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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Michael Nelson (DFL)

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House Democrats expected to approve investments in modern, responsive, and transparent State Government

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

St. Paul, MN - Today, the Minnesota House of Representatives is expected to approve the State Government Finance and Elections Committee’s bill, made up of proposals from legislators to finance a variety of state agencies, boards, and constitutional offices. Also included in the legislation are provisions to continue and strengthen Minnesota’s exemplary record of free, fair, and accessible elections. The bill also contains improvements to Minnesota’s state pensions plan.

“Minnesotans deserve a modern state government that is responsive to their needs, transparent in its actions, and protects the elections system that has consistently made our state a leader in voter turnout," said Rep. Michael V. Nelson (DFL - Brooklyn Park), chair of the State Government Finance and Elections Committee. "Passing this bill will help build a state government all Minnesotans can take part in.”

Some of the most significant investments in the committee’s bill are dedicated to expenditures necessary for the modernization and security of the state’s software and IT systems, including $12 million to the Revisor’s Office to upgrade software, $12.4 million to MNIT to improve the resilience of state technology, $10.18 million for cybersecurity, and $7.28 million to stabilize and sustain the state’s enterprise resource planning systems.

“The House DFL is committed to improving cybersecurity for our state government,” said Speaker Melissa Hortman. “That’s why we are devoting significant resources in our state government bill this year to modernize Minnesota’s IT systems to ensure our state is prepared and protected.”

The investments related to elections provide a $200,000 appropriation, which is required to secure an additional $1 million in federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) election funds allocated to Minnesota by Congress this year. Other elections provisions include updates to expand the security and integrity of absentee ballots while also allowing them to be counted 14 days prior to an election rather than the current 7, and protections for election officials, who have faced unprecedented levels of threats and hostility during recent cycles. 

“Amidst a troubling rise in the demonization, intimidation, and downright threats directed at election officials, Democrats in the Minnesota House are taking action to protect the individuals who make sure our elections are administered with integrity and accuracy,” said House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler. “We will not allow unfounded allegations or conspiracy theories to tarnish Minnesota’s best-in-the-nation elections system.”

Other notable components in the legislation focus on government transparency and accessibility, including a ban on lobbyist social clubs and updates to campaign financial disclosures. There is also $250,000 to support accessible technology, $150,000 for enterprise language access services, and the establishment of the Office of Enterprise Translation Services to make legislative materials more accessible. 

Additional policy components of the legislation include a study of the Minnesota Statutes to determine compliance with the federal Equal Rights Amendment, adding Juneteenth and Indigenous Peoples’ Day as annual state holidays, creating a legislative task force on aging, and establishing a commission to develop, design, and recommend to the legislature a new official state flag and seal. The existing flag and seal would be retired May 11, 2023.

Hardworking public service workers in Minnesota deserve economic security as they build their earnings to establish a secure pension. House DFLers are improving Minnesota’s state pension plan by increasing the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) by 2.5% and investing a historic $390 million directly into our pension plans as part of the DFL’s commitment to state employees.

A summary of the bill can be found here, and a spreadsheet of the State Government appropriations can be found here. More information on state pensions is available here. Video of today’s floor debate can be found on the House Public Information YouTube channel.