Watch CBS News

2023 Minnesota legislative session ends. See what bills passed

Minnesota Session 2023 recap: Here are the bills that passed
Minnesota Session 2023 recap: Here are the bills that passed 02:23

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Minnesota Legislature wrapped up all of its work in the 2023 session on Monday. Here's some of what the bills lawmakers passed this year: 


In late January, Walz signed the "Protect Reproductive Options Act," a bill that establishes a "fundamental right" to abortion access and reproductive care in the state in a post-Roe v. Wade landscape.

While a 1995 Minnesota Supreme Court decision protections abortion rights, Democrats framed the PRO Act as a second line of defense to ensure access at a time when other states are restricting the procedure. 

The bill also covers contraception, sterilization, preconception care, maternity care, family planning and fertility services.


In March, Walz put his signature on the universal school meals bill, providing free breakfast and lunch to all K-12 students, regardless of their parents' income.

Schools must enroll in the federal program for free and reduced-priced meals to be eligible. The state would pick up the tab for the cost of covering everyone else who doesn't qualify for the federal program, which is estimated to be $388 million in the next two-year budget. It increases after that.

The program could be operational by summer school in July.


Gov. Tim Walz signed the bill setting new energy benchmarks for Minnesota in February, an effort to curb climate change's impacts. By 2040, utilities must offer customers 100% carbon-free electricity.

Right now, renewable energy -- like wind, solar, and hydropower -- is the largest share of the state's power supply at 29%, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. More than half of the state's energy is already carbon-free with renewables and nuclear energy combined.

Minnesota's biggest utility, Xcel Energy, said the legislation fits with its own energy goals, even though company officials are still figuring out how they will meet the new standard in the next two decades.

There is an avenue for utilities to request a "delay" in implementing the standard, framed as an "off-ramp" if meeting the clean energy standard is too expensive for ratepayers or the energy source is unreliable.


Low- and middle-income Minnesotans will be getting some money back in the form of a one-time rebate. The Department of Revenue estimates 2.5 million households will be impacted.

The $3 billion tax bill includes $260 rebates for singles making less than $75,000 per year, $520 for married couples filing jointly making less than $150,000. There's also $260 per dependent up to three, so the max rebate for Minnesotans who qualify is $1,300.

Expect that money to start going back to taxpayers this fall, a spokesman for the Revenue Department said.

Gov. Tim Walz first floated the idea of the rebates, dubbed "Walz checks," last year.

DFL lawmakers ultimately agreed to checks smaller than Walz's pitch for $1,000 per single filer and $2,000 per married couple.


A transportation funding package approved the day before session adjourned means Minnesotans will pay more at the pump in future years.

RELATED: Gov. Tim Walz talks rebate checks, legislature's other tax moves ahead of end of session

It includes provisions to raise the gas first time and index to the rate of inflation, capped at 3%. Nonpartisan legislative staff said that will amount to a 5-cent increase over the current rate of 28.5 cents a gallon by 2027.

The last time the legislature passed a bill to raise the gas tax, which is constitutionally required to fund roads and bridges. Supporters say current revenues are not keeping pace to meet the needs of transportation infrastructure in disrepair. 

That same budget agreement also includes a 50-cent delivery fee that consumers will have to pay on most orders over $100 as an additional stream of money. 

RELATED: Tax bill with $3B in cuts on way to Gov. Walz; Separate bill will raise gas tax and impose new fee on deliveries

There are exemptions on the fee, like groceries, food deliveries from restaurants, pharmaceutical drugs and baby products. Clothing, though exempt from general sales taxes, would be subject to the delivery fee. 


DFL lawmakers approved a state-run paid family and medical leave program that will allow workers to take up to 12 weeks of paid time for a serious medical condition, and up to 12 weeks to take care of family members, including bonding with a newborn. 

The benefits are capped at 20 weeks in a single year and workers won't get paid their full wages.

Benefits will start in 2026 and that's when a payroll tax increase to fund the program will kick in, too. That tax hike on businesses and their employees is the most contentious part of the bill. 

Almost 75% of Minnesota's workforce does not have access to paid leave benefits today, according to an estimate from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.


In late April, Walz signed three progressive bills into law on Thursday designed to make Minnesota a safe haven for LGBTQ people and others who come from other states where abortion is banned to seek the procedure in Minnesota. 

Two of the bills are "shield" laws designed to protect patients and providers from legal actions in other states where abortion and transgender medical care for minors are banned or restricted. 

