Abortion, Appleton prison, MNsure all part of House's latest big bill


Late into the night, and after 12 hours of discussion, the Minnesota House passed a large bill that touches on MNsure, private prisons, state spending and more.

The omnibus bill (meaning it's a collection of a bunch of smaller proposals, and very long) was approved 72-57.

It'll now go to the DFL-controlled Senate, which is unlikely to give the thumbs up to an identical bill, as the House is controlled by Republicans. (Note: The House and Senate have to pass the exact same bill before it can head to the governor for a signature, which then makes it law.)

It was the third large omnibus bill passed by the House this week – an agriculture, environment and jobs bill as approved Wednesday, and an education bill passed Monday.

Session Daily runs through Friday morning's bill in detail, but here's a quick rundown of what's included:

MNsure repealed

MNsure would be fully repealed, and the money shifted to the broader health and human services spending. Minnesota would then use the federal health care exchange.

The use of Appleton prison ... maybe

The bill tells the Department of Corrections to work on securing a lease for, or buying and operating, the prison in Appleton, as a way to ease crowding (as the state is about 560 inmates over capacity, and leasing beds). A few lawmakers, all Democrats, tried at add amendments that would ban or deter the state from working with private prisons. But all were rejected.

However, some new drug sentencing guidelines expected to be announced Friday may solve the overcrowding issue.

Regulations for clinics that perform abortions

New abortion regulations, including licensing requirements for facilities that perform more than 10 abortions each year, the removal of some Title X funds for health clinics that perform abortions (the money, about $10 million, would go to clinics that help minority and low-income women), and the requirement that state sponsored health programs don't be used for abortion services.

No police body cam regulations

An amendment that would have outlined regulations for how to handle police body camera footage was not added to the omnibus bill.

How much money the state should spend

There are a host of government spending suggestions, including:

  • Salary reductions of 5 percent for commissioners, deputy commissioners, and assistant commissioners, a 10 percent reduction in travel expenses, and a hiring freeze – resulting in $6.25 imllion less in spending.
  • Nixing that "Donate $5 to help state candidates run for office" option on your tax returns – it would bring in $2.67 million.
  • An additional $1.8 million for security improvements at National Guard facilities.
  • $500,000 to look at cyber security across the state.

Then there's a Senate bill

The Senate meanwhile is controlled by the DFL, and Thursday passed its own version of a spending bill.

The supplemental budget bill, totaling $498 million, was approved on a 39-24 vote, the state Senate website says.

Included, according to the Senate DFL:

MNsure gets money

MNsure would be treated the opposite here, actually getting money to "enact needed changes to the system" as part of a $43.3 million health and human services bill.

Business grants, community programs for disparities

$91 million would go to address racial disparities, using business grants, workforce development programs, and "youth and community resilience programs."

Rural broadband

Rural broadband (a frequent topic this session) would get $85 million to try to improve access across the state.

Boost in education spending

The DFL's bill would add $100.5 million to E-12 education spending, on top of what's currently being spent. Then there's another $47.5 million for higher education institutions, including grants for MnSCU schools and an undergraduate tuition decrease at the University of Minnesota.

More spending

In addition:

  • $31.5 million would be spent on transportation and public safety, including rail safety.
  • $45 million would go toward offender treatment and support, as well as mental illness.
  • $30 million would help expand programs for veterans, and provide cyber security funding.
  • $7.5 million for the environment and energy, including cleanup of portions of the St. Louis River, and help for Minnesota River basin goals.
  • And $60 million in agriculture such as farm safety, industrial hemp programs – as well as parks and trails and outdoors programs.

Next Up

Liam Robbins

Gophers stay perfect at home by crushing 7th-ranked Michigan

Liam Robbins and Marcus Carr were too much for the previously undefeated Wolverines.

police lights

Four teens arrested over robberies in Minneapolis

They teens were found in a vehicle that was taken during an earlier carjacking.

Boundary Waters/BWCA

All BWCA visitors will now have to watch three 'Leave No Trace' videos

Visitors left an "unacceptably high amount" of damage last year.


Ten fatal overdoses in past 6 weeks reported in region of northern MN

Law enforcement agencies have issued a plea to the general public.

u.s. district court minnesota - federal court minneapolis

Bracing for security threats, federal courthouses closing in Minnesota

Security is also being ramped up at the state capitol.

N95 mask

3M sues Florida company that sold 10K counterfeit N95 masks to HCMC

The Maplewood company has obtained a temporary injunction against the firm.

vaccine, covid

Walz, Whitmer, and Evers call on Trump Admin. to buy more vaccines

It comes after The Washington Post reported that the country's COVID vaccine reserves have been exhausted.

Karl-Anthony Towns

Wolves-Grizzlies game off, KAT tests postive for COVID

The Timberwolves star was among several players that are dealing with COVID-related issues.

minnesota state fair

Planning for the 2021 Minnesota State Fair is underway

The fair suffered huge financial losses due to COVID-19, but organizers are moving forward with planning "different scenarios" for this summer.


Abortion bills advance at Capitol

The House and Senate passed separate bills that would place new restrictions on abortion providers. One bill would require a doctor to be present when a patient takes the abortion medication, RU-486. The other would require abortion providers to have licenses and be subject to random inspections.

Minnesota House committee approves legislation to license abortion clinics

Supporters of the bill say inspections are also necessary after dangerous conditions were found at a Pennsylvania clinic. Opponents criticize the legislation when other outpatient medical clinics are not regulated. A similar bill is progressing in the Senate.