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House closes 2024 session in chaotic fashion, trading bonding for budget boosts

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

It was a session of modest ambitions.

After 2023 produced a record $72 billion in biennial funding, Minnesota’s legislative leaders were dampening expectations for anything resembling an encore. Tweaks and bonding seemed to be the chief items on the agenda.

Before the session started, House Speaker Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park) said, “The state’s borrowing bill will be the biggest order of business.” House Minority Leader Lisa Demuth (R-Cold Spring) said early in the session that fixing an issue with potential use of force by school resource officers was a top Republican priority, and a bill was signed into law relatively early in the session to address that issue.

On Sunday, both chambers of the Legislature finished their business for the year by the midnight deadline, and bonding bills fell by the wayside in the closing hours as DFL priorities in the House shifted toward getting a state equal rights amendment on the 2026 statewide ballot, cutting a deal for drivers with the companies that run rideshare services Lyft and Uber, and approving more than $450 million in supplemental funding for the current biennium.

House Minority Leader Lisa Demuth and House Majority Leader Jamie Long engage in a tense discussion on the House Floor following the introduction of the tax bill, HF5247, amended to include eight other bills that had previously been tabled. (Photo by Michele Jokinen)

As for bonding, Gov. Tim Walz proposed a $982 million capital investment plan, but the only 2024 bonding bill the House approved wasn’t passed by the Senate before midnight adjournment. While even-numbered years are generally called “bonding years” and the odd-numbered ones “budget years,” legislators stepped outside convention with a $2.6 billion infrastructure investment signed into law in 2023.

As for those tweaks, should they be signed into law, here are some of the changes coming Minnesota’s way.


One area subject to updates will be the landmark 2023 legislation legalizing adult-use recreational cannabis. The Office of Cannabis Management will now be allowed to issue licenses to potential retailers without first requiring they obtain a physical space to conduct business. The idea is to speed up the path for retail operations to begin in the state.

Another change would allow “social equity applicants” — defined as people harmed by over-prosecution of cannabis laws in the past — to get earlier approval of retail licenses.


Consumer protections loomed large with legislation that will protect minors appearing in online content, restrict how collection agencies can collect medical debt, and require insurance coverage for medically necessary gender-affirming care.

A high-profile bill to expand the rights of online ticket buyers will become law, effective Jan. 1, 2025, requiring online bulk ticket resellers such as Ticketmaster to display “all-in pricing” to ensure ticket buyers know the total cost of a ticket up front.

The “Prohibiting Social Media Manipulation Act” will require a social media platform to allow users to indicate what content they do or do not want and requiring a platform’s algorithm to abide by those preferences.

Rideshare drivers celebrate early Monday morning after House and Senate passage of a bill that would set minimum pay for Uber and Lyft drivers and keep the companies operating in Minnesota. (Photo by Andrew VonBank)


The education finance bill will increase education spending by $43 million in fiscal year 2025, including $37 million in additional funding for the Read Act, paying student teachers a stipend for their work, and creating an attendance and truancy pilot program.


The Renewable Development Account was created to fund alternative energy projects, and this year’s legislation will send $6 million to Minneapolis’ Sabathani Community Center for a geothermal energy system and $5 million to an anaerobic digester system for Ramsey and Washington counties. The “Solar Rewards” program will be extended by 10 years. And several permitting reform measures will be implemented that are designed to speed up adding renewable energy sources to the electrical grid.


Between the end of session last year and the beginning of session this year, the State of Minnesota was directed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to address elevated nitrate levels in drinking water in eight southeastern counties. Lawmakers approved $2.8 million to make grants available for approximately 9,000 households for them to get nitrate treatment equipment.

Rep. Rick Hansen (DFL-South St. Paul) said it’s possible the most important thing the Legislature did this year is providing a framework for royalties and regulations to extract helium and possible hydrogen. A reservoir of helium discovered in northern Minnesota could potentially make the state a leader in clean energy raw materials.


Health plans and medical assistance programs will be required to cover abortions and abortion-related services. Eligible employers will be allowed to forgo providing insurance coverage of contraception and abortions through a religious objection provision.

