Bills We’re Watching in 2024

By Erica Solomon Collins, Executive Director

Last Updated: February 22, 2024

 

Here’s a guide to the bills that we’re supporting this legislative session. We’ll keep this post updated as best we can, but history’s always on the move! For the most up-to-date news about specific bills, we recommend using the MN Legislature’s MyBills tool and keeping in touch with your district’s representatives (even if they are “on your side” of a given issue). If you need to double check who represents you in the state legislature, you can find them using this link.


HF173 & SF37: Minnesota State ERA Bill

Chief Authors: Representative Kaohly Vang Her and Senator Mary Kunesh

The Minnesota State Equal Rights Amendment would ensure equal rights under the law with no qualifiers. The proposed language would bar the state from discriminating “against any person in intent or effect on account of race, color, national origin, ancestry, disability, or sex, including but not limited to pregnancy, pregnancy outcomes and reproductive freedom, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation.”

Status of HF173 in the House

Status of SF37 in the Senate


HF1658 & SF1704: Minnesota Building Families Act

Chief Authors: Representative Jeff Brand and Senator Maye Quade 

The Minnesota Building Families Act would require insurers in our state to provide coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of infertility. Given the often-prohibitive costs of infertility treatment, this is a vital component to ensuring that all Minnesotans have the ability to choose whether and how to become parents.

Status of HF1658 in the House

Status of SF1704 in the Senate


HF601 & SF606: Lost and Stolen Firearms Reporting

Chief Authors: Representative Kaohly Vang Her and Senator Bonnie S. Westlin

This bill would require the prompt reporting of lost and stolen firearms to law enforcement.

Status of HF601 in the House

Status of SF606 in the Senate


Reproductive Justice

As a member of the UnRestrict MN coalition, we are committed to repealing unnecessary restrictions on abortion care, protecting patients and providers from post-Roe attacks, and ensuring equitable and affordable access to abortion and other essential reproductive care. While specific bill numbers have not yet been released, you can stay informed on our priorities for the 2024 legislative session here.

2024 Lobby Days

Updated January 30, 2024

By Sam Gault, Communications and Engagement Manager

Thank you to our special guests—Senator Bonnie S. Westlin and Representative Heather Edelson—as well as to our amazing advocacy leads and advocates for making NCJW’s 2024 advocacy kick-off event such a success! For those of you who couldn’t make it, there are plenty of opportunities coming up to join NCJW and our coalition partners at the Capitol once the Minnesota legislative session kicks off on Monday, February 12th. Here, in chronological order, are the lobby days that NCJW is partnering on (that we know about so far). Be sure to check back for updates!

#Day1forERA

It’s hard to believe that, in the 21st century, women’s equality under the law has yet to be codified. NCJW joins ERA Minnesota in calling for an Equal Rights Amendment to be added to the state Constitution through a comprehensive state ERA bill (SF37/HF173), which would be followed by a ballot measure in November.

The #Day1forERA rally will take place on Monday, February 12th. We will gather at 10:00 a.m. in the Capitol Rotunda for the rally, followed by legislator visits.

Register here.

RESOLVE’s Minnesota Advocacy Day

NCJW is also proud to stand with the Minnesota Building Families Coalition and the RESOLVE Advocacy Network in support of the Minnesota Building Families Act, which would mandate that insurers in our state provide coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of infertility.

RESOLVE’s Minnesota Advocacy Day is on Wednesday, February 14th, with doors opening at 8:00 a.m. and orientation beginning at 8:30 a.m.

Register here.

Reproductive Freedom Lobby Day

Following on the passage of the PRO Act and other bills last year to codify Minnesotans’ legal right to reproductive freedom, the UnRestrict coalition will be keeping up the pressure this session to ensure meaningful access to reproductive health, rights, and justice.

Join us at the Capitol on Thursday, March 7th for Reproductive Freedom Lobby Day!

Register here.

