Minnesota House passes 3 bills in 14-hour session

The three House passed bills would ban private prisons, look at how to use federal funds for energy projects and the so called "trans-refuge" bill.
Published: Mar. 24, 2023 at 8:49 AM CDT
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MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - Thursday and eventually Friday’s House floor session wasn’t a sprint, wasn’t a jog, wasn’t even a marathon. It was a full triathlon. The nearly 12-hour floor debate took on three DFL backed bills, and even with a DFL majority, republicans made their stance on each issue loud and clear.

The first issue the house took up was a ban on private prisons.

The bill prevents state corrections officers and local agencies from working with privately-owned prisons in the State of Minnesota.

Republicans raised concerns that the bill targets a smaller communities, taking away jobs and consequently, people from those rural areas.

DFLers responded by reinforcing the original intent of the bill was in the best interest of inmates in the state.

“They give it their all to make sure they get the treatment and the rehab and the programs that they need to be able to come out of our correctional facilities, go back into society, and be successful law abiding citizens. That’s who this bill is about madame speaker, that’s why we need to ban private prisons in MN”

That Bill passed with a vote of 70-61 after nearly 4 hours of debate on the floor.

From there, the house took on another bill which would again result in an hours long debate.

That bill creates a grant fund for the state to use federal money for new energy projects.

While the bill got more Republican votes than the previous bill, it still took 3 hours for it to pass.

Republicans that voted against it used the opportunity to rehash concerns over the state’s clean energy bill that was passed earlier in the session.

Still, that vote passed just after midnight with a less partisan vote of 83-47.

Shortly before the bill’s passage, though, the house dug in for a long night of conversations.

“All those in favor say aye... those opposed...”

The real heavy-hitter of the session came in the form of the “Trans Refuge Bill,” a piece of legislation that DFLers say would make the state a safe haven for transgender youth.

While the bill solely prevents out of state laws from interfering with gender-affirming care in the state, Republicans called out the medical procedures themselves.

Rep. Leigh Finke, the state’s first transgender elected official called the bill absolutely vital for the state’s transgender community.

“Right now our community really needs help. Gender-affirming care is healthcare. It is safe, evidence based, developmentally appropriate, and life-saving healthcare.”

That bill passed with a vote of 68-62

Republicans took up a huge majority of the floor time through the night and into this morning, while DFLers mainly took a back seat and answered any questions directed at them. All together, the floor debate was 12 hours long.

These bills now head to the Minnesota Senate for consideration.