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Legislative Update: The 2020 Legislative Session is Underway

Friday, February 21, 2020

Rep. Nelson


The 2020 legislative session is underway, and things are moving quickly for what is typically the shorter session of the biennium. As last year’s session focused on crafting a state budget, this year’s work will center on infrastructure and community projects, new policy issues, and revisiting unfinished work from 2019. As chair of the House State Government and Finance Division, I’ve already had some important bills come through committee.

Here’s an update on some of our recent work.


Affordable Insulin

Earlier this week, my committee heard testimony on the fast-tracked Alec Smith Affordable Insulin Act, which has already been heard in several other committees since session began. The reason for the urgency on this bill is because it provides a solution Minnesotans desperately need now, as diabetics in our state have already died from attempting to ration their expensive medication. Last year, the Minnesota House passed a version of this bill, but in the final hours of negotiations the Minnesota Senate rejected it. A special session seemed possible during the interim, but an agreement was never reached.


Shari Wiltrout displaying the cost of insulin for her family

In committee, we heard from advocates who were fighting for affordable insulin for their children, themselves, or in memory of a loved one. It’s incredibly important that this legislation is passed soon, and I hope my colleagues in the Senate come to the table in an open and transparent manner so that we can finally take this important step in insulin affordability.

You can read more about the Alec Smith Affordable Insulin Act here.


Protecting Your Voter Data

Minnesota’s presidential primary is on March 3, but early absentee voting is already taking place. This is our state’s first presidential primary since 1992, having recently been a caucus state. Due to difficulties around 2016’s presidential caucus, the Minnesota Legislature passed a law returning to the primary system. The change was made in response to what Minnesotans asked for, and it’s in that same spirit that I’m co-authoring legislation to protect voter data in the presidential primary.

As part of the primary process, voters will have to select a party ballot in order to participate, and my colleagues and I have heard from Minnesotans all over the state who aren’t comfortable with that information being shared. Minnesota has a history of not requiring voters to declare a political party, and while who you vote for will always remain a secret, current law allows your party ballot selection to be shared with the major political parties. The bill I’m supporting would not only restrict the major parties on what they can do with that information, it would allow voters the chance to opt-out of sharing their ballot selection.

This is a bipartisan bill with the support of the Minnesota Secretary of State, and you can read more about this issue here.


Help America Vote Act (HAVA) Funds

Last session saw a needlessly drawn-out battle over accessing federal dollars to protect our elections, also known as HAVA funds. It’s incredibly important that Minnesota holds safe and secure elections, and preparing for that takes time. While I’m grateful a compromise was reached last year that allowed Minnesota’s Secretary of State to make use of these funds, more HAVA dollars have become available, and we can’t afford a repeat of last year if we expect these resources to be utilized in a timely manner.

This week, I authored a bill that would make over $7 million in HAVA dollars available this year. The 2020 election is incredibly important, not just because of the presidential race but because of all the other offices on the ballot this year. Minnesota has long had secure elections, but we need to prepare for the worst in order to protect the integrity of the process and the results.


Stay Connected

Our work at the Minnesota House is at its best when it’s open and responsive. Please feel free to reach out with any questions or comments you have on the legislative process. I’m best reached at (651) 296-3751 or I appreciate your input.




Rep. Michael V. Nelson