Here’s what can be done when Democrats are elected to run everything: all the good stuff—abortion rights, voting rights, gun safety, environmental protection, education funding and more. That’s what happened in the just-concluded legislative session in Minnesota, where the governor is a Democrat and the state House and Senate are controlled by Democrats, as well. The session has been celebrated by those Democrats as “transformational,” “historic,” and “game-changing”—and that’s putting it modestly.
State House Majority Leader Jamie Long of Minneapolis explained how House and Senate leaders set out their top 30 goals at the beginning of the session. “And as of the end of the day,” he said, “we are going to pass the entirety of our top priorities with the House and Senate.”
“When we came in in January, we didn’t say we would be able to do everything,” House Speaker Melissa Hortman added. “We knew what we wanted to work on, but we didn’t make promises that we wouldn’t be able to keep. So, I’m just thrilled that we were able to check off everything.”
Gov. Tim Walz documented that astounding result in a tweet:
There are so many wins on that board that he couldn’t explain everything in detail, but the Minnesota House of Representatives Democratic-Farmer-Labor Majority Caucus took care of that in the best tweet thread you will read all day.
The Democratic majority kicked off the session in January with legislation codifying abortion rights. “To Minnesotans, know that your access to reproductive health, and your right to make your own health care decisions, are preserved and protected,” Walz said when he signed the bill. “And because of this law, that won’t change with the political winds and the makeup of the Supreme Court.” Following that, they passed legislation protecting patients traveling from states with abortion bans, and finally repealed outdated restrictions that remained on the books. A judge had stricken down the restrictions last July. The final repeal passed with the $3.5 billion health and human services budget.
The legislature passed (and Walz signed) three bills protecting and expanding voting rights and protecting the integrity of the state’s elections. Everything from restoration of voting rights for former felons to automatic voter registration to protecting voters and election officials from intimidation and interference is now law.
Minnesota Democrats cut income taxes for moderate- and low-income Social Security recipients, expanded a state child tax credit for low-income families, provided a $1,500-per child K-12 education credit, and used some of the state’s surplus to return $1.1 billion to more than 2.5 million Minnesotas in one-time direct payments. That comes with tax increases on corporations that have overseas profits and fewer deductions for high-income earners.
They paid for school meals for almost all children and increased funding for emergency housing assistance as well as emergency food assistance. They established the state as a refuge for trans people seeking gender-affirming care and banned so-called conversion therapy for minors.
Democrats enacted new gun safety laws, with ‘red flag’ protections to keep guns away from people who are in crisis and authorities deem a threat to themselves and others, and expanded background checks to private gun sales.
Oh, and Minnesota became the 23rd state to legalize recreational marijuana use for adults. As of Aug. 1, adults will be able to legally use, possess, and grow weed at home—2 pounds of it are legal in a person’s home, and 2 ounces out in public. There’s provision for dispensaries as well in the coming years. Importantly, the state is going to expunge the records of Minnesotans convicted of misdemeanor or petty misdemeanor possession of pot.
That’s just a fraction of the amazing list of achievements by Minnesota Democrats. Judging by the crowd that turned out to celebrate Walz’s signing of the last piece—the budget bills—it’s pretty popular, too.
That bill signing, by the way, included signing on to the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, the multistate compact in which states commit to awarding all of the Electoral College votes to the national popular vote winner in presidential elections. Minnesota’s embrace of the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact should reignite momentum around the campaign.
To cap it all off, enjoy the tears shed by GOP Senate Minority Leader Mark Johnson: “Republicans represent nearly 50% of the state but at the end of the day this has been the most partisan session, not only in my memory, but in the history of the state.”
We speak with Anderson Clayton, the 25-year-old chair of North Carolina’s Democratic Party. Clayton has a big-picture plan for 2024, and explains the granular changes needed to get out the vote on college campuses and in the rural communities of the Tar Heel State.