Gun Safety Advocacy Days

Protect Minnesota’s Lobby Day is coming up on Tuesday, March 5th. We’ll start with a legislator meeting and advocacy training at 1:00 p.m. in Capitol room G23, followed by a rally on the Capitol steps at 3:00 p.m.

Moms Demand Action will be pushing for bills mandating safe gun storage and gun theft reporting! Save the date for their lobby day on Tuesday, April 16th. Register here.

Stay tuned for more details coming soon about these and other gun violence prevention advocacy events.

Honoring the Memory of Those Who Died at Tree of Life

By Susie Kaufman, NCJW MN State Policy Advocacy Chair

October 31, 2023

Five years ago, at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, eleven of our Jewish brothers and sisters were murdered because of their religion. Hundreds more lives were changed forever as people lost mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, parents, and friends. And thousands of us were further traumatized by yet another attack on Jews in their house of worship, a place where we go for prayer, solace, reflection, and community. The shooter was armed with at least four guns, including an AR-15.

As anti-Semitism in the United States and across the globe has continued to grow over the past several years, and particularly in the last month, it has become even more incumbent upon us to be active members in the gun violence prevention movement. To that end, members of NCJW’s Gun Violence Prevention Committee have worked tirelessly over the past several years to advocate for concrete and effective gun safety legislation in Minnesota. And this past legislative session, they finally found success.

In May, the Minnesota legislature passed, and Governor Tim Walz signed into law, a bill to require background checks on all gun sales and an Extreme Risk Protection bill, which allows a judge to temporarily remove guns from the home of anyone deemed to be a risk to themselves or to others. These fundamental gun safety laws will make us safer as Jews, as Minnesotans, and as Americans.

We can also continue the hard work of advancing other critical gun safety legislation, including a federal assault weapons ban. These weapons of war have no place on our streets, and only serve to make us as Americans, and specifically as Jews, unsafe. We must honor those who died at the Tree of Life Synagogue with action, and we hope you will join us.

Abortion Resources

By Sam Gault, Communications and Engagement Manager

March 1, 2023

Thanks again to our wonderful presenter (who we are not naming here for privacy reasons), to Maddy Lerner for facilitating, and to all of you who showed up, asked questions, and helped make our first educational event of the year such a huge success! For those of you who were unable to attend abortion 101, our presenter has supplied a brief list of resources pertaining to abortion in the United States:

Podcasts:

  • SMA (self-managed abortion) is a storytelling podcast that was created in 2020, before Roe fell. It presents stories about how and why people opt to manage their own abortion.
  • Radiolab recently put out a two-part podcast about smuggling mifepristone and misoprostol to Ukraine. While it doesn’t really apply to what’s up in the United States, it provides a fascinating perspective on the state of reproductive freedom internationally.

Resources for people seeking abortions:

  • SASS (Self-Managed Abortion, Safe and Supported) is a U.S. project of Women Help Women, a global nonprofit organization that supports the rights of people around the world to have information about and access to safe abortion with pills. Information is power. We all deserve accurate information about our bodies and reproductive health.
  • Abortion Finder provides up to date state-by-state laws as well as funding and clinic information.
  • The Guttmacher Institute tracks and synthesizes state and national data on reproductive health and rights.

Family Planning info and resources:

  • Euki is a secure sexual health app and period tracker with links to lots of great resources. It does not track personal information or sell it to advertisers.
  • Bedsider is an excellent place to get up to date information on contraception, sexual health, and abortion.

An example of the experience of providers in restricted states:

This is by no means a comprehensive list of resources! If there is a question or topic that you wish had been addressed here, please email sam@ncjwmn.org for additional resources.

Menstrual Equity Developments

By Sam Gault, Communications and Engagement Manager

February 15, 2023

We’re so proud of our menstrual equity champions! NCJW Minnesota’s Periods Happen initiative has made great strides in recent months, both in terms of product distribution and legislative action.

