Bench + Bar of Minnesota

2024 Minnesota legislative recap


MSBA priorities fare well in difficult environment

By Bryan Lake

After passing large budget increases and a seemingly endless list of major policy changes in 2023, state lawmakers returned to St. Paul in February for the second year of the legislative biennium. They planned to address a new set of issues that were significant but smaller in scope than the historic, and historically large, 2023 agenda made possible by DFL control of the House, Senate, and Governor’s Office. 

Democrats still held the House majority by a handful of votes, but with every House seat on the ballot this November, election-year political considerations featured more prominently. Meanwhile, Democrats continued to cling to a one-vote advantage in the Senate, essentially giving each DFL senator veto power over every proposal. This dynamic was further complicated by the arrest of a DFL senator on burglary allegations in April, a shocking development that disrupted the session and caused serious political complications. 

The biggest challenge of the 2024 session involved some major legislation that needed bipartisan votes to get across the finish line (most notably, a bonding bill and legalized sports betting). Unfortunately, the latter stages of the session were marked by growing partisan acrimony and floor debates that often extended deep into the night. Bipartisan agreement on a broad set of issues proved elusive, causing some high-profile legislation to be set aside, while many other proposals got done only after being rolled into a monstrous 1,432-page omnibus bill that was compiled and rapidly passed during the final hour of the session.  

After the dust settled, lawmakers returned to their districts for the summer. Now all eyes are on the November elections, in which every House seat—and the balance of power at the Capitol—will be up for grabs.  

The MSBA agenda

The MSBA had four lobbying priorities this year, including two bills that responded to recent appellate court decisions and two that made noteworthy family law changes. 

First, the MSBA successfully passed a bill that became Chapter 87. The new law, created in response to the 2023 Minnesota Court of Appeals case Swanson v. Wolf, clarifies that in rem jurisdiction is allowed in trust-related matters. Attorney Cameron Kelly, the legislative committee co-chair for the Probate, Trusts & Estates Section that developed the proposal, said the new law “is an important clarification that will ensure client and court resources are used more efficiently.”  

The second MSBA bill to get signed this year, Ch. 91, updates statutory provisions related to Transfer on Death Deeds (TODDs). The new law clarifies confusing and complicated statutory language and addresses common technical errors. In addition, in response to Strope-Robinson v. State Farm, a 2021 8th Circuit decision, Ch. 91 enables a TODD grantor’s property insurance to be extended for 30 days post-death for the benefit of TODD beneficiaries. Kevin Dunlevy, a lawyer who testified in support of the legislation for the MSBA, said “Chapter 91 will make TODDs more user-friendly and protect TODD beneficiaries from significant insurance risks.” 

The final two MSBA priorities were a pair of family law proposals that meaningfully changed parenting time laws and completely overhauled the spousal maintenance statute. Family law bills tend to be very controversial, and therefore they rarely make it to the governor’s desk. Collaboration and stakeholder engagement are necessary ingredients for success, and we had them this year on the parenting time bill through our partnership with the National Parents Organization and the Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML). The AAML also teamed up with us on the spousal maintenance changes. 

Both bills passed independently in the House, but in the Senate they were incorporated into an omnibus bill that eventually passed both chambers and was signed into law as Ch. 101. Attorney Victoria Taylor, who helped develop the parenting time and spousal maintenance proposals over the course of several years, predicts that they will “decrease acrimony in parenting time cases and significantly reduce the amount of spousal maintenance litigation.”

Much credit and gratitude is owed to the chief authors of the MSBA’s priority bills: Lawyer-legislators Rep. Esther Agbaje (DFL-Minneapolis) and Sen. Michael Kreun (R-Blaine) for the trust jurisdiction proposal; lawyer-legislator Rep. Sandra Feist (DFL-New Brighton) and Sen. Warren Limmer (R-Maple Grove) for the TODD changes; lawyer-legislators Rep. Kelly Moller (DFL-Shoreview) and Sen. Bonnie Westlin (DFL-Plymouth) for the parenting time bill; and Sen. Westlin and Rep. Peggy Scott (R-Andover) for the spousal maintenance changes.   

A fifth MSBA proposal, which allows contracts for deed to be recorded despite delinquent property taxes, was carried in Ch. 123, a large omnibus bill. Unfortunately, a final MSBA proposal, SF4824, did not get traction at the Capitol. The bill would have addressed a concern shared by many attorneys by exempting from lobbyist registration requirements those individuals who are attempting to influence the quasi-judicial actions of local government officials. 

The MSBA also supported the policy goals of a bill to protect the personal information of judges and judicial staff from being disseminated, which was included in Ch. 123. Real property records were exempted at the request of the MSBA’s Real Property Section and other stakeholders, who are working together on potential 2025 legislation to incorporate real estate records in a manner that will not cause technical problems or unintended consequences. 

In addition, the MSBA’s Public Law Section successfully opposed a proposal to require  recording of public body meetings that are closed for attorney-client privilege. We were not successful, however, in supporting the Construction Law Section’s opposition to employee misclassification changes, which, despite opposition from other groups, were included in Ch. 127.  

As always, the MSBA was very active behind the scenes as well, offering technical suggestions and drafting assistance on numerous bills. Many thanks are due to the MSBA members who shared their time and expertise to improve the lawmaking process.