RELATED: "It's a good day for freedoms": Walz signs bills on reproductive freedom and trans refuge, ban on conversion therapy

While those two bills passed on party-line votes, more than a dozen Republicans joined Democrats in supporting a ban on the discredited practice of conversion therapy for LGBTQ people, which seeks to change their sexual orientation.


Major gun regulations were into law after a public safety package passed through the Minnesota Legislature earlier this month.

The provisions create a "red flag" law, allowing family members, spouses, roommates, or law enforcement to petition a court to suspend someone's access to guns if they are determined to be a danger to themselves or someone else. These extreme risk protection orders will go into effect next year.

But starting this summer, background checks will extend to private gun sales and transfers, not just purchases at federally licensed firearms dealers, plugging what gun safety advocates call a loophole. 

Meanwhile, Second Amendment rights supporters say both measures infringe on the rights of law-abiding gun owners.


Minnesota residents will be able to obtain a driver's license no matter their immigration status under legislation signed this session. 

The effort, dubbed "driver's licenses for all," is 20 years in the making for supporters of the policy, who say it will improve public safety and allow people without legal status to continue contributing to the state's economy.

The Migration Policy Institute estimates there are 81,000 undocumented immigrants living in Minnesota,

Minnesota isn't the first to implement a law like this: 18 states and Washington D.C. have authorized driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.


Marijuana for recreational use will be legal as early as August 1, allowing for possession of up to 2 pounds of marijuana in your home.

What will take more time is setting up the business rules and regulations. The bill establishes a new Office of Cannabis Management tasked with oversight of a new legal marketplace that will allow licensed businesses to cultivate, manufacture and sell marijuana at retail dispensaries.

RELATED: Minnesota will soon legalize recreational marijuana: Here's what the new law will do

The sweeping 300-page bill will also automatically expunge low-level cannabis convictions and set up a board to consider expungement or resentencing of felony crimes. 

Minnesota will join 22 states, plus Washington D.C., that have legalized weed.


Earlier this month, Walz signed the "Democracy for the People Act" into law, an elections bill aimed at expanding voter access to the polls. It includes long-sought-after provisions from voting rights advocates.

The legislation implements automatic voter registration, allows 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote, and creates a permanent absentee voter list that will automatically send people who sign up a ballot each election.

The proposal also requires voting materials and sample ballots to be in languages other than English and prohibits voter intimidation at the polls, among other provisions.

Another change in a separate law will allow people with felony convictions to vote again upon release from prison. They were previously barred from the ballot box until they discharged their sentence, including probation or parole.  


Starting next school year, thousands of Minnesota students who qualify can attend the state's public colleges and universities for free under a new program.

Families making under $80,000 a year would be eligible for the "North Star Promise" scholarships, which will cover tuition and fees for residents who attend two- or four-year programs in the University of Minnesota or Minnesota State system or in-state tribal colleges.

The Minnesota Office of Higher Education estimates it will impact 15,000-20,000 students currently enrolled.

The amount of the scholarship would be determined after other grants, scholarships and financial aid are deducted from the student's total costs to attend the school. Private school tuition is not covered. 


Both chambers of the state legislature last week approved a ban on so-called "forever chemicals" PFAS in consumer products.

The legislation prohibits non-essential use of the substances in cookware, cosmetics, cleaning products and more starting in 2025. The bill also includes funding to help clean up water contaminated with the chemicals, and will phase out PFAS in firefighting foam.


A large K-12 education funding package that includes a $2.2 billion boost for schools includes indexing per pupil formula funding to the rate of inflation in future years, capped at 3%. There's additional money to help with costs of special education programs, recruit more teachers of color and hire more school psychologists. 

Additional funding will support stocking schools with menstrual products free of charge to students, and keeping a supply of the opioid antagonist naloxone, as the epidemic fueled by illicit fentanyl intensifies. 

Personal finance, Holocaust and genocide education, and ethnic studies will be incorporated into school curriculum. And there are new benchmarks and requirements to boost literacy, after test scores plummeted during the pandemic.


Inside the labor and economic development budget bill, Democrats included a provision requiring businesses to offer their employees "earned safe and sick time."

Workers would be eligible to accrue a minimum of one hour for every 30 hours worked, for a maximum of 48 hours per year. 

They could use that time for medical appointments, short-term illness like a cold or flu or caring for a child who may be out of school sick.

This is different than the state paid family and medical leave program, which will be funded by a payroll tax and would cover more long-term absences.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.