By – Jeff Tollefson, CEO, MnTech

Headshot of Jeff Tollefson, MnTech
Jeff Tollefson, President & CEO, MnTech

Minnesota’s 2024 legislative session kicked off on February 12th, a session that will be decidedly less active (and hopefully, less divisive) than what we experienced in 2023 when lawmakers passed a record $72 billion state budget and spent the entirety of the $17.6 billion surplus that had been generated. Last November, it was announced that the $2.4 billion projected surplus at the end of this next biennium would turn into a loss of similar size in the 2026-27 timeframe. Accordingly, legislative leaders shared they will take a very cautious approach to any new spending this session. The next state revenue forecast is expected to be released this Thursday, with early signals of an upward movement in the estimated budget surplus.

Legislative work in 2024 will focus on construction projects in a bonding bill, with Gov. Walz proposing $982 million in infrastructure spending last month. Other priority areas include a slew of legislative fixes of bills passed last year (including the income tax correction passed yesterday that would have cost taxpayers $350 million), school resource officer policies, sports betting, assisted suicide, cannabis, status as a sanctuary state, and even a reconsideration of the state flag. With all 134 House seats up for grabs in November’s elections, rest assured that leaders of both parties, especially in the House, will view every issue through an election lens.

In terms of legislative initiatives affecting tech-enabled businesses in Minnesota, here are some bills we’re closely watching and/or weighing in on:

HF3492 – This is a follow-up to the Computer Science Education Advancement Act MnTech helped pass last session and calls for $8 million of funding for CS educator training and overall capacity building. The bill passed the House Education Policy Committee last week and was referred to the House Finance Committee for further action. The draft CS state plan developed over the past five months can be found here with the final version due March 22. While the plan is a good start, we’re pushing for a stronger mandate and accelerated timelines.

HF2309 – The revised version of the MN Consumer Data Privacy Act being championed by Rep. Elkins was introduced last week and we’re happy to report that he’s made changes to make Minnesota’s law more aligned with what’s been passed in 15 other states. There are still some nagging differences (e.g. geolocation) which makes MN more unique, but at least the problematic private right of action has been removed.

HF2257 – While supportive of the intent of the Age-Appropriate Design Code bill in protecting kids from harmful online content, the bill’s broad reach includes websites that are “reasonably likely to be accessed” by children under the age of 18. We believe this is an overly inclusive standard that will subject lots of websites and platforms to the bill’s requirements. Businesses subject to this broad and subjective definition are required to complete a Data Protection Impact Assessment for every online service, product, and feature that kids under the age of 18 are “reasonably likely to access.” These assessments would be costly and time-consuming, especially for those websites and features that have a low-risk of negatively impacting children. I highlighted this concern in my testimony at last week’s House Commerce & Finance Policy hearing.

HF4182 – This Equal Access to Broadband bill changes the way broadband is regulated in Minnesota and would lead to higher costs for businesses and consumers and slow down progress being made in broadband deployment across the state.

HF1563 & HF398 – These antitrust bills would diverge from federal antitrust laws and place restrictions on Minnesota companies that their competitors in other states do not have. Of particular concern in HF1563 is the new concept of “abuse of dominance” not found in U.S. antitrust laws or in other states, making Minnesota even less business-friendly. It could also discourage innovation as it could subject you to possible litigation if your invent a new product that becomes a hit and “dominant” in the market.

HF3456 – Proposed legislation that states no provider of services (e.g. IT consulting firms, contractors) can restrict or prohibit in any way a business customer from directly or indirectly soliciting or hiring an employee of that service provider.

HF 3587 – Would require salary ranges in all job postings.

Other issues we are monitoring include the potential rollback of the data center sales tax exemption, digital right to repair modifications, taxation of streaming service subscriptions, and more. There are also hearings planned in multiple committees related to artificial intelligence and we will be keeping tabs on state efforts to regulate the use of algorithms and machine learning.

Although 2024 is supposed to be an “off” year with the focus on passing a bonding bill, it’s clear many elected officials will try to use the session as a means of showing their electorate they’re active lawmakers, meaning we will be playing far more defense than offense this session.

If there are specific issues potentially impacting your organizations or industry sectors where MnTech’s voice and advocacy can be of value, please reach out to me at