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Minnesota lawmakers returned for a one-day special session Friday, May, 24, 2019, which ran into the early morning hours. The Capitol is pictured here just before sunrise as lawmakers wrapped up their work Saturday, May 25, 2019. Dana Ferguson/ Forum News Service

Here's a look at who came away with wins and losses in the 2019 legislative session

ST. PAUL — Minnesotans won't see a tax hike on gasoline but will see tougher restrictions behind the wheel for those using a cellphone.

A tax on medical providers will remain in place but a state-run health insurance buy-in option won't be available in the next couple years.

Minnesotans who vape won't be able to use e-cigarettes in bars and restaurants but people 18 and older will still be able to buy them.

State lawmakers went into "overtime" to finish their constitutionally-mandated work of passing a balanced budget Friday, May 24 and into the early hours of the following morning. And while most Minnesotans were sleeping, lawmakers debated and ultimately approved a $48.3 billion spending plan for the next two years.

On both sides of Minnesota's divided Legislature, lawmakers put forth policy and spending ideas that were ultimately folded into state law or squashed (at least for now).

Days after the early-morning end of a one-day special session, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, framed the budget negotiation as a "draw." But advocates pushing for changes in state law saw clearer wins and losses as the legislative session closed out.

Here's a look at some of the people who got their ideas passed and came up short in the 2019 legislative session.

Groups that came away from the Capitol with a win

Elder advocates

After years of efforts to pass legislation aimed at protecting seniors and vulnerable adults, elder advocates, assisted living industry officials and state regulators coalesced around a plan that would license assisted living facilities and guarantee a set of rights for residents.

The sweeping package passed in the final hours of the legislative session and was signed into law soon thereafter. Advocates pushed for reform after reports of abuse and neglect in Minnesota assisted living facilities ballooned in recent years.

Fans of the medical provider tax

Doctors, hospital administrators, people on state medical assistance program and others rallied in support of keeping a 2% tax on medical providers, which was set to sunset at the end of the year. In closed-door negotiations, the tax was reduced to 1.8% but the sunset date was removed.

Those affected by opioid addiction

Minnesotans addicted to opioids as well as other groups dealing with the fallout of the opioid epidemic will see new education and treatment services funded by an increased fee on drug manufacturers and distributors.

The package was years in the making, and its authors said they were determined to get it passed this year, even if it wasn't perfect.

Opponents of texting and driving

Family members of people killed in distracted-driving-related crashes got a win at the Capitol after years of trying to make drivers put down their phones. Beginning Aug. 1, it will be illegal to drive while using a cellphone unless it’s in hands-free or one-touch mode.

Accountability hawks

Minnesotans concerned about fraud and financial abuse in state programs saw some wins as lawmakers aisle agreed to review the state's driver's license and registration system, known as MNLARS, and set in place new oversight for spending in state health and human services programs.

Sexual assault survivors and advocates

Minnesota lawmakers approved a slate of policy changes aimed in closing loopholes in state law that prevent survivors of sexual assault or abuse from receiving justice. The changes come following an extensive series from the Minneapolis Star Tribune laying out flaws in state rape statutes.

While the bulk of the proposed changes were accepted, a bill that would remove legal standard that blocks many sexual harassment cases from making it to court wasn't changed. The measure's author said she would again push for the change next year.

Groups that came up short this year

Gas tax fans/pothole foes

Labor unions, frustrated drivers and Democrats who supported a phased-in 20-cent increase to the state's tax on gasoline were dealt a blow in closed-door budget negotiations as Gov. Tim Walz and House Speaker Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, agreed to drop the tax hike in exchange for other priorities.

Supporters said the new revenue was needed to repair crumbling roads and bridges and to maintain the state's general fund, which lawmakers use to pay for other state services. Opponents, including Gazelka, said Minnesota drivers couldn't afford it and sought to raise money through other means.

Supporters of paid family leave

Groups pushing to set up a payroll tax that would fund employee pay while a person is on medical leave or is attending to family members saw their efforts fall by the wayside in final budget negotiations.

Abortion opponents

Opponents of abortion aimed to pass legislation this year that would ban abortions 20 weeks post-fertilization except in cases of possible death or serious physical harm. Physicians found performing the procedure would be subject to felony charges under the proposal. The measure didn't get a hearing in the DFL-led House.

Scientists and activists aiming to respond to climate change

An ambitious proposal to require that all electricity produced in the state be carbon-free by 2050 fell short in a conference committee reviewing a larger catch-all jobs, economic development and energy spending plan.

Immigrants aiming to obtain driver's licenses

Undocumented workers and family members came up short again this year of convincing the Legislature to change state law to allow non-citizens to obtain driver's licenses in Minnesota.

Opportunity scholarship supporters

Proponents of a state program that would let people and organizations that fund scholarships for low- and middle-income families to send their kids to private or parochial schools collect tax credits failed to win over the Legislature this year. Walz, a former public school teacher, said from early on in the session that he opposed the program.

Opponents of youth tobacco use

A measure that would've boosted the minimum age to buy tobacco in the state from 18 to 21 didn't make it into a final omnibus spending bill. Groups aiming to curb tobacco use among young people did see lawmakers continue funding for tobacco cessation services and included vaping in the state's Freedom to Breathe Act, blocking patrons from using e-cigarettes in restaurants and bars.

Gun control advocates

Advocates for tighter restrictions on firearms were dealt a loss this year as lawmakers voted down an effort to include two gun control measures in a catch-all spending bill. Senate leaders had previously said they'd hold a hearing on the bills only if the full House could approve them first.


Labor unions

While lawmakers approved efforts to cut back on wage theft, which was a priority for Minnesota labor groups, they didn't greenlight a broad transportation plan that could've funded construction projects and delayed a $440 million plan to sell bonds to pay for projects around the state.