2023 Legislative Recap from Alliance Coalitions

With the passage of numerous progressive policies — from tenant protections to small business loan programs — the 2023 state legislative session is being celebrated as one of the most impactful in recent history in improving the lives of Minnesotans. These gains would not have been possible without the leadership of BIPOC lawmakers and community organizers advancing policies for housing, climate, transportation and economic justice. Many of the coalitions convened by the Alliance, and those coalition member organizations, advocated at the state capitol this year and helped to secure significant victories for our communities. Read more below. 

Blue Line Coalition
The Blue Line Coalition is rooted in the BIPOC and immigrant communities that will be most impacted by the Blue Line Light Rail Extension project. Since 2013, we have been working together to make sure government leaders recognize the Blue Line extension is a racial justice and regional equity issue and that community inclusion and leadership must be central to ALL planning and outcomes. Bills passed this session that advance our collective work included: 

  • Blue Line Extension Engagement Meetings: As part of the transportation omnibus bill and in connection to the appropriation of $50 million in state funding for the project, 
    • “The Blue Line light rail extension project office must, at least quarterly, organize and facilitate community engagement meetings in consultation with community groups located along the Blue Line extension alignment route.”
    • “Representatives from the Metropolitan Council, Hennepin County, and the Department of Transportation [as well as from the cities along the line] must participate in the community engagement meetings and all other meetings relating to anti-displacement initiatives connected to the Blue Line light rail extension project.”
    • “By July 1, 2023, the Blue Line light rail extension project office must coordinate with community groups to establish a framework for community engagement meetings. The framework must at a minimum include project information, light rail impacts on and opportunities for businesses and residents, and business mitigation and anti-displacement strategies. The framework must also include a process for community feedback on project design options.”

Business Resource Collective
The BRC envisions a Minnesota where thriving Black, Indigenous, immigrant, and people of color owned (BIPOC) businesses build and sustain the culture, wealth and economic vitality of our communities. Guided by our direct connection to BIPOC small businesses and entrepreneurs, our coalition advocates for increased financial resources, technical support and policy changes at the state and local levels to create a healthy ecosystem that invests in the specific needs and accelerates the growth of BIPOC businesses across Minnesota. This legislative session, the BRC focused its efforts on building coalitional capacity for its Investment Package proposal and amplifying and supporting bills advanced by coalition members. Bills passed this session that advance our collective work included: 

  • The “Providing Resources and Opportunity and Maximizing Investments in Striving Entrepreneurs (PROMISE) Act” which provides grants of $10,000 – $50,000 to businesses with annual revenues under $750,000 to be distributed across five commercial corridors, including Lake Street, as well as a new loan program for small businesses located in “a community that has been adversely affected by structural racial discrimination, civil unrest, and lack of access to capital.” Read more from coalition member Lake Street Council here
  • Codifying and increasing ongoing funding for Small Business Assistance Partnership Grants, a competitive grant program at DEED that supports small business technical assistance. In addition to ensuring a minimum of $5.45 million for the program in upcoming years, the bill added LGBTQ + as a targeted group along with clarifying that cooperatives and commercial land trusts are eligible businesses. Read more from coalition member Metropolitan Consortium of Community Developers here
  • The creation of the Expanding Opportunity Low-Interest Capital Fund, a new revolving low-interest loan fund that will provide affordable capital to DEED partner CDFIs and other non-profit economic development organizations. Read more from coalition member Metropolitan Consortium of Community Developers here
  • Paid family and medical leave that will guarantee workers in the state the right to paid leave when they cannot work due to serious health or caregiving needs, and cover both full-time and part-time employees regardless of employer size — a provision in alignment with the BRC’s Healthy Business Framework. Read the fast facts about the bill from the Center for American Progress here.

Coalition for Clean Transportation
The Coalition for Clean Transportation envisions a future where all Minnesotans, from urban to suburban to rural, have equitable access to clean transportation options that promote health and connection for all.  The CCT works to eliminate Minnesota’s transportation-related climate emissions through the increased adoption and availability of sustainable and equitable electrification options, centering BIPOC and under-resourced communities who disproportionately bear the impact of climate change, air pollution, and experience high rates of mobility injustice. Bills passed this session that advance our collective work included: 

A transportation omnibus bill that included: 

  • Funding for Federal Formula and Discretionary Match Requirements that will enable under-resourced areas to be able to compete for federal funding and Technical Assistance to expand organizational capacity for urban, rural, and tribal communities navigating federal grant applications for critical infrastructure and transportation projects, boosting the ability of underinvested communities to navigate and access federal funding.
  • An Electric Bike Tax Credit that will promote a cleaner environment by reducing climate change pollution, encouraging healthier lifestyles by promoting physical activity, and reducing transportation costs for Minnesota families. Read more from coalition member Bike MN here.
  • 0.75¢ Metro Sales Tax for Transit, Walking, and Bicycling that will add $314 million in new revenue per year for transit after closing the operating deficit — a key step toward reducing mobility disparities in BIPOC and low-income communities and for people with disabilities.
  • And more!

A climate omnibus bill with significant appropriations for electric vehicles, including: 

  • $14 million to support school districts in accelerating the adoption of electric school buses into district fleets, creating cleaner trips to school for our kids and cleaner air across the state. This funding will help purchase more than 30 electric school buses and prioritize school districts in communities already facing environmental justice impacts and disparities.

Read more from coalition member Sierra Club North Star Chapter here.

Equity in Place
Equity in Place is a diverse group of strategic partners from organizations led by people of color and housing advocacy organizations working to advance housing justice and equitable community development. We organize and advocate with a race equity lens to understand and center how power inequities shape inequitable outcomes for our communities. Our 2023 legislative agenda included solutions from tenant-led and community-based organizations that rebalance the scales to create lasting renter power and housing justice. Bills passed this session that advance our collective work included: 

The substantial changes to Minnesota tenant/landlord law

  • Pre-Eviction Protections: Landlords must give their tenants 14 days’ written notice before filing an eviction action for nonpayment against them in court. Cities are allowed to enact and enforce their own stronger pre-filing notice requirements.
  • Expungement Reform: Eviction expungements become much more accessible in several situations, when: 1) the tenant prevails; 2) the case is dismissed; 3) the parties agree to expungement or upon request of the tenant if the case is settled and the tenant fulfills the terms; 4) the eviction was ordered three or more years ago. Further, evictions are prohibited from being reported in public court records until a court judgment is made for the landlord.
  • Transparency in the cost of housing: Requires landlords to disclose non-optional fees (along with the rent) on the first page of the lease as well as in any advertisement or posting of a unit for a residential tenancy. 
  • And much more! Read more from coalition member HOME Line here.

$1 billion in funding for housing – the largest single housing investment in state history, including: 

  • $5 million grant to coalition member Urban Homeworks “to expand initiatives pertaining to deeply affordable homeownership in Minneapolis neighborhoods with over 40% of residents identifying as Black, Indigenous, or People of Color and at least 40% of residents making less than 50% of the area median income. The grant is to be used for acquisition, rehabilitation, and construction of homes to be sold to households with incomes of 50% to 60% of the area median income.”
  • A new statewide assistance program that will provide 5,000 more housing vouchers to low-income households in Minnesota to pay their rent
  • The first dedicated funding source for affordable housing through a new quarter-cent sales tax in the seven-county Twin Cities metropolitan area, which will raise about $300 million over the next two years, with the majority going directly to metro area cities and counties to help fund affordable housing development and homelessness prevention initiatives.
  • Read more about the bill provisions in the Minnesota Reformer here.