Each week during the session, we're tracking important pieces of legislation as they move through the legislature.

Take a look at bill progress in both the Minnesota House and Senate, as well as weekly previews and reviews, below.

6/19/2020 — Special Session Review

Friday marked one week since Minnesota's special session began, but little visible progress was shown over that time. The special session also ended late Friday night.

Last week, Republicans tried to end Gov. Tim Walz's emergency powers but House Democrats blocked that from happening.

Lawmakers have worked on several bills but there hasn't been much progress to show for it as of Friday night.

Democrats and Republicans have both publicly chided each other for the lack of cooperation and pointed fingers at each other for the lack of progress on several major bills. And while Gov. Walz has said he's open to compromise on many topics, he's also said there are certain bills that he's not willing to budge on.

Senate Republicans had set a plan to adjourn on Friday evening early in the week while Walz urged lawmakers to just stay until the work was done, saying that he can call them right back for another special session if there's more work to do.

All of that has led to more public showmanship from each party than actual progress. However, lawmakers did vote on some legislation.

The House passed a police accountability bill to ban chokeholds and prohibit warrior training, among some other things, but that and other police accountability bills made little progress in the Senate.

The House also passed a bill known as the PROMISE Act to help businesses, many run by minorities and immigrants, recover and rebuild.

It also passed:

  • Federal CARES Act funding legislation, which would distribute $841 million to Minnesota cities, counties and towns.
  • An education policy bill.
  • Legislation authorizing Minnesota Management and Budget to give grants to those impacted by COVID-19.
  • A bill to create a Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training and a Police-Community Relations Council to assess and make recommendations for improving policing.

Meanwhile, the Senate approved:

However, only a few of the above bills approved by each chamber were approved or close to being approved in both chambers.

Those included:

However, each chamber approved different versions of those three bills that weren't ironed out as of Friday night, meaning the bill can't go to Walz to become law.

Notably absent from the list of bills is a bonding bill, which Walz highlighted as extremely important to pass this session given that one wasn't passed last year and the cost to borrow for projects is extremely low now due to the pandemic.

The governor did sign three bills this week but not any of the big ones many hoped he'd be signing. He also was able to approve $60 million in funding for businesses impacted by COVID-19.

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, told reporters late Friday night that the Senate would adjourn later in the evening but another one-day special session in the future is possible if agreements are reached prior to convening.

View all previous legislative preview and review posts by clicking here.

Legislation progress

5/22/2020 — Legislative Review

The 2020 legislative session officially wrapped up Monday. Lawmakers worked throughout the weekend to finalize several bills, but the biggest news was a bonding bill not being passed. That means lawmakers will convene for a special session, likely next month.

Monday, lawmakers reviewed the session and looked ahead to a likely special session. Gov. Tim Walz said he's aiming for June 12 as the start of a special session but hasn't fully decided yet. That's because his peacetime emergency is scheduled to run until June 12 but could be extended if officials think the situation warrants it. Republican lawmakers, specifically House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, has previously said he'd block any bonding bill if the peacetime emergency is still in effect.

However, moods soured later this week when Minnesota Management and Budget ruled that the Senate's action on state employee contracts over the weekend, in which lawmakers postponed scheduled raises until next year, constituted approval and authorized immediate raises as previously scheduled. Republicans decried the decision and called the decision by Walz's administration unreasonable. We'll see if that changes how agreeable lawmakers are when the special session eventually convenes.

Of course, the biggest news this week came when Walz announced a phased plan to reopen several businesses, including bars, restaurants and salons, beginning June 1. While it's a step toward reopening society, many business owners expressed disappointment with the announcement and said it doesn't go far enough.

That order also kept strong restrictions in place for places of worship, but Minnesota's Catholic and some Lutheran churches expressed disappointment with the plan and said they'd defy the order and follow their own restrictions. President Donald Trump on Friday then classified places of worship as essential, allowing them to reopen.

Also this week, Walz signed two executive orders extending previous provisions providing relief to truckers supporting the food chain and farmers by exempting drivers from certain regulations.

Legislators on the Minnesota House Select Committee on Minnesota's Pandemic Response and Rebuilding also held its first hearing and heard from nurses about challenges they're facing on the front lines of the pandemic.


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