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Legislative Update - May 31, 2023

Legislative Update - May 31, 2023

Legislative Update - May 31, 2023

Paid Family and Medical Leave signed into law
The Minnesota legislature passed the paid family and medical leave legislation in early May and Gov. Tim Walz signed it into law on May 25.

"Paid family and medical leave is about investing in the people that made our state and economy strong in the first place," said Walz. "By signing paid family and medical leave into law, we're ensuring Minnesotans no longer have to make the choice between a paycheck and taking time off to care for a new baby or a sick family member. For the sustainability and health of our workforce and the future of our economy, I'm proud to sign this into law."

The House passed their paid family and medical leave bill on May 2 by a 68-64 vote, while the Senate passed their version of the bill on Tuesday, May 9 at a vote of 34-33. It was then resent to a conference committee to work out the differences between the two bills, who met on May 12 and 13. Read the final conference committee report for HF 2. The conference committee reconciled differences between the two versions, both House and Senate then re-passed it, and it was sent to Gov. Walz for signature.

A major issue between the House version of the law and the Senate version of the law was the number of weeks of paid leave for employees. The conference committee finally agreed to up to 20 weeks of leave for the combined benefits, for a maximum of 12 weeks of either benefit (8 weeks for the remaining benefit, or some other combination not to exceed 12 weeks for benefit or 20 weeks total).

The law sets aside $668.3 million to set up the program, before money is collected via a payroll tax on employees and employers, similar to Social Security benefits. The money also establishes a new Family and Medical Benefits Insurance Division within the Department of Employment and Economic Development to oversee the program. 

Starting January 1, 2026, employees unable to work due to a serious health condition, safety leave, pregnancy, pregnancy recovery, or to care for a newborn or a family member’s serious health condition will be eligible for the benefit. Employers will be required to submit quarterly wage-detail report and pay a yearly premium on employee taxable wages, paid quarterly into the family and medical insurance account based on the wage detail report. Employers may opt out of paying into the state plan if they create their own private plan that is approved by DEED and provides the same rights, protections, and benefits.

Governor Signs Marijuana Legalization into Law
On May 30 Governor Tim Walz signed the bill legalizing marijuana in Minnesota, making it the 23rd state in the U.S. to end cannabis prohibition. The law allows adults 21 and older to purchase and possess in public up to two ounces of cannabis and be allowed to cultivate up to eight plants at home, four of which could be mature, as well as expunge certain low-level cannabis convictions. Legalization will go into effect August 1, 2023, with regulators expected to take 12-18 months to get a licensed commercial sales system launched. 

After months of committee hearings, a bill to legalize marijuana passed both the House and the Senate in late April. The bill first passed the House on April 25 with a vote of 71-59. On April 28, the Senate passed the bill with a party line vote of 34-33. The two versions of the bill had several differences that were worked out by a conference committee before it made its way to Gov. Walz’s desk for signature. 

"This has been a long journey with a lot of folks involved," Walz said. "What we know right now is prohibition does not work. We've criminalized a lot of folks who are going to start expungement process on those records."

Minnesota has already taken the step of launching a website for the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM), which provides basic information about the bill’s provisions for adult consumers and medical cannabis patients, as well as resources for prospective marijuana business licensees and people who may be eligible for expungements.

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