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Minnesota House approves final State Government budget

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Minnesota House approves final State Government budget

 St. Paul, Minn. - Today, the Minnesota House approved the State Government, Elections, and Veterans & Military Affairs budget bill. The bill keeps voters’ political party private when voting in primaries, invests in Minnesota’s cyber security, and appropriates the full $6.6 million in federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) funding to secure Minnesota’s elections.

“Minnesotans have set the bar high when it comes to civic engagement. This budget lives up to that high standard, investing in election accessibility and security to make sure that every voice is counted, and that Minnesotans’ privacy is preserved,” said State Government Chair Michael Nelson (DFL - Brooklyn Park).

Minnesota is increasingly likely to experience cyber security threats. In addition to $20 million over four years for state cyber security improvements, the budget includes Chair Nelson’s provision to unlock $6.6 million in federal funding to support state efforts in securing election infrastructure against cyber threats. Though all 49 other states appropriated the funding right away and it passed off the Minnesota House floor with a major bipartisan vote of 105-23, Senate Republicans did not agree to appropriate the full funding until the special session.

The bill includes the House DFL elections bill to ensure Minnesotans can vote in primaries without their bosses, their neighbors, and strangers knowing their political preference. However, all other House elections provisions were refused by Senate Republicans, including automatic voter registration, reinstating voting rights to those who have completed prison sentences, free transit on Election Day, and a measure to improve campaign finance accountability.

“Minnesotans hold open and fair elections in high regard, and they deserve more than the few provisions included in this bill,” said Rep. Raymond Dehn, Chair of the House Subcommittee on Elections. “We’ve made some strides in election security and voting privacy, but had it not been for the refusal of GOP Senators we could have also included automatic voter registration, free public transit on Election Day, local option ranked choice voting, voter restoration and many nonpartisan provisions. Improving the accessibility of our elections for all Minnesotans will continue to be a priority for the DFL House.”

The Veterans and Military Affairs budget fully supports the Minnesota Department of Military Affairs’ and the Department of Veterans Affairs’ funding requests.

"I'm extremely pleased that our budget takes care of the needs of those who have served our country as well as those who are currently making sacrifices abroad," said Rep. Rob Ecklund (DFL - International Falls), chair of the House Veterans and Military Affairs Division. "We know our veterans face a number of challenges including housing, employment, health care, and with the criminal justice system. I'll be continuing the work to remove these challenges for those who have put on the uniform of this nation."

The bill language is available here.

A detailed summary is available here.