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Omnibus judiciary bills would increase public defender compensation, make policy changes

The bottom line in the omnibus judiciary finance bill is a $1.36 billion funding request for the 2024-25 biennium.

That number, presented to the House Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Committee Tuesday, is in HF1580, as amended by a delete-all amendment.

Rep. Jamie Becker-Finn (DFL-Roseville), the committee chair and bill sponsor, said members plan to consider the amendment, plus any others offered, and markup the bill Thursday.

Also sponsored by Becker-Finn, an omnibus judiciary policy bill, HF447, amended by a delete-all amendment, plus three other amendments, was approved and sent to the House Floor.

Omnibus judiciary finance bill

The Minnesota Constitution requires public defenders and civil legal aid lawyers be provided to all state residents upon request. But the state is failing to meet those obligations due to chronic underfunding, and this omnibus bill is a long-overdue attempt to correct that deficiency, said Becker-Finn.

House committee approves omnibus judiciary policy bill, HF447 3/28/23

To that end, the bill would appropriate $95.7 million to hire 100 more public defenders, who represent those accused of criminal offenses, and give them pay raises.

Civil Legal Services lawyers, who represent low-income clients in civil cases, would also see a compensation increase thanks to a proposed appropriation of $37.2 million.

The people sitting on the bench and the clerks working alongside them would get salary increases, too: Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, and District Court judges would get 4.4% raises, and $8.8 million would be allocated in the biennium to boost clerk’s base pay.

[MORE: View the spreadsheet]

Appropriations in the bill

The major items funded by the $1.36 billion 2024-25 biennium appropriation include:

  • $742.2 million district court operations;
  • $318.5 million for the Board of Public Defenders;
  • $91.6 million for the Minnesota Supreme Court;
  • $77.6 million for Civil Legal Services;
  • $50 million for the Guardian ad Litem Board;
  • $29 million for the Court of Appeals; and
  • $17.3 million for the Department of Human Rights to hire 26 more full-time employees, 16 of whom would work in the enforcement division.

Omnibus judiciary policy bill

The omnibus judiciary policy bill would update and add new provisions to civil law statutes related to property, data, civil rights, boards, contracts, forfeitures, marriage, and name changes.

Notable provisions in the bill would:

  • allow notaries public who are licensed in Minnesota to register to perform marriages;
  • create a new definition of “gender identity” in the Minnesota Human Rights Act;
  • permit a person filing a name change after a divorce to go back to their pre-divorce name without a criminal history check;
  • require places of public accommodation to provide closed-captioned television when a television is available;
  • allow lawsuits seeking damages to continue after the person suing has died;
  • modify the types of educational data that can be made public;
  • classify tax returns or bank account statements submitted to a political subdivision as part of an application for a license as private data;
  • limit the scope of indemnity agreements in public construction contracts; and
  • prohibit employers from asking job applicants about their past pay history.


What’s in the bills?

The following are selected bills that have been incorporated in part or in whole into the omnibus judiciary finance bill:

The following are selected bills that have been incorporated in part or in whole into the omnibus judiciary policy bill:

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