Jan. 26: Senate Floor Session, Committee Summary

By: McKenzie Kemper, Freelance Journalist

On January 26, 2023 the Senate convened for a Floor Session to discuss the CROWN Act (Bill Information HF37 – Minnesota House of Representatives (state.mn.us)), and Juneteenth state holiday recognition (SF 13 Status in the Senate for the 93rd Legislature (2023 – 2024) (mn.gov)). 

The Floor Session convened with Motions and Resolutions including a motion brought by Senator Abeler to re-refer SF1 (SF 1 Status in the Senate for the 93rd Legislature (2023 – 2024) (mn.gov)) to the Financial Committee stating. 

“We are going to have to look at Medical Assistance guidelines as right now they will only pay for an abortion in instances of rape,  incest, or criminal activity and this will have a cost to Minnesotans,” said Sen. Abeler. 

Senator Quade responded to this that Doe V. Gomez ruled the aforementioned statute as illegal by the Minnesota State Supreme Court. The Motion failed with 31 Yeas, and 34 Nays and is not adopted. 

Senator Champion motioned to bring HF37- The CROWN Act to the floor stating, “This bill is about protecting persons with natural hair and this sends an important message that all feel included in Minnesota.”.

Senator Wesenberg rose to offer an Amendment to add beards onto line 1.9.  Senator Champion responded, “We have not seen people be discriminated against for their beards, but we do have a history of persons being sent home for wearing their natural hair.”.

The Amendment brought by Senator Wesenberg did not prevail with 30 Yeas, and 35 Nays but it did spark quite a bit of conversation on the Floor. 

“Beards are not attached to culture and beards have not been identified as a challenge. We purposely made this bill as narrow as possible based on what has been seen and experienced as a challenge,” said Sen. Champion. 

Senator Drazkowski “I am struggling with your definition of culture. The people of Duck Dynasty represent people of a certain culture and the Amendment we just voted down just denied how certain characteristics relate to a certain culture. We need this bill to apply to all cultures. We basically shunned out or disregarded cultures that maybe were not considered in this bill.”

This discussion led to a Motion to Reconsider Third Reading which did not prevail with 30 Yeas and 34 Nays. 

The CROWN Act did, however, pass and had 45 Yeas and 19 Nays. 

Senator Champion then motioned to bring SF13- Establishing Juneteenth as a holiday- to the floor. 

“This is a day to reflect on history and ways to move forward. Juneteenth is a day to celebrate human freedom, reflect on the history of slavery and the systemic problems facing our country. Juneteenth is a day to reflect on both bondage and freedom.Great nations do not ignore their most painful moments, they face them. We grow stronger as a state when we acknowledge injustice but it is also a time to recognize the progress we have made. The emancipation of slaves was not the end of the work to achieve equity, but the beginning,” said Sen. Champion. 

Senator Drazkowski and Senator Lucero both brought up the fiscal impact of the bill as there was no fiscal note attached. Senator Champion told both Senators that the fiscal impact to the state had already been contractually determined and passed through the appropriate channels. The Juneteenth bill has also been through Senate Finances. 

The final vote, which would (if eventually passed through the House and signed by the Governor) establish Juneteenth as a state holiday, passed with 57 Yeas and 8 Nays. 

The Senate adjourned immediately following until Friday, January 27th at 10:30 am. 

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