While our tampon supply has been holding up, since we tend to get fewer requests for them, our supply of menstrual pads was dwindling. At the beginning of this month, we were down to our very last carton of Seventh Generation pads from the company’s 2020 donation. Thanks to the generosity of 80 donors, our “Give to the Max(i Pad)” campaign this past November was a huge success, and we raised enough money to order 100 cases of Kotex pads, for a grand total of 14,400 individual pads! The new order arrived just in the nick of time, as we received three requests for pads from three schools in the past week alone. Now all we had to do was transport 100 cases of pads to our storage unit for distribution…

A mighty team of volunteers (pictured above) stepped up to save the day, making quick work of transporting our order from the medical supply company to the warehouse, where they are ready to be distributed as we head into the final months of the school year. Thank you Abby, Lisa, Marilyn, Rollie, and Pam!

If you’d like to join the listserv of Periods Happen delivery volunteers, please send me an email and I’ll add you straightaway.

On the legislative side, we’re closer than ever to passing House File 44/Senate File 50 to bring menstrual equity to Minnesota schools! You can learn more about this bill, as well as other legislation we’re watching this session, from the regularly updated “Bills We’re Watching” post on this blog. Erica Solomon, our Executive Director, was also recently interviewed about NCJW Minnesota’s work on menstrual equity on Gender Justice’s podcast—give it a listen here.

If you would like to write a post for this blog—whether on an event, a social issue, or anything else NCJW-related—please don’t hesitate to send it my way!

Bills We’re Watching

By Erica Solomon, Executive Director

January 26, 2023 [Updated 3/8/2023]

Feel like there’s a lot of action going on at the Capitol this session? Us too! There has been so much great progress on issues of importance to NCJW in just these first few weeks of 2023. Here’s a guide to the legislation that we’re supporting and/or following. We’ll do our best to keep this post updated, but things happen fast! For the most up-to-date news about specific bills, we recommend using the MN Legislature’s MyBills tool and keeping in touch with your district’s representatives (even if they are “on your side” of an issue, it’s crucial that they hear words of support and gratitude from constituents). If you need to double check who represents you in the state legislature, you can find them using this link.

 

HF44/SF50: K-12 Menstrual Equity 

Chief authors: Representative Sandra Feist and Senator Steve Cwodzinski

The K-12 menstrual equity bill, which NCJW has partnered on with the chief authors and a team of student and community advocates, would require that period products be freely available in all 4th-12th grade student restrooms, and provide schools with the necessary funding. Access to period products is a matter of gender, health, and education equity, and it is far past time to ensure that no students in our state miss class because they lack access to or cannot afford the menstrual products they need.

Status as of 3/8: The Menstrual Equity Bill has completed its hearings in House and Senate Committees and is now awaiting a floor vote. We are so grateful for the advocacy of the legislators championing the bill as well as the students and school staff that have provided powerful testimony at its hearings.

 

HF2488/SF1215: Higher Ed Menstrual Equity 

Chief authors: Representative Sandra Feist and Senator Oumou Verbeten

The higher education menstrual equity bill would require that period products be made freely available to students of state-funded colleges and universities in Minnesota.

Status as of 3/8: HF2488/SF1215 had its first hearing with the Senate Higher Education Committee on March 2, and is currently awaiting its first hearing in the House.

 

HF91/SF70: Reproductive Freedom Codification Act

Chief authors: Representative Tina Liebling and Senator Erin Maye Quade

This bill, championed by the UnRestrict Minnesota Coalition, would repeal unnecessary and unconstitutional abortion restrictions in Minnesota. The restrictions in question—including a two-parent notification law for minors, a mandatory 24-hour delay period for patients seeking abortion care, a requirement that providers recite state-mandated anti-abortion propaganda to patients, and restrictions on qualified practitioners providing abortions—create dangerous ambiguities in our laws, impose unwarranted barriers to abortion access, and undermine the fundamental right to reproductive autonomy in our state. By repealing these unconstitutional restrictions, HF91/SF70 will ensure that anyone in Minnesota can access abortion care.

