Sanctuary state and assisted suicide legislation appear to be dead — for now

Legislative leaders signaled Monday that neither bill is likely to pass this session.

House Speaker Melissa Hortman speaks with reporters Monday during the first day of the legislative session. (Minnesota House Info/YouTube)

On Monday, legislative leaders in the Minnesota House and Senate effectively announced the death knell for two major pieces of left-wing legislation.

Melissa Hortman, the speaker of the Minnesota House of Representatives, told reporters that the proposed sanctuary state bill does not have the votes to get through both chambers. Similarly, Erin Murphy, the Senate majority leader, expressed her belief that assisted suicide will not be approved by the current group of Minnesota legislators.

With a Democratic majority in the Minnesota House, a razor-thin Democratic majority in the Minnesota Senate (34 Democrats, 33 Republicans), and control of the governorship, the early surrender on two Democratic wish-list items is significant.

Assisted suicide legislation

Approving assisted suicide legislation appeared to be a significant priority for Democratic lawmakers coming into the 2024 session. Weeks ago, Democrats in the Minnesota House took the unusual step of holding a public hearing on the bill before the legislative session even began. The bill, HF 1930, had also been heavily promoted in the media.

HF 1930 would allow anyone over the age of 18 who is diagnosed with a terminal illness prognosis of six months or less to end their life with physician-assisted suicide. The bill requires those seeking assisted suicide to be “mentally capable.”

Further, HF 1930 states that the individual seeking assisted suicide must self-administer the medication that will kill their body. The bill has no requirement that those seeking assisted suicide be Minnesota residents. 

However, Senate Majority Leader Murphy, D-St. Paul, does not believe HF 1930 is going to pass the Minnesota Legislature. Speaking to reporters on Monday, Murphy said, “I expect that it’s going to take time for us as a people, as Minnesotans, to reconcile the way we feel and what we think about that legislation. So we’re at the beginning of a process that will probably take more than one year before we’re at a place where we can adopt it.”

Senate Majority Leader Erin Murphy said at a news conference Monday that assisted suicide is unlikely to pass this session. (Minnesota Senate Media Services/YouTube0

Sen. John Hoffman, D-Champlin, has previously come out against assisted suicide legislation. Given the Democrats only have a one-vote majority in the Senate, Majority Leader Murphy was likely referring to Hoffman’s opposition when expressing her belief that assisted suicide will not be approved this session.

Sanctuary state legislation

Once again, another top-tier Democratic priority appears to be dead on arrival in the Minnesota Legislature. Before the 2024 session kicked off, Democratic lawmakers held a widely-covered news conference to promote the so-called “North Star Act.”

Championed by many left-wing groups around Minnesota, the proposed law would turn Minnesota into a “sanctuary state” for illegal immigrants. More specifically, the North Star Act would ban local law enforcement from assisting federal agencies in enforcing immigration law.

On Monday, House Speaker Hortman, D-Brooklyn Park, revealed that the North Star Act is going nowhere, saying, “I don’t believe that there are the votes for that bill to move in the House or the Senate. You would have to ask all of the members, but I just don’t think there’s the votes.”

Further stating her skepticism about the bill, the speaker said, “I don’t think a lot of us know completely what’s in it or what the authors had in mind of why they introduced the bill.”

Over the weekend, Sen. Grant Hauschild, D-Hermantown, came out in opposition to the sanctuary state bill. Given the one-vote majority in the Senate, Hauschild’s announcement effectively ends any chance of the bill becoming law. Furthermore, Rep. Dave Lislegard, D-Aurora, also said he would not vote for the bill. Both Hauschild and Lislegard are some of the last Iron Range Democrats in the Minnesota Legislature. Critical to preserving the Democratic majorities in the Minnesota Legislature, both men represent toss-up districts.

In 2023, Democrats approved legislation that gave illegal immigrants access to driver’s licenses, a state-run health insurance program, and free college tuition.

Other Democratic priorities for 2024

With the two most powerful players in the Minnesota Legislature signaling the end for assisted suicide and sanctuary state legislation (for now), Speaker Hortman and Majority Leader Murphy will likely focus on other legislative issues.

Approving a bonding bill will certainly be one of the most widely-discussed topics of the 2024 legislation session. Bonding bills allow the state to fund critical public infrastructure needs such as improving or replacing wastewater treatment centers, roads, bridges, and other necessities.

Requiring approval by three-fifths of the Minnesota House and Minnesota Senate, any bonding bill that Democrats put forward will need Republican buy-in to become law.

Furthermore, Democrats in the Minnesota Legislature are working to put an Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) on the ballot in 2026. The proposed ERA reads:

“All persons shall be guaranteed equal rights under the laws of this state. The state shall not discriminate against any person in intent or effect on account of race, color, national origin, ancestry, disability, or sex, including but not limited to pregnancy, pregnancy outcomes and reproductive freedom, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation.”

With a simple majority vote by the Minnesota House and Minnesota Senate, this version of the ERA could be placed on the Minnesota ballot in 2026. If approved by voters, the ERA would be enshrined in Minnesota’s constitution.


Luke Sprinkel

Luke Sprinkel previously worked as a Legislative Assistant at the Minnesota House of Representatives. He grew up as a Missionary Kid (MK) living in England, Thailand, Tanzania, and the Middle East. Luke graduated from Regent University in 2018.