Minnesota Dems Set Bar for State Legislatures, Passing Nearly Every Item on ‘Transformational’ Agenda
Progressives are applauding what Minnesota House Speaker Melissa Hortman called the state's "transformational" legislative session, which ended on Tuesday after the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party passed nearly every item on its agenda, securing economic justice, reproductive rights, and labor protections for Minnesotans.
With the DFL holding only a narrow majority in the state House and Senate—a six-vote and one-vote margin, respectively—policy researcher Will Stancil said on social media that "the scale of their achievement cannot be overstated."
"The Minnesota Legislature just completed what is probably the most productive session anywhere in the country since probably the New Deal," he said. "Sweeping bills and reforms across every area of life."
Stancil was among a number of progressives who highlighted nearly two dozen bills passed by the DFL and signed into law by Democratic Gov. Tim Walz, who posted an image of a whiteboard with party's legislative agenda on it along with the word, "Done."
The party's achievements over the past five months include a statewide paid family and medical leave program, which provides 20 weeks of leave; the legalization of recreational marijuana use; and a law providing free school meals to all public and charter school students—part of Walz's plan to "make Minnesota the best state in the country to raise a child."
"The work we've done over the last five months will make a generational impact on our state—it will lower costs, improve lives, and cut child poverty," said Walz on Tuesday.
The party also passed a bill codifying Roe v. Wadeamid a nationwide assault on abortion rights, legal protections for transgender youths who receive gender-affirming healthcare in the state, and a bill setting a minimum wage for Uber and Lyft drivers, leading a crowd of drivers to give the legislation's sponsor, state Sen. Omar Fateh (D-62), a "hero's welcome" after it passed on Sunday.
"Rather than looking at the November numbers result and imposing some kind of self-limiting narrative about the scope of their mandate, Minnesota Democrats looked at their priorities and said, 'How much of the list can we get done?'" said Stancil. "Turns out the answer was 'Almost everything.'"
The party's achievements in Minnesota, said pro-workers' rights media organization More Perfect Union, should "set the precedent for state governments across the country."
"On the balance," said the organization, "Minnesota progressives took narrow House and Senate majorities following years of gridlock—and in their first session in power, managed to set the bar for Democratic legislatures."
Julia Conley is a staff writer for Common Dreams.