This legislative session was truly historic. We witnessed the passage of sweeping legislation — some of which was 10 years in the making — and moved forward so many of our priorities that will increase safety, holistic well-being, and economic justice for all Minnesotans.
To begin the session, we testified in support of and were present as Governor Walz signed the Protect Reproductive Options (PRO) Act – with a powerful coalition of activists and legislators who have been fighting to guarantee reproductive care in Minnesota as a fundamental right. With the Ban on Conversion Therapy, the Trans Refuge Bill, and the Reproductive Freedom Defense Act also signed by the Governor, Minnesota is a place where medical providers and people seeking gender-affirming and reproductive health care will be protected. And, after more than a decade of advocacy, Minnesota now prohibits the harmful practices of conversion therapy. These legislative victories are the result of hard work, strong community-based legislators leading the charge, and advocacy from communities and allies across the state.
Thanks to the advocacy of community leaders and families, Minnesota will fund the Office of Missing & Murdered Indigenous Relatives and created and funded an Office of Missing & Murdered Black Women & Girls at higher levels than anticipated to bring increased attention and investigation to cases disproportionately affecting Black and Indigenous families. As Rep. Ruth Richardson has said, “Minnesota is creating a blueprint for the nation to prioritize the safety and security of Black women and young girls. We matter and we are worthy of resources, investment in prevention, and protection.”
At the end of the session, the Paid Family & Medical Leave bill was signed into law, after 10 years of grassroots coalition building, advocacy by advocates including our supporters, the Executive Council for the Young Women’s Initiative, and leaders from communities most in need of this benefit. All Minnesotans will now have the ability to take care of themselves after a cancer diagnosis, care for a new baby, or care for an aging parent as they pass from this life without risking their jobs or economic stability. Minnesota is the 12th state to create this benefit.
We are celebrating policy wins from our agenda, as well as successful legislation for work led by our long-time partners, like the Reproductive Health Alliance, Black Maternal Health Caucus, Drivers’ Licenses for All, and the Youth Services Network. These policies and more support a culture of collective care, led by our state’s communities and advocates working on the frontlines for change.
Our Policy Agenda for Change
- Creating and funding the Office of Missing & Murdered Black Women & Girls — Signed into law!
- Expanding Safe Harbor funding — Signed into law!
- Funding for Office of Missing & Murdered Indigenous Relatives — Signed into law!
- Child care expansions of CCAP funding, early learning scholarships and more — Signed into law!
- ERA Minnesota — Passed through all committees
- Child tax credit — Signed into law!
- Menstrual products in schools and public colleges — Signed into law!
- Paid Family & Medical Leave — Signed into law!
Holistic Well-being & Reproductive Justice
- Protecting Reproductive Options (PRO Act) — Signed into law!
- Doubled funding for Family Planning Grants — Signed into law!
- Removing restrictions on abortion (Repealer Act) — Nearly all removed!
- Banning conversion therapy — Signed into law!
This work would not have been possible without the support of our partners and supporters who testified at the Capitol, made phone calls, sent emails, and spoke directly with lawmakers about our policy agenda for a more just Minnesota. From the start of the session, our Governor-appointed Young Women’s Cabinet were trained in advocacy, developed a policy agenda, and delivered testimony and letters of support. Following the lead of communities most impacted by these laws, we helped build the momentum and mobilization for change.
Young Women’s Cabinet Leads
Championing the Young Women’s Cabinet as experts of the issues they experience is critical to supporting their ongoing leadership development and grassroots advocacy. As part of the Young Women’s Initiative, a partnership between the Women’s Foundation and the Office of the Governor and Lt. Governor, Cabinet members have the opportunity to advocate for a policy agenda that centers women, girls, and gender-expansive people, and other groups pushed to the margins.
During Women’s History Month, the Women’s Foundation and Young Women’s Cabinet hosted Claiming Our Power: Young Women’s Day at the Capitol and were joined by supporters to meet with legislators and advocate for policies that impact our communities across Minnesota.
We know that policy changes and increased investment are just part of the solution to valuing gender and racial justice in our state. We will continue to work in partnership across sectors and aisles, with advocates, the Young Women’s Cabinet, and community leaders to push for progress and a state that values the dignity and well-being of all people.
Celebrating FeMNist Policy
On May 30, Women’s Foundation vice president of strategic initiatives, Cynthia Bauerly, led an end-of-session briefing, Celebrating FeMNist Policy: A 2023 Legislative Session Recap, on LinkedIn Live with Rep. Ruth Richardson, the chief author of the Paid Family & Medical Leave bill and a leader in the creation of the Office of Missing & Murdered Black Women in Minnesota, a first in the nation.
To keep up with Women’s Foundation policy news and calls to action, sign up for our policy email newsletter, delivered biweekly during session.