By – Jeff Tollefson, CEO, MnTech

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

There was a flurry of committee activity in both the Minnesota House and Senate last week as lawmakers worked to get bills heard and favorably acted upon by appropriate committees ahead of last Friday’s first legislative deadline. This deadline primarily applies to policy bills as major appropriations bills don’t follow the same standards. The next significant deadline is April 19, at which time both houses will need to act on major appropriations and finance bills. It will then be up to legislative leaders to sort through all the “asks” and winnow it down to the items they wish to put forth in a series of omnibus bills for passage ahead of the May 20th session deadline.

To give you an idea as to the level of activity this session, 49 new bills were introduced in the Senate just yesterday (SF5176 through SF5225), bringing the total number of bills introduced this session to past the 5,000 mark. While many will not be acted upon this session, the sheer volume is astounding.

With the latest budget forecast showing that the current two-year budget period (2024-25) will end with a surplus of $3.7 billion (an increase of $1.3 billion from the November 2023 forecast), the Governor, Senate Majority Leader, and House Speaker agreed on targets last week for a supplemental budget of an additional $477 million for the 2024-25 biennium. This was allocated amongst 26 categories of spending and provides guidance to legislative committees as to how much they may have to work with in crafting final omnibus spending bills.

Here are updates on some of the legislative initiatives affecting our tech community that we’re currently monitoring or weighing in on:

HF3492 / SF4295 – 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 through appropriate House committees and was passed by the Senate Education Finance Committee at a hearing this morning and laid over for possible inclusion in the omnibus bill. Of note, the working group developing a comprehensive state plan for expanded CS education in Minnesota completed their work and submitted the plan to the legislature as required last Friday. You can read the recommendations here. MnTech hosted a celebratory event for working group members and key stakeholders last Thursday afternoon to recognize their important work on behalf of students and businesses in our state.

HF2309 / SF2915 – The MN Consumer Data Privacy Act being championed by Rep. Elkins continues to pass through House and Senate committees and is on track to be adopted in its current form. In the absence of a federal statute, businesses are unfortunately left to deal with a patchwork of state laws and Minnesota will soon join 15+ other states that have adopted their own versions. While there are still some nagging differences (e.g. geolocation) which makes MN more unique, at least the problematic private right of action has been removed and MnTech is no longer standing in opposition of the bill.

HF3456 / SF3721 – This potentially problematic legislation 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. MnTech testified in opposition at the Judiciary Finance & Civil Law Committee hearing on 3/5 and shared the impact this would have on IT consulting and contract-to-hire firms. We’ve met with the bill’s primary author (Rep. Greenman) in an effort to modify the language, but to no avail. If your organization is potentially impacted by this bill and wish to discuss, please reach out to me at and I can share a bit about our current positioning on this bill.

HF2257 / SF2810 – 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.” We continue to raise our objections and testified in opposition to the bill’s passage in its current form at the 2/21 House Commerce & Finance Policy hearing.

Another bill authored by Rep. Stephenson directly addressing social media platforms called the Prohibiting Social Media Manipulation Act (HF4400) is now gaining steam and was highlighted in a recent Star Tribune story you can read here. I’m hopeful that this more targeted bill is the one that ultimately gets passed to address social media concerns rather than the more problematic HF2257.

HF4182SF4262 – This bill expands the ability of municipalities to assess a franchise tax on all broadband service providers (not just cable companies) leading to higher costs for businesses and consumers and slowing down progress being made in broadband deployment across the state. By including wireless service providers in this definition, this act violates federal law as the FCC is the sole regulator of wireless spectrum and services. MnTech testified in opposition at the 3/11 House Commerce Finance & Policy hearing and we hope the “no increase in taxes this session” mindset will hold true.

HF2021 / SF3711 – This “net neutrality” bill was introduced again and we can see pros and cons on each side of the issue. In the end, we believe this should be a federal issue, rather than a patchwork state-by-state approach, as the internet doesn’t stop at state lines. State and local efforts to regulate an open internet can harm broadband investment at a time when historic levels of federal funding is being distributed alongside unprecedented private investment. We don’t wish to see this pass in Minnesota and prefer to let the FCC and other federal agencies continue to take the lead.

HF4929 / SF4983 – This modifies current statutes to ensure that qualified large-scale data centers can continue to benefit from sales tax exemptions on information technology equipment and computer software purchased in the building or refurbishing of qualified data centers. MnTech as long been supportive of such tax exemptions.

HF1563 & HF398  – These antitrust bills were brought to our attention by the MN Chamber of Commerce and fortunately, it doesn’t appear either one will be moving forward. The 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.

The legislature is now on Easter recess and will resume on Tuesday, April 2, at 12:00 pm. 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