Minnesota DFL House passes historic abortion protections 69-65

By Rochelle Olson

Settle in because I missed my Hot Dish writing day last week due to an overheated computer so I've got a backlog to share this Friday morning. 'Twas another busy early session week at the Capitol that included a daylong visit from President Joe Biden's Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra. The secretary came the same day the Minnesota House passed House File 1, a bill enshrining abortion protections in law. Becerra urged Minnesotans to "keep pushing forward" and said, "We are your partners in the fight." He also heard from providers stressed by a surge in patients seeking care from other states. Gov. Tim Walz knows Becerra from their days together in the U.S. House where the latter represented the Los Angeles area.

About 7:30 p.m. Thursday, the abortion bill passed 69-65 after more than four hours of debate that included deeply personal stories of loss and survival. Republicans repeatedly called the bill "extreme" and lacking in "guardrails" and said it would allow abortion "right up until the moment of birth." The vote was along party lines with one exception: Rep. Gene Pelowski, DFL-Winona, voted no. Senate Majority Leader Kari Dziedzic, DFL-Minneapolis, said her caucus is a "pro-choice majority" and she expects the bill to pass the Senate soon.

MCCL MARCH: On Sunday, Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life holds its annual March at the state Capitol. The event comes on the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the decision legalizing abortion that was overturned last summer by the Supreme Court. The march commemorates the lives lost to abortion, including 700,000 in Minnesota. We'll have coverage. The event starts at 2 p.m.

ECO DEVO: Gov. Walz also laid out another piece of his budget, this one focused on economic development with a heavy emphasis on the workforce. The biggest piece of the plan is a nearly $669 million paid family and medical leave program, Jessie Van Berkel reports. "Happy employees tend to be loyal employees. Happy employees tend to stick around," Walz said of the program. After an initial infusion of cash, Walz and legislators plan to have employers and employees fund the program through a payroll deduction. He's got more budget plans coming next week.

SCOTUS LEAK: The U.S. Supreme Court completed its investigation into the leak of the draft opinion in Dobbs, the decision that overturned Roe, and came up with no suspect. Investigators conducted 126 formal interviews of 97 employees. They looked into connections between employees and reporters, including those at Politico. They looked at call logs of personal phones. They looked at printer logs. They even did a fingerprint analysis. But the AP story says it wasn't clear from the report whether the nine justices were interviewed as part of the probe. And that's a big "Hmmmm" from me.

COMMISSIONER CONFIRMATION: The state Senate Committee on Environment, Climate and Legacy endorsed the confirmation of DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen. Her appointment now heads to the Senate floor for a vote. She's the agency's first female commissioner. Her bucket list plans for 2023 include fishing sturgeon on the St. Croix.

RICHFIELD MONEY: To celebrate $3 million in funding, U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar hosts a press conference at Wood Lake Nature Center at noon. The funding will go toward making the building ADA-accessible and energy efficient. The project was in the 2023 appropriations government funding package.


8:00 AM: Hosting breakfast for legislative leaders from the Minnesota House and Senate.

9:50 AM: Annual Department of Natural Resources Roundtable event.

2:15 PM: Meeting with U.S. Rep. Omar.


  • Eggs are expensive right now and bakeries and diners are feeling it more than most. Strib biz reporter Brooks Johnson has the report.
  • The suspect in the shooting of a 16-year-old at St. Paul's Jimmy Lee Recreation Center is a long-time employee, Kyeland Jackson reports. The center just off I-94 at Lexington Avenue has basketball courts, a popular lap pool and indoor waterpark. "If everybody has a gun then every conflict has a potential of turning into a gunfight, and that creates challenges not just for St. Paul, but around the country," Mayor Melvin Carter said.
  • Prince Harry's book "Spare" sold 3.2 million copies in one week and will likely rank as one of the top-selling memoir's of all time. Half those sales came in the U.S.
  • COVID-19 trends remain flat in Minnesota despite new variants taking hold in a population that has fallen behind on vaccine recommendations, the indefatigable Jeremy Olson reports.
  • This fascinating NYT story might help you get through the Vikings' off-season. I shared it widely with friends last week because I loved the insight on Justin Jefferson's routes.

Points of personal privilege. I met the delightful Senate page Claire DeMay, the daughter of Channing Riggs and Jim DeMay. Claire's parents were the subject of a story in 2004 (gulp!) by yours truly and (retired now!) Kevin Diaz. The lede: "While her husband is off running the Kerry campaign in Ohio — arguably the most critical state in the presidential election — Channing Riggs put on a green shirt at this week's Republican National Convention in New York City and directed hallway traffic around Gate 65 at Madison Square Garden."

With Maryland Gov. Wes Moore sworn in this week, I've thought about his 2010 book: "The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates." The author/governor tried to figure out what made the difference, why he became a Rhodes Scholar and the other Wes Moore went to prison. The answer to that question is unforgettable.

Keep us posted at hotdish@startribune.com.

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