What went right at the legislature

The 2024 legislative session crashed to a conclusion late Sunday night amid scenes of chaos as the DFL rammed through a 2,800 page Omnibus Bill that nobody had read and blocked any debate on it. For a state that was once known for its “unnaturally clean” politics, this latest fiasco is another signal that things are not what they once were in Minnesota.

These shenanigans are even more bizarre when you consider that this session was supposed to see the legislature on its best behavior ahead of November’s elections. After last year’s orgy of tax and spending hikes, this year was supposed to be all about sober responsibility.

Because of this, few major things got done, which is probably a good thing. The payroll tax required to fund the ever more expensive Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) program got hiked and minimum pay rates were imposed on rideshare companies, which will hike the cost of getting around. But there was some good news, too, if you looked.

No sales tax hike for housing

An early proposal from the DFL was to hike Minnesota’s sales tax — giving us the joint highest in America — with the revenue dedicated to housing programs. And that, as I wrote in February, “is before we get into the various local sales taxes which are being hiked. This state is, as someone said to me last week, ‘One Expensive Minnesota.'”

I’ve written before that:

It is true that Minnesota, and the Twin Cities especially, have relatively expensive housing. That is because, by imposing excessive taxes, fees, and regulations, state and local government effectively makes affordable housing impossible to build. The solution is to lighten the burden of these taxes, fees, and regulations.

But the DFL never sees any problem that cannot be solved by throwing ever increasing amounts of your money at it.

This bill was just one illustration of that this session. Fortunately, it went nowhere.

No new internet tax

The DFL had proposed to allow Minnesota’s cities to enact fees on broadband providers. Ostensibly, this was to fund the infrastructure which would enable the broadband expansion which is generally seen as desirable.

But, as I wrote in April:

If this passes and cities decide to impose these hikes, internet and broadband providers will be faced with a choice: Either to eat the fee, pass it on to their customers, or simply avoid that city. Of those three, the latter two are the most likely.

Supporters of expanded broadband access in Minnesota should hope that HF 4182 fails.

It did.

No corporate tax “transparency”

How can this be a win? Isn’t “transparency” a good thing? That depends what you mean.

The DFL had pushed a bill “that would make a corporation’s state tax returns available on a state website.” But, as I asked in March, for what purpose? We were never actually told. Presumably, if the corporations in question were up to anything untoward they wouldn’t be putting it on their state tax returns.

This bill is, in fact, simply another manifestation of the increasing tendency in the DFL to see business as, at best, a cash cow to be milked dry for its own benefit or, at worst, a positive threat to society.

Fortunately, this bill stalled.

Better, but not great, property forfeiture provisions

I’ve written before about Geraldine Tyler, whose Minneapolis condo was seized in 2015 “over about $2,300 of unpaid property taxes, plus $12,700 in penalties, interest and fees.” The county sold the condo for $40,000 and pocketed the $25,000 difference. As I wrote in March:

Ms. Tyler took Hennepin County all the way to the Supreme Court to end this practice of “home equity theft” …I am happy to say that, in a unanimous decision, she [won], in the case of Tyler v. Hennepin County.

State governments started legislating in response. Some, like South Dakota, have put a stop to the taking of surplus equity. Early in the session, Minnesota was poised to take a very different path, allowing governments to continue taking more than was owed unless property owners file a request in court demanding the return of their equity.

Happily, as enacted in the mammoth Sunday night bill, governments which sell a forfeited property for more than the minimum bid are required to notify all interested parties — including the prior owner — so they can file a claim and collect that surplus. In addition, the bill strengthens the requirements for counties to notify owners that their property is in forfeiture, and let them know about property tax relief programs for which they might be eligible. 

While this is not as good as the approach taken by South Dakota, it is better than the proposal the DFL tried to run with originally.

No ‘basic income’

In April, I wrote about a DFL proposal to use “$100 million of taxpayer’s money to fund handouts of hundreds of dollars each month to up to 10,000 people, including illegal immigrants.”

This was branded a “basic income” program rather than the old “universal basic income” because it wasn’t intended to be universal. Indeed, as my colleague Bill Glahn wrote, the program was to be administered at arms length with the state government handing the cash to a variety of friendly non-profits — what could possibly go wrong? — who could dish the money out based on any criteria they saw fit.

The whole thing is basically a slush fund. Thankfully, it went nowhere.


You may have noticed that pretty much all this good news is in the form of defensive wins, of government not doing something bad rather than it doing something good. Well, you take what you can get. And a word of warning: Experience shows that none of these bad ideas ever really go away. Like the sanctuary state proposal and the $15 an hour statewide minimum wage, these ideas have simply slipped back into the shadows to await their opportunity.