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House passes $1.4 billion omnibus jobs, labor package

(House Photography file photo)
(House Photography file photo)

(Updated 9:42 p.m.)

The DFL has an audacious plan to solve the workforce shortage, eliminate economic disparities, and improve workplace safety across multiple industries.

HF3028/SF3035*, as amended to include House language, would make dozens of policy changes and appropriate more than $1.4 billion in the coming biennium.

A contentious proposal that generated hours of debate, the House passed the omnibus jobs, economic development, labor, industry finance bill, as amended, Monday evening by a 69-61 vote.

It will now likely go to a conference committee to iron out the differences with the Senate bill, sponsored by Senate President Bobby Joe Champion (DFL-Mpls) and passed 35-31 April 14.

Last week, the House Ways and Means Committee combined the omnibus economic development finance bill (HF3028), omnibus workforce development finance bill (HF2233) and omnibus labor and industry finance bill (HF2755) into one package that was subsequently amended to SF3035.

The committee chairs that produced the three House bills asserted the combined omnibus would have a transformative effect on Minnesota’s economic landscape.

“This bill makes big investments to address the economic disparities that persist in Minnesota,” said Rep. Hodan Hassan (DFL-Mpls), sponsor of HF3028.

She noted the economic development portion would provide loans to small businesses owned by people of color and send targeted funding to Twin Cities neighborhoods damaged during the civil unrest following the murder of George Floyd as well as parts of northern Minnesota harmed by the closure of the Canadian border during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This workforce budget will be a historical reinvestment in our people and infrastructure for generations to come,” said Rep. Jay Xiong (DFL-St. Paul).

He highlighted the inclusion of new competitive job training grants that would target communities of color and low-income communities, as well as establishing an Office of New Americans to help immigrants economically integrate into Minnesota.

“From meatpackers to nursing homes to the refinery workers, [the labor part of the bill] is about worker safety,” said Rep. Michael Nelson (DFL-Brooklyn Park).

He also mentioned the proposed establishment of an ergonomics safety program and updates to Minnesota OSHA to bring the state agency in compliance with federal standards.

[MORE: View workforce development; economic development; and labor and industry spreadsheets]

Funding for economic development

The largest bucket of 2024-25 biennial funding — $948.4 million — is set aside for economic development programs, including:

  • $300 million to match federal funds for microelectronic manufacturing facilities and workforce development;
  • $125.87 million for the empowering enterprise program (Twin Cities civil unrest recovery);
  • $20 million for the emerging developer fund program;
  • $10 million for targeted community capital project grant programs;
  • $10 million for small business partnership grants;
  • $6 million to fund competitive grants to attract large-scale sporting and other major events to the state;
  • $5 million in fiscal year 2024 for Bloomington to prepare a bid to host the 2027 World’s Fair;
  • $5 million for the Neighborhood Development Center;
  • $4 million for Grand Portage area economic relief; and
  • $3 million for grants to local communities to increase the number of quality child care providers.

Funding for workforce development

Appropriations totaling $362.34 million in the coming biennium would go toward addressing the state’s acute workforce shortage. There are currently 212,000 job openings in Minnesota, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

These funds would be utilized for workforce initiatives at the Department of Employment and Economic Development, of which $204.8 million would go to the department’s Employment and Training/Workforce Development Division for worker-training grants, loans to entrepreneurs or businesses, and subsidized car loans to help low-income people get to work.

Notable individual programs include:

  • $60 million for the Targeted Population Workforce Program;
  • $15 million for the Drive for 5 Workforce Fund;
  • $8.9 million for New Youth-at-Work Competitive Grants;
  • $6 million for the Destination Medical Center in southeast Minnesota;
  • $6 million for Youthprise, which provides training and technical support to youth organizations;
  • $5.1 million for Pathways to Prosperity;
  • $3 million for Summit Academy; and
  • $3 million for the Office of New Americans.

Other department divisions and programs would receive:

  • $84.7 million for Vocational Rehabilitation Services;
  • $25 million for General Support Services;
  • $25 million for Business and Community Development; and
  • $22.9 million for State Services for the Blind.

Funding for labor and industry

The labor and industry portion of the finance bill would appropriate $100.1 million to government agencies and programs, including:

  • $30.91 million for the Workers’ Compensation fund, an increase of nearly 25% from the last biennium;
  • almost $7.5 million for the Bureau of Mediation Services, a 36.2% bump;
  • $3.6 million for instituting the ergonomics safety program;
  • $3.2 million for prevailing wage enforcement, a 94% boost;
  • over $1.2 million in grant monies for Building Strong Communities, Inc., including $456,000 for the Helmets to Hardhats Minnesota initiative;
  • $963,000 for a newly established Nursing Home Workforce Standards Board; and
  • $544,000 for outreach and enforcement related to updates of the Women’s Economic Security Act.

Policy changes galore

Major policy provisions that would affect governmental authorities and impact private industry include:

  • updating the Packinghouse Workers Bill of Rights to expand protections for food processing workers and provide those protections to a wider pool of workers;
  • aiming to raise wages and working conditions for nursing home employees via the creation of a Nursing Home Workforce Standards Board;
  • establishing a getting to work grant program;
  • creating small business navigator positions within the Small Business Assistance Office;
  • attempting to improve training and safety standards for third-party contractors employed at Minnesota’s two oil refineries by requiring participation in registered apprenticeship programs;
  • strengthening health and safety regulations at meat and poultry processing workplaces with 100 or more employees, largely in response to working conditions experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • establishing the Office of Child Care Community Partnerships;
  • creating the Minnesota Forward Fund;
  • establishing new worker safety requirements in the warehouse industry in the hopes of combatting the high rates of worker injuries seen at Amazon warehouses;
  • striving to combat wage theft in the construction industry by holding general contractors civilly liable for malfeasance committed by their hired subcontractors;
  • expanding the types of businesses eligible to receive grants from the job creation fund; and
  • mandating an ergonomics safety program at all hospitals, outpatient surgical centers, and nursing homes, as well as at all warehouses and meatpacking or poultry processing sites with 100 or more workers to minimize workplace injuries.


Nearly 20 amendments were offered during the debate. Four were adopted, with two making notable changes:

  • moving $100 million from the general economic development program to two specific programs that utilize matching federal funds: $75 million would be transferred to the state competitiveness fund and $25 million to the climate innovation finance authority; and
  • tweaking the base appropriations in certain funding areas for fiscal year 2026.

Unsuccessful amendments included the removal of the expanded construction worker wage theft protections, the deletion of the proposed Nursing Home Workforce Standards Board, and three attempts to redirect money toward grants for nursing homes.

— Session Daily writer Tim Walker contributed to this report.

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