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House passes state and local government agreement that calls for new state flag, changes to legislative procedure

Rep. Ginny Klevorn presents the conference committee report on HF1830, the state government finance bill, on the House Floor May 19. (Photo by Andrew VonBank)
Rep. Ginny Klevorn presents the conference committee report on HF1830, the state government finance bill, on the House Floor May 19. (Photo by Andrew VonBank)

With four days left in the regular session, the House passed a funding mechanism for itself and others in the next two fiscal years.

Also included is a major policy change for when members get together and a minor one for when they begin.

The 299-page conference committee report on the state government finance bill, that also includes local government and elections provisions, was passed 69-62 Friday and now heads for the Senate. Rep. Ginny Klevorn (DFL-Plymouth) and Sen. Erin Murphy (DFL-St. Paul) sponsor HF1830.

“This legislation contains procedures; prudent, targeted funding for state and local government; a solid foundation for government that serves all Minnesotans," Klevorn said. "With this bill we will begin to rectify years of disinvestment, this bill will offset prior funding gaps and allow agencies to provide needed services for Minnesotans.”

Acknowledging it’s not the “sexiest” bill, Rep. Emma Greenman (DFL-Mpls) said it helps provide the “scaffolding and the foundation” for the work state government does for all Minnesotans.  

MN House debates conference report on state government finance bill 5/19/23

Among concerns expressed by Rep. Jim Nash (R-Waconia) is an approximately 41% growth over base spending and expanded powers of the executive branch, including the attorney general’s office. Again quoting Oscar Wilde, he said, “The bureaucracy is expanding to meet the needs of the expanding bureaucracy.”

The agreement calls for, beginning with the 2025 session, the session start date would be “the first Tuesday after the second Monday in January of each odd-numbered year.” Additionally, the agreement would 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.” In current statute, a legislative day is described as “a day when either house of the legislature is called to order.”

Two things over the heads of legislators would also be different at times next session:

  • the electrolier hanging in the Capitol Rotunda would be lit on days the Legislature meets and at other agreed-upon times. Now it is only lit on Statehood Day, May 11; and
  • a different state flag and seal is called for by Jan. 1, 2024, via creation of a 13-member State Emblems Redesign Commission — plus two House and two Senate ex-officio nonvoting members — 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.”

The agreement checks in at $1.53 billion in net General Fund 2024-25 biennial spending, $410 million over base. It includes additional spending for the state’s constitutional offices, more than 30 boards, agencies and councils, and the Administration and Revenue departments. 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 state and local government change item spreadsheet]

Among policy changes the agreement would:

  • create 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;
  • stipulate that if the Senate does not reject a gubernatorial department head appointment within 60 legislative days of receipt of the appointment, the Senate has consented to the appointment;
  • require a state agency to perform a financial review of grant and business subsidy recipients when at least $50,000 is to be allotted;
  • replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day;
  • change the effective date of a Juneteenth law enacted earlier this session to Feb. 4, 2023;
  • adopt some recommendations from a January 2021 report of the Advisory Task Force on State Employment and Retention of Employees with Disabilities; and
  • designate the Bill and Bonnie Daniels Firefighters Hall and Museum in Minneapolis as the state fire museum.

Appropriately in “No Mow May,” potentially the most notable change the public would notice in local government-related changes is 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, but not noxious weeds.


General Fund spending of almost $24.62 million in fiscal years 2023-25 is called for, a $9.5 million increase. That includes $2.5 million to assist local governments with election infrastructure and staffing.

[MORE: View the change item spreadsheet]

“Minnesota’s elections have always been among the smoothest and most secure in the nation, but passing this Elections bill will make our elections even safer, easier, and more inclusive than they’ve ever been.” Rep. Mike Freiberg (DFL-Golden Valley) said in a statement.

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.

Other policy includes:

  • 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;
  • the Office of the Secretary of State would be required to study issues related to voter engagement, education, and improvements to the election system, maybe including ranked-choice voting;
  • a handful of House and Senate district boundary changes, including one that affects two voters;
  • 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.

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