Status as of 2/2: HF91/SF70 had its first hearings in the House Health Finance and Policy Committee (Jan.12) and the House Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Committee (Jan. 24). On January 26, the House Public Safety Policy and Finance Committee approved the bill, sending it on to the House Ways and Means Committee, which re-referred it to the House Health Finance and Policy Committee for a hearing originally scheduled for Thursday, February 23rd (which has now been delayed due to weather). In the Senate, the bill has been heard by the Health and Human Services Committee and passed with amendments by the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee.

 

HF1/SF1: PRO Act

Chief authors: Representative Carlie Kotyza-Witthuhn and Senator Jennifer McEwen

The Protect Reproductive Options (PRO) Act would codify the fundamental right to abortion and protect reproductive rights, justice, and access to essential healthcare in Minnesota.

Status as of 3/8: Governor Walz signed the PRO Act into law on January 31, making Minnesota the first state to codify abortion rights after the fall of Roe v. Wade.

 

HF366/SF165: Reproductive Freedom Defense Act

Chief authors: Representative Tina Liebling and Senator Lindsey Port

The Reproductive Freedom Defense Act would cement Minnesota’s status as a safe harbor for people exercising their reproductive autonomy by protecting anyone in Minnesota seeking abortion care, as well as providers in the state, from prosecution under laws aimed at imposing other states’ abortion restrictions on us.

Status as of 2/21: The House version of this bill has been approved, with amendments, by the House State and Local Government Finance and Policy, Judiciary Finance and Civil Law, and Health Finance and Policy Committees, and will have its next hearing with the House Ways and Means Committee. The Senate version is still awaiting its first hearing with the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

 

HF289/SF366: Positive Pregnancies Support Act

Chief Authors: Representative Liz Olson and Senator Mary Kunesh

The Positive Pregnancies Support Act would shift state funding away from crisis pregnancy centers and toward agencies providing genuine help to pregnant people by banning states grants to agencies that encourage clients toward one pregnancy outcome over another, as well as by requiring state grant recipients to provide pregnant people with medically accurate information and services with regard to abortion and pregnancy.

Status as of 2/21: The House version of this bill will have its first hearing with the House Health Finance and Policy Committee and the Senate version has been referred to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

 

HF181/SF691: Bias and Discrimination Reporting and Response

Chief author: Representative Samantha Vang 

HF 181, which is supported by the Communities Combating Hate Coalition (led by Jewish Community Action), does not yet have a companion bill in the Senate. This bill would improve data gathering and reporting around bias and discrimination, and create a Bias Response and Community Equity Outreach Team to provide communities that experience acts of hate with culturally-specific support.

Status as of 1/24: This bill had its first hearing in the House Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee on January 17th, 2023.

 

HF25/SF524: Crime Reform

Chief author: Representative Cedrick Frazier and Senator Ron Latz 

The Crime Reform Bill, which has strong support from our coalition partners at Mothers Against Community Gun Violence,  would provide funding for an expansion of community-based crime prevention services, including victim services programs, juvenile diversion programs, and social service workers to accompany police responding to individuals who are experiencing mental health crises.

Status as of 2/8: HF25 was approved by the House Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee on January 19th, 2023, and will have its next hearing in the House Ways and Means Committee.

 

HF14/SF1116: Expanded Background Checks

Chief Author: Representative Dave Pinto

This House bill would require criminal background checks for all firearm transfers, and expand the grounds on which transferees can be disqualified from receiving a gun permit.

Status as of 2/8: HF24 had its first hearing with the House Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee on February 3rd. It is scheduled for its next hearing with the House Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Committee on February 9th.

 

HF15/SF1117: Red Flag Law

Chief Author: Representative Cedrick Frazier

The “red flag” or “extreme risk protection order” (ERPO) bill would enable family members or law enforcement to petition the courts to prevent people who pose a significant danger to themselves or others from possessing firearms.

Status as of 2/8: HF15 had its first hearing with the House Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee on February 3rd. It is scheduled for its next hearing with the House Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Committee on February 9th.

 

HF396/SF916: Safe Firearm Storage

Chief Author: Representative Jamie Becker-Finn

This bill would mandate the safe storage of all firearms and ammunition, and would impose criminal penalties for violations.

