By Saul Myhre, Alliance Intern from University of Minnesota Twin Cities
While many state legislatures are passing regressive policies, Minnesota has passed a wide range of badly-needed, progressive bills meeting people’s fundamental needs. This is due to the work of Gov Tim Walz, Lt Gov Peggy Flanagan, and a Democratic Senate and House (with just a 1-vote Senate majority and 2 in the House). The historic legislation covers everything from climate action, abortion rights, and gun violence to the legalization of marijuana, paid family and medical leave, public education investments and universal school meals, per CBS.
The clean energy bill sets “new climate goals” including “requiring utilities to offer customers 100% carbon-free electricity by 2040,” according to CBS. All water service lines containing lead will be replaced through a $250 million grant program, according to Kare 11.
A bill was passed guaranteeing up to 12 weeks of partial pay for medical leave, “including for pregnancy, and…to take care of family members,” according to CBS. Taking care of family also now extends to primary and secondary school students, who can now benefit from the “universal school meals bill providing free breakfast and lunch to all K-12 students, regardless of their parents’ income.”
Minnesota guaranteed access to abortion for its citizens and those coming out of state with the “Protect Reproductive Options Act” which added a second line of defense to Doe v. Gomez passed in 1995 per the MN Attorney General’s office.
The legislators overcame the historic blockage of gun legislation by expanding background checks to “private gun transfers” and by creating a “red flag” law in which citizens can request the court to suspend “someone’s access to guns if determined dangerous in a court of law,” CBS confirmed.
The legislature also passed the “Cannabis Bill” legalizing recreational marijuana in the state while simultaneously working to expunge felony cannabis-related charges.
Rights are also being expanded in the voting sector as the “Democracy for the People Act” and the “Restore the Votes” bill assure automatic voter registration and restoration of the voting privileges of felons post-completion of incarceration, according to KARE 11.