Public Policy Update: Launching the 2023 Minnesota Legislative Session


The 93rd Minnesota Legislature is officially underway. There has been a flurry of action in the opening weeks, and based on how fast things are moving this update is likely at least partially dated by the time you read it. As always, you are invited to reach out to me for more information.

As of the writing of this post, the legislature is halfway through the third week of session. So far, the DFL trifecta and the estimated $17.6 billion budget surplus are resulting in a whirlwind of legislative action. The past few days have seen fast-paced movement on high-profile bills that include abortion protections, child care, marijuana legalization, driver’s licenses for all, and free school meals. Bills will continue to be introduced until the First Committee Deadline, which will occur on Friday, March 10. We currently have several bills at the Office of the Revisor of Statutes awaiting jacketing, these bills will be introduced into the legislature in the weeks to come. Additionally, Wilder is working through coalition, network, and agency partners to introduce and support several other bills that will be introduced in the first few weeks of February.


Here is a breakdown of a few notable bills that have already been introduced:

Paid Family & Medical Leave

12 weeks of paid leave guaranteed for all Minnesotans for things like adoption, parental leave, or taking care of loved ones. The plan is currently structured similarly to insurance programs, where the state, employer, and employee share the costs. The price for employee premiums will be determined once legislators decide on the equation that will be used to allocate funding to this initiative from the state’s budget. For up to date info on this bill, click on these links to track its movement in the House & the Senate.

Caregivers Stabilization Act of 2023

Caregiving sustainability and investments are another top priority at the legislature in the opening weeks. The Caregivers Stabilization Act (HF 32 & SF 7) seek to strengthen wages and the caregiving industry through a series of rate modifications to existing waiver services including Disability Waivers and Elderly Waivers. The bill also makes investments in home care, nursing facilities, intermediate care facilities, and emergency and non-emergency medical transportation services. Additionally, the legislation calls for funding in residential setting closure prevention programs and expands the emergency staffing pool to include providers and recipients of certain recipients of home and community-based services.

No-Cost School Meals

Companion bills (HF 5 & SF 123) have progressed through their first committees in each chamber. The bill language seeks to create a universal program that provides free breakfast and lunch at schools at no-cost for all students. This bill is built off the success demonstrated by a COVID-era rule that gave schools the flexibility required to offer free meals to all students without income qualifications and proof of family income levels. This COVID era rule dramatically decreased food insecurity for children in Minnesota but expired this school year. California, Maine, and Colorado have already implemented similar policies in their states. Follow along here for updates on each bills movement in the House & Senate respectively.

Expanded Access to Drivers Licenses

Transportation to and from services has been a top concern for Wilder providers during our agenda setting process meetings. While transportation issues will not be resolved with a single bill or bill package, expanded access to driver’s licenses can be one part of the greater solution. HF 4 and SF 27 seek to expand access to drivers licenses and state identification cards to those who cannot show proof of documented presence in the United States. The bill has passed the House in the 2021 and 2022 session but failed in the Senate. 18 other states have already passed similar legislation.

Full Service Community Schools Investments

Full Service Community Schools (FSCS) like those served by Achievement Plus are critical for improving student learning outcomes and bridging gaps is a holistic manner. HF 21 and its companion SF 20 want to support the impressive work of FSCS’s with a $90 million investment in FY 2023. The bills were introduced into both chambers and received their first hearings, quickly attaining more support from legislators who signed on as Co-Authors. Click on the HF 21 & SF 20 hyperlinks above to track the progress of these bills.

CROWN Act of 2023

 CROWN stands for Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair. HF 37 & SF 44 are Minnesota’s version of a national campaign to specify that discrimination of hair type is in violation with various state’s human rights acts. Similar bills have already been adopted by 19 other states and has been introduced in Minnesota several times unsuccessfully. The rapid movement on CROWN this session and the current policy environment means that this bill is likely to pass into law before the end of session.

Childcare Stabilization Act of 2023

Companion bills (HF 150 & SF 53) have been introduced into each chamber calling for the appropriation of over $30 million to help families and providers alike cope with the child care crisis that COVID-19 exacerbated. In its current form, the bill will make three appropriations from the General Fund in FY23. These appropriations would fall under the following categories.

  • $20 million for Early Learning Scholarships, which help families across with pre-K education
  • $20 million for the Basic Sliding Fee Program. This program includes a formula that allocates various amounts of support based on a family’s gross annual income. To qualify families must have children 12 or younger or children 14 or younger with special needs.
  • $11 million for the Child Care Stabilization Grant Program, which pulls from American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding and supports child care providers on a formula that is based on the Full Time Equivalents (FTE) of staff.

Major housing legislation and other bills are expected soon

The bills listed above are only the first wave of countless bills that will be introduced into the 93rd Legislature. It appears that the state is moving away from its complete reliance on omnibus bills. In fact, a tax conformity bill has already been passed and signed into law. Notably, it was never laid over for inclusion into an omnibus bill which marks a departure from “business as usual” at the Capitol.

We also expect to see major housing legislation coming soon. The various committees with jurisdiction over housing have focused their first few weeks on educating new legislators on the housing crisis in Minnesota. This has resulted in less bills introductions in housing than in some other policy areas. Rest assured, bills are coming so stay tuned for future updates.

Major legislation will also be packaged in state agency requests, which will become clear when the Governors’ Office releases its proposals for the policy areas that each respective agency has jurisdiction over. All these budget proposals are due to the legislature by January 24, 2023.

Governor’s budget proposals include $5.2 billion of the surplus for children, families & youth


In related news, Governor Walz began unveiling his budget proposals on January 17 during his visit to Adams Spanish Immersion School in Saint Paul. The Governor released the Children, Youth, & Families segment of his One Minnesota Budget. Here is a quick breakdown of what the Governor’s office is proposing:

$5.2 billion of the $17.6 budget surplus to go to policies and appropriations called for in his Children, Youth, & Families proposal. These proposals and appropriations include:

  • Indexing the General Funding Formula for Inflation Starting in 2026: Indexing the general fund to inflation will automatically account for inflation and will adjust funding accordingly.
  • Increase the General Education Funding Formula in 2024 & 2025: A 4% increase in 2024 and a 2% increase in 2025 is meant to support schools combat the negative effects of inflation until the general fund can be indexed to inflation in 2026.
  • Expansion of the Child & Dependent Care Tax Credit: Families earning less than $200,000 annually could get up to a $4,000 tax credit for one child, $8,000 for two, and $10,5000 for three.
  • Increase Child Tax Credits for Lower-Income Minnesotans: This could give an additional $1,000 per child for up to three children.
  • Reducing the Special Education Cross Subsidy by 50 Percent: Minimizes/eliminates the need for schools to pull from the general fund to cover special education costs.
  • Support for Existing Legislation: The Governor’s proposal also throws its support behind legislation listed in more detail above, including Universal Free Meals at School and support for Full Service Community Schools.

For more information on the Governor’s proposals, please read the linked Kids & Families Fact Sheet.

We will post another update in February to keep you updated on the happenings at the Capitol and to breakdown the other segments of the Governor’s proposal. Don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions, comments, concerns, or to share what you want to see us advocate for this session.

Contact the Public Policy Team

Dan Buck

Public Policy Associate Program Manager

Michelle Koffa Dormoh

Community Equity Program Manager

Adrián Rafael Magaña

Director of Public Policy & Community Relations