The big stuff at the Capitol always garners lots of press. They’re going to pass a billion-dollar borrowing bill, spend another $500 million on stuff we don’t need, chip away at our Second Amendment rights and put an equal rights amendment on the ballot in 2026 that further enshrines abortion into our state constitution and offers the most protected of all classes even more protection. But there are some smaller policy items working their way through conference committees in the final week that Minnesotans should be aware of. Here are seven worth tracking:


They’re passing something called the Packaging Waste and Cost Reduction Act that will hold packaging producers responsible for recycling costs of packaging waste. This will cost business more to package food and other items sold at the retail level. Business will pass those costs on to consumers, raising the price of groceries. Another regressive tax with no measurable benefit beyond making liberal lawmakers feel good.


There is language in the K-12 Education bill that creates a statewide standard for health education in schools. Up until now, health standards were developed at the local level, allowing communities to handle sensitive topics like sex education in a manner that reflected their values. Not good enough! Now the Commissar of Education will decide what your students will learn about health. They’re doing it to protect the children (from their parents).


Gov. Walz rebranded his California Fuel Standards to a new more extreme proposal called “Clean Transportation Standard,” or CTS, that would make Minnesota’s mandates the most extreme and most expensive in the country, surpassing California, Oregon, and Washington. They want to raise the cost of gas in Minnesota by 39 to 45 cents per gallon for no good reason! We wrote a lot about this horrible idea during the session. The good news? It’s been reduced to a study. The bad news? Legislative studies always make the case for implementation. This bad idea will be back in 2025.


The Paid Family Leave program is not even up and running yet and already the legislature is raising the payroll tax paid by every employer and every employee. They need more money because they made the program even more generous, allowing applicants to receive payments immediately, instead of waiting for a one-week grace period. This change will cost the program $300 million more per year, resulting in a 37% increase in last year’s payroll tax rate.


Surprising no one in 2024, the House and Senate will now mandate that insurance policies cover abortion and “gender affirming care.” Forty percent of abortions in Minnesota are already covered by Medicaid, so why not force private insurance to join the party? If you break a tooth, the replacement is considered cosmetic and elective, so insurance won’t cover the costs. But if you want to stop the perfectly natural and healthy process of childbirth or puberty, by all means, submit the bill to Blue Cross Blue Shield.


With the availability of marijuana about to increase exponentially, the legislature is considering cutting funding to educate youth and pregnant or breast-feeding women about the significant drug risks on child development. Even their budget cuts are impossible to support!


One hopeful provision is still alive: An amendment lifting the nuclear moratorium for small modular nuclear facilities was adopted in the Senate, bringing Minnesota a step closer to increasing energy reliability. We will report next week if it survivies the conference committee process.

One week left! The session officially ends Monday, May 20, but they can’t pass any bills on that day so all work needs to be wrapped up by Sunday. Watch this space next week for the final Capitol Watch of the season.

This post was originally sent to subscribers of the Capitol Watch email. To subscribe and see this content first throughout the legislative session, click here.

Source link