Election season 2024 kicks into high hear as session 2023-24 came to a dramatic close at the end of May. Of course, the drama of this cycle is only just beginning.  

By Matt Thompson on Jun 19 2024

After what many sources described as a “chaotic” end to the 2023-24 Minnesota Legislative Session, a lot of new law from cannabis regulation, to housing, taxes, and more have been passed. In a late night vote on May 19th, just before the midnight deadline, the DFL controlled House of Representatives and Senate moved forward a 1,430 page omnibus bill after days of Republican filibusters. The bill passed 70-50 in the House and 34-14 in the Senate. The drama caused House Minority Leader Lisa Demuth (R-Cold Spring) and Rep. Paul Torkelson (R-Hanska) to file an ethics complaint against House Speaker Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park). The republican legislators claim that the speaker “violated the norms of House behavior, betrayed the public trust, and brought the House into dishonor and disrepute.” The motion is unlikely to be brought up since the DFL maintains the majority in the House of Representatives.  

All of this is on the heels of state Sen. Nicole Michell’s arrest on April 22nd on one count of first-degree burglary for allegedly breaking and entering into the home of her stepmother over a family dispute about her late father’s ashes. Republicans immediately moved to disqualify Michell from voting. Many Democrats such as state Senate Majority Leader Erin Murphy (DFL-St. Paul) urged to allow the legal process to play out during session. Now that session is over, state Sen. Nicole Michell is facing calls from leaders of her own party to step down. Amid ongoing ethics complaint proceedings, the embattled state senator says she has no plans to step down.  

With all of this tumult in mind, the legislators are now looking towards their November races. The DFL has a one seat majority in the Senate, which state Sen. Michell’s action now call into question. Add to this to the fact that Rep. Dave Lislegard (DFL-Aurora) announced his retirement just days after the end of session. That district is expected to be picked up by the Republicans, further reducing the DFL majority in the House to just four seats.  

This clearly puts the stakes of 2024 into stark relief. We will see if the Republicans can capitalize on Sen. Michell’s seat by arguing that her felony charge disqualifies her from office considering that the presumed Republican nominee for president of the United States, Donald J. Trump, is now a convicted felon. We will also see if the DFL can maintain its majorities in the face of local and national political headwinds. One thing is for sure: the drama isn’t over yet.