Medical assistance programs will be required to cover gender-affirming care, as of Jan. 1, 2025. Insurance plans will also be required to cover orthotics and prosthetics — including wigs for people with cancer.

House and Senate DFL Media Availability 5/20/24

An Office of Emergency Medical Services will replace the Emergency Medical Services Regulatory Board.

Higher Education

A scholarship program for college students who have been in foster care will receive a $5 million boost, while $500,000 will go toward Head Start child care and early learning centers on Minnesota State campuses.


The tenant-landlord bill will allow crime victims to terminate their rental lease without penalty if they fear imminent violence and need to find a living situation after experiencing domestic or sexual abuse or harassment.

The Minnesota Supreme Court will be asked to retroactively expunge rental evictions.

A study on the emergency shelter needs for transgender individuals will be launched.

Human Services

The state will apply to the federal government for a Medicaid waiver to allow incarcerated individuals eligible for medical assistance to enroll prior to their release. This will allow each person to identify medical providers and support mechanisms before their release so that their re-entry into their community could be successful. 

Critical access nursing facilities will receive $576,000 in fiscal year 2025 and $1.33 million in the 2026-27 biennium.

Payment rates will be increased for substance use disorder providers by 20% for services with opioid use disorder medications. And recovery community organizations will be prohibited from classifying or treating recovery peers hired on or after July 1, 2024, as independent contractors.


A House provision in the labor finance bill will ensure a business does not classify, represent, treat, report, disclose, document, or enter into an agreement with an employee, or require employees to agree to be misclassified or treated as something other than an employee — such as an independent contractor.

House and Senate Republican Media Availability 5/20/24

The bill will add air flight crews to employees who can earn sick and safe time, while excluding volunteer or paid on-call firefighters, ambulance service personnel, elected officials and farm laborers.

Legacy Finance

Money from the Legacy Fund will provide $239.6 million for the Outdoor Heritage Fund, the Clean Water Fund, the Parks and Trails Fund, the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, which includes a $100,000 grant for the return of the Wizard of Oz ruby slippers to Minnesota.


Public Safety

New legislation will increase criminal penalties for swatting — making a fictitious emergency call that a serious crime is underway.

The penalty for making a straw firearm purchase — buying a firearm for someone ineligible to purchase or possess them — will be raised from a gross misdemeanor to a felony. Legislators also passed a measure that will ban binary trigger devices that enable a semiautomatic gun to fire more than one shot with a single pull and release of a trigger.

Other changes will:

  • prohibit a peace officer from using the perception of the odor of cannabis as the sole basis to search a motor vehicle;
  • make it a misdemeanor to interfere with a mandatory reporter making a report on child abuse;
  • make inadmissible in court any confession by a juvenile obtained using deception; and
  • prevent a peace officer making a traffic stop for a secondary offense of the motor vehicle code from asking if the driver can identify the reason for the stop. Instead, an officer must first inform the driver of the reason for the stop before engaging in questioning related to the suspected violation.

A $53.9 million public safety and judiciary supplemental budget bill had several big-ticket items, including $9.5 million for organizations and programs providing services to crime victims. Another $7.9 million will go to hire more staff at the state’s 11 prisons and boost their salaries, and $7 million from the 911 emergency telecommunications services account will create a digital geographic information system mapping data of school facilities.


The state’s child tax credit will be available in periodic advance payments. Language is also changed on tax forfeited property. And $2 million will be allocated to grants for tax credit outreach and taxpayer assistance grants.


“Roadable aircraft” (or flying cars) will be allowed to use state roads. And there will be red light and speed camera pilot programs in Minneapolis and Mendota Heights.

Uber and Lyft

And finally, on the final day of the session, the House approved the Uber Lyft bill, giving rideshare drivers a raise of $1.28 per mile and 31 cents per minute. There are provisions to mandate rideshare companies provide drivers with vehicle insurance and compensation for injuries occurring while driving to pick up passengers or when transporting them.

— Session Daily writers Brian Basham, Miranda Bryant, Margaret Stevens and Tim Walker contributed to this story.

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