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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Steve Elkins (DFL)

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Legislative Update

Friday, May 19, 2023

Dear Neighbors,

I hope you are able to get out and enjoy the improving weather. The legislative session is coming to an end as we are constitutionally required to adjourn Monday and will return to the Capitol next February. We have been busy passing many wonderful bills, and I would like to highlight some of them here.

Transformational Public Safety and Judiciary Budget

The public safety portion of the report invests in a diverse set of tools to improve public safety. It prioritizes a holistic approach on gun violence prevention, funding for law enforcement and victims of crime, juvenile justice reform, and more. This report will create a safer Minnesota while working to break cycles of crime and violence.

With significant investments in public defense and civil legal services, the creation of an Office of Appellate Counsel, the protection of students’ personal information, and the elimination of court document fees, the Judiciary portion of the bill is building a system that will more equitably serve the people of Minnesota.

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Historic K-12 budget

We passed our final education budget bill which invests $2.2 billion new dollars into our education system. This includes a 4% per-pupil increase in the general education formula in 2024 and a 2% increase in 2025 for an investment totaling $704 million, this increase is then linked to inflation in following years. This is the largest investment in our students in a generation and it is sorely needed! While it doesn’t get us back to historic funding levels, it is an incredible step forward and one that will benefit every student in the state.


Early Childhood Budget

Our final Early Childhood budget invests a historic $300 million over the next four years in Great Start scholarships. These early learning scholarships increase access to high-quality early care and learning programs for lower-income and vulnerable children to improve school readiness and allow parents to access employment and education opportunities. From birth to age five, a child’s brain develops more rapidly than at any other time in life. Research has made it clear that the quality of a child’s experiences in the first few years of life helps shape how their brain develops. These experiences have lasting impacts on their health and ability to learn and succeed in school and in life.

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Final Higher Education Budget Passes

We approved the conference committee report on the state’s Higher Education Budget. With declining enrollment across higher education, the report provides a record increase in investment for Minnesota’s colleges and universities to reverse this trend. 

The Higher Education budget for 2024-2025 funds the Office of Higher Education, the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, the University of Minnesota campuses, the Mayo Clinic Medical School, and Tribal Colleges. Notably, the budget provides free college to students with household income under $80,000.

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House Passes Final Adult Use Cannabis Bill

On Thursday we passed our final bill to legalize and regulate the adult-use of cannabis in Minnesota. The bill was reviewed and approved by 16 committees before reaching the House Floor. In the final version, it would permit a person age 21 or older to:

  • possess up to 2 ounces of cannabis flower in a public place or 2 pounds in a person’s residence;
  • possess or transport no more than 8 grams of adult-use cannabis concentrate;
  • possess or transport edible products infused with up to 800 milligrams of THC;
  • give away cannabis flower and cannabinoid products in an amount that is legal for a person to possess in public;
  • use cannabis flower and cannabinoid products in private areas; and
  • cultivate up to eight cannabis plants, of which four or fewer may be mature, flowering plants.

In its final form, the bill will allow cities to establish reasonable limits on the number of sales outlets and will allocate funds to local governments for enforcement. All of the revenue raised from taxes on cannabis will be spent on regulation, enforcement and mitigation. None of us are under the illusion that cannabis is a harmless substance; however, like alcohol or tobacco, it is better regulated than prohibited. 

Once signed into law, Minnesota will become the 23rd state to legalize adult-use cannabis and the third state in the Midwest. Created with this bill is the Office of Cannabis Management, which will oversee the regulation of cannabis, cannabis products, hemp edibles, and hemp-derived consumer products.

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Equal Rights Act

The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) is a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution that would guarantee equal legal rights for all American citizens regardless of sex. Minnesota ratified the ERA in 1973. It has been a long and hard-fought battle to get the ERA ratified, but it is more important than ever that we continue to fight for this important amendment. That's why I was proud to vote for a resolution urging Congress to ratify the ERA. Together, we can make sure that all Americans have the same rights under the law, regardless of their sex.


Final bills

This morning, we passed the State Government Finance and Elections bill. This evening, we expect to pass the Human Services bill, which will provide significant pay increases for direct care workers including nursing home workers and personal care attendants serving persons with disabilities. Over the weekend, we will be taking up the Transportation, Health and Tax bills – details to follow. Everything has to be passed by the end of the day on Monday. 

Keep in Touch

Don’t hesitate to reach out if I can provide any assistance. Please follow me on my Facebook page for further updates and invite your friends and family to do so as well. 

Thanks for the honor of representing you at the Capitol. 


Steve Elkins
Representative, District 50B
Minnesota House of Representatives

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