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Minnesota House passes bills to restore voting rights for felons, make Juneteenth a state holiday

MN Legislature set to pass bills on clean energy, restoring voting rights to felons, Juneteenth
MN Legislature set to pass bills on clean energy, restoring voting rights to felons, Juneteenth 02:13

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota legislature on Thursday advanced three bills and two of them are moving to Gov. Tim Walz's desk for signature. 

100% Clean Energy

The Senate late Thursday passed a bill requiring that utilities offer 100% clean energy to consumers by 2040. It is a top priority for Democrats in control of the Capitol, and Gov. Tim Walz will soon sign it.  It was a party-line vote 34-33.

Supporters say the new benchmark is an important tool to curb climate change's impact on our communities, while opponents argue it will be costly for consumers and it mandates unreliable sources to keep the lights on.

But more than half of the state's electricity already is carbon-free, between renewable energy like wind and solar -- and nuclear energy.

Restoring Voting RIghts To People With Felony Records

Across the hall, Minnesota House gave the OK Thursday night, by a vote of 71-59, to restore voting rights for people with felony records once they are no longer behind bars.

Current law prohibits voting until a person's  sentence is complete, including probation and parole. Under this bill, a person with a felony conviction would be able to cast a ballot upon release from incarceration.

Two Republicans broke with party ranks and joined DFL lawmakers in voting "yes." It's estimated to impact more than 50,000 Minnesotans. An identical proposal is moving through the Senate, which should vote on it soon.

The issue is also before the Minnesota Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments in a case about the state's felon voting rules more than a year ago.

Making Juneteenth A State Holiday

After a lengthy debate on felon voting rights, the Minnesota House also passed a bill Thursday that aims to make Juneteenth, June 19, a state holiday. Juneteenth celebrates the end of slavery in the United States.

The bill received overwhelming bipartisan support with a vote of 126-1. Gov. Tim Walz is expected to sign the bill into law Friday. 

If it feels like things are moving fast at the state capitol -- it's true. Democrats, now with a trifecta, are passing bills out of committees and off the chamber floor more frequently and quickly than recent sessions.

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