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Package of Democracy Reforms Clears First Hurdle in Minnesota House

Updated: Mar 3, 2021

Update: The bill has now passed in three different House committees. The companion bill in the Senate has yet to receive a hearing and it is very unlikely to pass the Minnesota Senate.

On January 27 a broad bill concerning elections, campaign finance, and redistricting was voted out of committee by the MN House State Government Finance and Elections Committee on a party-line vote. The bill is H.F. 9. A detailed summary of the bill is available here. Video of today's hearing is available here. Video of a hearing held yesterday, focused largely on the same bill, is available here. The companion bill in the Senate is S.F. 422.

The bill contains a broad package of reforms that would:

  1. Automatically register anyone applying for a driver's license to vote and make it easier for others to register;

  2. Restore voting rights for those with a felony conviction unless they remain incarcerated;

  3. Allow voters to have an absentee ballot, rather than an absentee ballot application, sent to them automatically prior to each election;

  4. Establish standards for absentee ballot drop boxes and require rulemaking to establish necessary procedures;

  5. Require that absentee voting instructions be provided in Spanish, Hmong, and Somali;

  6. Require that early voting be available for 30 days prior to each election including every weekday and two Saturdays;

  7. Allow the Secretary of State to use HAVA funds without the need for approval from the Legislature;

  8. Prohibit voter intimidation, deceptive practices, and other forms of interference with the right to vote;

  9. Establish a Democracy Dollar program similar to that used in Seattle, whereby every registered voter will be provided two $25 coupons that may be assigned to any state-level candidate and then redeemed for cash from the state government, until funds are exhausted;

  10. Establish a matching contribution program whereby contributions to candidates will be matched by the state on a 6-1 basis for contributors residing in the candidate's district, and on a 3-1 basis for those residing outside the candidate's district, and contributions to political parties will be matched on a 1-1 basis, until funds are exhausted;

  11. Eliminate the existing political contribution refund and public subsidy programs;

  12. Expand the scope of communications defined as independent expenditures;

  13. Require those making independent expenditures to include on their campaign material a list of their top three contributors; and

  14. Establish redistricting principles and require public hearings, review, and opportunity for comment during the redistricting process.

Media coverage of the bill is available from MPR News, Kare11, and MinnPost. An overview of the bill by chief author Representative Emma Greenman is available via the following video starting at 26:34:

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