Status as of 2/8: HF396 had its first hearing with the House Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee on February 3rd.

 

SF353: Capitol Complex Safety

Chief Author: Senator John Marty

This Senate bill would prohibit the possession of dangerous weapons in the state Capitol Complex.

Status as of 1/26: SF353 has been referred to the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee, with its hearing date to be determined.

 

HF601/SF606: Lost or Stolen Firearms Reporting

Chief Author: Senator Bonnie S. Westlin

This bill would require the prompt reporting of lost or stolen firearms.

Status as of 2/8: SF606 has been referred to the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee, with its hearing date to be determined. It had its first hearing with the House Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee on February 3rd.

Menstrual Equity Bill Makes Progress

Representative Sandra Feist presents HF44 to the House Education Policy Committee

by Erica Solomon, Executive Director 

January 13, 2023

Periods Happen–which started when one school’s request for menstrual hygiene products sparked an NCJW program that has distributed 200,000 pads and tampons to the community–is close to counting a legislative achievement among its impacts.

After faltering at the last moment in 2022, chief authors Representative Sandra Feist (39B) and Senator Steve Cwodzinski (49) introduced the Menstrual Equity Bill in the first week of the 2023 session as HF44/SF50. NCJW has been working alongside Rep. Feist, Sen. Cwodzinski, and a team of community advocates (many of them high school students led by Hopkins High Junior, Elif Ozturk) to bring menstrual equity to Minnesota schools by providing funding for period products for all 4th-12th grade student restrooms. Learn more about the bill, the research behind it, and how it would help Minnesota students thrive, in this Star Tribune Opinion piece from January 11, 2023.

Where we are

This past Wednesday, January 11, the bill had its first committee hearing with House Education Policy. A great slate of student and school nurse testifiers did a fantastic job advocating for the bill’s necessity and impact. Rep. Urdahl (16A) introduced an amendment to prevent the bill from including “boys” gendered restrooms (currently, it states that products must be provided in at least one of these in each school). NCJW opposes this amendment because the inclusion of trans or nonbinary students that have no choice but to use gendered restrooms at school is crucial to fulfill the bill’s goal of creating equity for all students that menstruate. Additionally, exposing even male identifying students that don’t menstruate themselves to these products helps eliminate stigma and normalize periods–an important goal of the legislation. Thankfully, the amendment did not prevail, and the committee approved the referral of the bill in its original form to the House Education Finance committee. This is a big win as it brings us one step closer to a floor vote and eventual signing into law!

Students Evelyn Gore and Tori Robarge testify for the House Education Policy Committee

What’s next? 

The House Education Finance Committee will hear the bill on Wednesday, January 18 at 10:30 a.m. Later that same day, at 12:30 p.m., the Senate House Policy Committee will hear their version of the bill. Another strong group of testifiers is lined up for the day’s hearings. We welcome you to attend the hearings, which will be held Capitol 120 (House committee) and Senate Office Building Room 1200 (Senate committee). You can also livestream them on the House website and Senate YouTube channel as your schedule allows. We look forward to sharing outcome of the hearings, and hopefully being scheduled in the Senate Education Finance Committee soon afterwards.

How you can help

Contact your representatives in support of the bill! Here’s a template you can use, but it is super barebones and we encourage you to add a personal touch! You can also utilize/share this one-pager/policy brief and these social media graphics. To read the full text of each version of the bill and follow its progress, search HF44 or SF50 on the MN Legislature website. 

If you are connected with any school staff and/or 4th-12th grade students that would be interested in submitting a written statement of support, or possibly testifying at an upcoming hearing, please get in touch with Erica Solomon at Erica@ncjwmn.org.

Let’s make 2023 the year that we #EndPeriodPovertyMN!

Advocates with Rep. Feist at the House Ed Policy Hearing (L-R: Dr. Thomas Stinson, Tori Robarge, Evelyn Gore, Carolyn Handke, Erica Solomon, Kathleen Mahli, Elif Ozturk, Kari D’Averill