Democrats in the Minnesota Legislature checked off almost every item on their agenda this year, passing a sweeping $71.5 billion two-year budget that taps most of the state’s surplus.
But as is usually the case at the Capitol, some work was left unfinished when lawmakers adjourned on Monday. Legislators didn’t legalize sports gambling or approve a constitutional amendment that would ask voters to guarantee equal rights regardless of gender. And while they passed a bill that would give Uber and Lyft drivers pay raises and job protections, it’s unclear whether Gov. Tim Walz will sign it.
Additionally, Walz and legislative leaders have hinted at the possibility of a special session this summer to address a completely different matter.
Here’s a look at what was left unfinished, what is up in the air and what legislators might act on later this year.
A bill to legalize sports gambling in Minnesota didn’t make it out of committee in the House and sputtered in the Senate despite a last-minute push. The point of contention was how much money to send to the state’s two horse tracks, which were left out of the initial bill. The tracks, tribes and legislators never agreed on an amount.
House Speaker Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, said sports betting will get a second look next year.
Equal Rights Amendment
The bill that would put a constitutional amendment on the ballot asking voters to guarantee equal rights passed the Senate but not the House. The Equal Rights Amendment will be reconsidered next year, Hortman said.
“I want to look at both the substance of the amendment — in depth, with the entire caucus — and make sure that we have a really good plan to go out and unite Minnesotans around a vision for the Equal Rights Amendment,” Hortman said.
The Legislature passed a bill related to wage raises and job protection for rideshare drivers, but Walz has not committed to signing it. Uber and Lyft officials have called on Walz to veto the bill, saying it would force them to hike fees and stop serving parts of the state.
Walz told reporters Wednesday he still hadn’t decided whether he’ll sign the bill.
“I’m still looking,” Walz said. “We’re getting some input from other stakeholders, and I will weigh it.”
Walz and legislative leaders said there could be a special session later this year to pass legislation related to the proposed Fairview-Sanford Health merger. They’ve said they want to give the University of Minnesota time to come up with a plan to preserve its health care facilities owned by Fairview.
“If we come back to work on the University of Minnesota hospital situation, we will be very focused on that,” Hortman said.
Staff writers Rochelle Olson and Jessie Van Berkel contributed to this report.
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