Minnesota has had one of the most productive sessions in the entire country. The Democratic-Farmer-Labour or DFL (Democratic Party in Minnesota) implemented numerous policies that seek to benefit the people of Minnesota. More impressively they did it with a slim majority of 6 votes in the House and 1 vote in the Senate.
The biggest aspect that was implemented is the expansion of Medical and Family leave to all citizens of Minnesota. The program will offer 20 weeks of paid time off for serious medical care or caring for a family member, including newborn babies. At this point, only 24% of Minnesotans had access to paid leave, with the majority(82% of the 24% are in the top half of earners.) This program will begin in 2026, with the new payroll tax of 0.7% that applies to all business owners, funding the program to all Minnesotans.
The legislature also legalized marijuana in the state. Individuals who are 21 or older can legally possess and purchase marijuana. The bill will expunge marijuana arrests from criminal records. The legislature estimates it will create 67 million to 229 million dollars for the state over the next four years (this figure did not include cost savings that would come from Police, Court, and Prison system or revenue from permit issuing to businesses either.)
Helping the Children
The state has made school lunches and breakfasts for children free in the entire state. The cost of the program is 338 million for the next two budgets, cutting into the 17 billion dollar surplus in the state. Another bill that looks to help children in the state is the implementation of a child tax credit, similar to the American Rescue Plan in 2021, which saw the evaporation of child poverty in the US. The tax credit will be for households making under 75,000 dollars single filing or 150,000 dollars filing jointly. Households will receive 3,000 dollars per child under five years old. Households will receive 1,000 dollars per child 6-17 years old. The tax credit will reduce the state revenue by 2.29 Billion next year. The credit would reduce child poverty in the state by 25%.
The state has made public college tuition-free for Minnesota families who make below 80,000 a year. The overall cost of the bill will be 117 million to start with 49.5 million annually afterward.
Minnesota Democrats also expanded gun control measures, passing red-flag laws and expanding background checks to private transfers of firearms.
A 240 million dollar bill will get rid of the dangerous lead pipes in the state. A bill banning noncompete agreements between employees and their previous employer. The state also created a new state housing program. A metro tax of 0.25% will be used to fund a portion of the new housing program. The legislature raised the education spending by 10%. They tied education funding to inflation to ensure that schools are getting the same level of funding every year. They expanded voting access, allowing for pre-registering to vote for 16 and 17-year-olds and automatic registrations. They expanded anti-trust powers to the Attorney General of the state. A new Prescription Drug Affordability board can cap the cost of pharmaceuticals. Digital Fair Repair Act requires electronic manufacturers to make tools and parts available to give consumers the choice to repair instead of purchasing new items and versions.
How to Pay for It?
The cost of these new programs will be paid for by the current surplus and new taxes. The new taxes include the metro tax, an index of the gas tax to inflation, which will raise the gas tax by 5 cents per gallon, raising the cost to 33 cents from 28 cents per gallon, and a delivery tax of .50 cents for deliveries over 100 dollars.
Ultimately, they passed and enacted over 31 bills in the 2023 sessions. This simply covers the biggest changes in the session. This session has shown the power of a united party, the Minnesota Democrats embraced the progressive members and their policies. It also displays the importance of state elections.