Judiciary & public safety omnibus bill

Attorneys who are curious about potential legislative changes affecting their practice areas should review Ch. 123, the omnibus judiciary and public safety policy and supplemental budget bill. Along with other allocations, the legislation provided additional funding for Judicial Branch cybersecurity, courthouse security, psychological examiners, interpreters, and jury programs. It also created a State Board of Civil Legal Aid. 

Additionally, the bill included numerous civil and criminal law policy changes. Among other things, the legislation does the following:

  • Provides victims of predatory offenders notice and an opportunity to provide input for end-of-confinement reviews.
  • Bars peace officers from asking vehicle operators to identify the reason for a traffic stop.
  • Prohibits peace officers from using cannabis odor as the sole reason to search a vehicle, driver, or passengers. 
  • Adjusts the definitions of “delinquent child,” “juvenile petty offense,” and “child in need of protection or services” so they do not apply to children alleged to have committed a delinquent act before age 13.
  • Modifies the standard for petitioning for postconviction relief based on newly discovered evidence.
  • Expands Good Samaritan protections to cover someone assisting another who is seeking emergency assistance for an individual experiencing a drug overdose.
  • Makes inadmissible a confession from a juvenile that was deceptively obtained.
  • Bans the “gay panic defense.”
  • Adds aggravated witness tampering to the definition of “violent crime.”
  • Creates a felony crime for reporting fictitious emergencies with the intent to prompt emergency responses to the homes of elected officials, judges, prosecutors, correctional facility employees, or peace officers.
  • Makes the sale of human remains a felony.
  • Requires notice to be given to any custodian of an OFP petitioner’s minor children.
  • Expands eligibility for the Safe at Home program.
  • Raises the conciliation court jurisdictional threshold to $20,000.
  • Modifies resignation and personal liability provisions for guardians.
  • Adjusts collateral source calculations.
  • Modifies search warrant provisions related to DWI laws. 
  • Corrects a statutory error regarding age-based distinctions for prostitution victims.    
  • Defines “stay” for the revocation-of-stay statute.
  • Allows criminal sexual conduct charges to be brought in any county where an element of the alleged offense took place or where the complainant is found if the complainant was mentally incapacitated or physically helpless. 
  • Authorizes in forma pauperis status for clients represented by civil legal services attorneys or volunteer lawyer programs.
  • Modifies provisions related to the Administrative Procedures Act and the Office of Administrative Hearings.
  • Overhauls statutes related to contract-for-deed transactions.
  • Establishes the Uniform Public Expression Protection Act.

These and other parts of Ch. 123 not covered here have various effective dates.  


Following up on the extensive tenants’ rights changes that they passed during the 2023 session, DFL lawmakers backed a number of additional tenants’ rights proposals that were rolled into an omnibus landlord-tenant bill that became Ch. 118

The legislation restricts landlords from: 

  • Denying an applicant based on a pending eviction. 
  • Collecting rent after an order to vacate has been issued due to code violations.
  • Evicting tenants who terminate their leases.
  • Charging pet fees that are not stated in leases.
  • Barring tenants from calling for emergency assistance for physical or mental health crises. 

Ch. 118 also enables tenants to: 

  • Create tenant associations.
  • Use taxpayer IDs on applications in lieu of Social Security numbers.
  • Break leases due to new housing construction delays.
  • Erase eviction records if the tenant was evicted for fearing imminent violence following domestic or sexual abuse.

Various effective dates.

Family law

In addition to the parenting time and spousal maintenance changes described above, Ch. 101 addresses assisted reproduction issues (effective 8/1/24) and reorganizes and modifies the pre- and post-nuptial agreement statute (effective 8/1/24).

Ch. 115 modifies the Minnesota Indian Family Preservation Act (effective 8/1/24) and gives direction to courts for adoption, child protection, and parenting time cases involving parents with disabilities (effective 8/1/24).

Ch. 117 establishes the African American Family Preservation Act (various effective dates). 

Business & labor

Ch. 93 updates the Uniform Commercial Code (effective 8/1/24).

Ch. 97 modifies workers’ compensation provisions (various effective dates).

Ch. 110, the omnibus labor and industry policy bill, voids restrictive employment covenants in service contracts (effective 7/1/24) and requires employers with 30 or more employees to include salary ranges in job postings (effective 1/1/25).

Ch. 114, the omnibus commerce policy bill, modifies various provisions related to insurance policies, financial institutions, residential mortgage servicing, bail bonds, virtual currency kiosks, student loans, medical debt collection, social media platforms, internet service providers, coerced debt, residential real estate service agreements, and wage garnishment (various effective dates).

Ch. 127 modifies Minnesota’s paid leave law (various effective dates).


Ch. 96 establishes the Minnesota Cooperative Housing Act (effective 8/1/25)

Ch. 105 amends the Minnesota Human Rights Act (effective 8/1/24)

Ch. 121 makes changes to laws governing cannabis and cannabis products (various effective dates). 

Ch. 127 modifies tax forfeiture and other tax-related provisions (various effective dates).

Note: The full text of new chapters of law referenced in this article can be found at

Bryan Lake is the MSBA’s lobbyist. He has worked with members and staff to promote and protect the MSBA’s interests at the state Capitol since 2009.

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