on party leadership, the caucuses will have to sort out committee structure, appoint new committee chairs, and make committee assignments.
Please join us on October 6 for an event with Walker Orenstein and Todd Rapp! We look forward to their election prognostications for the 2022 Minnesota legislative and statewide races and their implications for the 2023 legislative session. Get expert analysis from our speakers on the current political landscape, trends, polling and other factors that will come into play for the November election.
Learn more and register here
Early voting has begun for the August 9 primaries. Register to vote at the link in our resources section at the end of this newsletter, or ensure you bring all necessary paperwork for same-day voter registration at your voting location. APM Research Lab has created a resource to analyze poll results for the 2022 election. In addition, we will provide this information in all upcoming editions of Ewald at the Capitol until the November election. In budget news, the Minnesota Department of Management and Budget (MMB) estimates an increase in the state general fund for 2022. In its July monthly update, MMB estimates that net general fund receipts for FY22 are now estimated to total $30.329 billion, $2.927 billion (10.7 percent) more than projected in the February 2022 Budget and Economic Forecast. However, MMB noted that some of this increase is the result of the timing of payments from Pass-Through-Entities (PTE).
Hero Pay Applications
During the 2022 session, the legislature passed a bill to provide $500 million in one-time bonus checks to pandemic frontline workers who qualify. The deadline to apply for these checks passed with nearly 1.2 million individuals applying, almost twice as many as were expected to qualify. The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry must review these applications to determine who is eligible according to parameters set by the legislation. Next month, applicants will receive an email to let them know of their eligibility, though they would still be able to appeal this decision. Checks are expected to be out sometime in early fall, once the size of payment and pool of recipients is confirmed. Poll Watching APM Research Lab put together a page to track and analyze poll results for this year’s election season in Minnesota. It includes a summary of poll results, candidate lists, fundraising summaries, and forecasted election outcomes as available. It tracks this data for the Governor, State Auditor, Attorney General, and Congressional races. Be sure to check the resource section of future Ewald at the Capitol newsletters to see updates to poll results in the weeks leading up to the election.
The August 9 primary is only 18 days away. Minnesota voters will decide who they want to represent their party in the 2022 congressional and legislative races. Voters will also vote in contested primaries for local races such as county commissioner and city council on their primary ballot. At the legislative level, there are 25 Senate primaries and 19 for the House. Several incumbents in the House and Senate are facing primary challenges. Incumbents facing challengers (Senate):
Incumbents facing challengers (House):
Incumbents paired due to redistricting:
Check out the Ewald 2022 Voter Guide: