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Minnesota Women's Legislative Timeline

Significant Legislation Passed by the Minnesota Legislature Since Suffrage

All Entries

1919 - Suffrage in Minnesota and the U.S., 1919-1920  Details

Synopsis: In 1920, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution received approval from three-fifths of the states and the right to vote was extended to women. Minnesota was the 15th state to ratify the amendment, in 1919 (Laws 1919, First Special Session, Resolution 1).

1921 - Women Jurors  Details

Synopsis: In 1921, Minnesota eliminated all gender qualification from jury service. (Laws 1921, Chapter 365)

1921 - Female Deputy Sheriffs 

Synopsis: Several laws passed in the 20s and 30s allowing women to be appointed to various bodies of public leadership, this law allowed for women to be appointed as deputy sheriffs. (Laws 1921, Chapter 369).

1923 - Female Candidates for Office 

Synopsis: This law allowed married women to use Mrs. and their husband's name when running for office if they so choose. (Laws 1923, Chapter 384).

1923 - Protective Labor Laws  Details

Synopsis: In 1923, the state of Minnesota enacted legislation designed to limit the number of hours women could engage in paid labor. (Laws 1923, Chapter 422)

1931 - Desertion by Father 

Synopsis: Law regarding the desertion of a child or pregnant wife was strenthened to include "the duly ajudged father of an illegitimate child" or a father involved in divorce proceedings. (Laws 1931, Chapter 94).

1941 - Common Law Marriage 

Synopsis: Common law marriage was prohibited under this law. (Laws 1941, Chapter 459).

1967 - Department of Human Rights Created 

Synopsis: The Minnesota Department of Human Rights was created; it included a division to asssist women. The Department succeeded the State Commission Against Discrimation. (Laws 1967, Chapter 897).

1969 - Discriminatory Wage Rates Prohibited 

Synopsis: The 1967 law creating the Department of Human Rights was amended to include protections against discriminatory wage rates based on gender in the workplace. (Laws 1969, Chapter 143).

1969 - Alimony 

Synopsis: Applicable to either spouse, gender specific references from alimony provisions were deleted. (Laws 1969, Chapter 1028).

1973 - Minnesota Human Rights Act  Details

Synopsis: In 1973, Minnesota passed amendments to its human rights law to prohibit discrimination against women in employment, housing, public accommodations, public service and education. (Laws 1973, Chapter 729)

1973 - Equal Rights Amendment in Minnesota  Details

Synopsis: Minnesota ratified the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution (Laws 1973, Resolution 1).

1974 - No Fault Divorce  Details

Synopsis: Minnesota enacted a no-fault divorce law. (Laws 1974, Chapter 107)

1974 - Solicitation of Prostitution 

Synopsis: The penalty for the crime of prostitution was made the same for the customer as for the prostitute. (Laws 1974, Chapter 507).

1974 - Abortion 

Synopsis: Following Roe v. Wade, the Minnesota Legislature repealed anti-abortion laws and passed a new law to regulate abortions in conformance with the U.S. Supreme Court decision. (Laws 1974, Chapter 177).

1974 - Repeal of Protective Labor Laws 

Synopsis: Labor laws limiting the number of hours women could work at any job and in manual labor (primarily passed in Laws 1933, Chapter 354) were repealed in 1974. (Laws 1974, Chapter 432).

1975 - Equal Opportunity in Athletics  Details

Synopsis: This law, known as the "Kahn Act," provided for equal opportunity in athletic teams and spelled out when single-sex teams are acceptable (Laws 1975, Chapter 338).

1976 - Establishing the Council on the Economic Status of Women  Details

Synopsis: The Council on the Economic Status of Women was created by the Minnesota Legislature (Laws 1976, Chapter 337).

1977 - Battered Women/Domestic Violence  Details

Synopsis: In 1977, Minnesota became the first state to give financial support to battered women's shelters (Laws 1977, Chapter 425).

1977 - Aid to Part-time Students of Higher Education 

Synopsis: The Higher Education Coordinating Board was charged with establishing a part-time student grant-in-aid program. This financial aid program helped women because women were more likely than men to be part-time college students. (Laws 1977, Chapter 384).

1977 - Displaced Homemakers 

Synopsis: Job counseling and training centers were created to help train and educate former homemakers who needed to enter the workforce. (Laws 1977, Chapter 428).

1978 - Affirmative Action 

Synopsis: State agencies were now required to have a statewide affirmative action program. "Females" were listed as one of the protected groups.. (Laws 1978, Chapter 708).

1978 - Open Appointments Act  Details

Synopsis: In 1978, the Minnesota Legislature passed the Open Appointments Act; one of its effects was to encourage more women to compete for and win appointments to state-funded commissions, councils and boards. (Laws 1978, Chapter 592)

1979 - Child Care Sliding Fee 

Synopsis: $1.5 million was appropriated to provide a sliding scale subsidy for child care services for those families who met the special requirements. (Laws 1979, Chapter 307).

1981 - Driver's License Name 

Synopsis: Married applicants were now able to use a family name prior to marriage as their middle name on a driver's license. (Laws 1981, Chapter 363).

1981 - Women Offenders 

Synopsis: Programming equivalent to male offenders was now provided for female offenders. A similar law for female juvenile offenders was passed in 1991. (Laws 1991, Chapter 135) In 1997, resources were provided to develop programs and housing for female juvenile offenders. (Laws 1997, Chapter 239) (Laws 1981, Chapter 360).

1981 - Marriage Eligibility 

Synopsis: All gender specific conditions on the qualifications to contract marriage were deleted by this law. Previously women were able to legally marry younger, now, however, it required a minimum age of 18 for both men and women. (Laws 1981, Chapter 58).

1982 - Insurance Conversion 

Synopsis: Widows and divorcing women were allowed to continue insurance carried by a former spouse under this law as well as given the legal ability to convert to policies in their own name without providing evidence of insurability. (Laws 1982, Chapter 555).

1982 - Prohibition on Sexual Harassment  Details

Synopsis: Sexual harassment was defined as an act of discrimination under the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA) (Laws 1982, Chapter 619, codified as part of the MHRA, Statutes, 363A).

1982 - Shakopee Women's Correctional Facility  Details

Synopsis: The Minnesota Legislature authorized funding for a new prison facility in Shakopee exclusively for women. (Laws 1982, Chapter 639, Section 11)

1982 - State Government Pay Equity Act  Details

Synopsis: Minnesota passed the State Government Pay Equity Act which addressed the issue of equitable compensation between male and female-dominated jobs. (Laws 1982, Chapter 634)

1984 - Pay Equity in Local Governments 

Synopsis: All political subdivisions were required to establish equitable compensation relationships in their compensation to employees. Statewide pay equity laws had been passed in 1982. (Laws 1982, Chapter 634) (Laws 1984, Chapter 651).

1984 - Credit Cards 

Synopsis: The Legislature passed a law that allowed a married woman to direct a credit card issuer to issue a card in either her current or former surname. (Laws 1984, Chapter 533).

1984 - Tip Credit 

Synopsis: The tip credit, used by restaurant owners to pay servers less than minimum wage, was phased out. This legislation was supported by the Council of the Economic Status of Women. (Laws 1984, Chapter 636).

1985 - Equity in Education 

Synopsis: Analysis of the extent of the equal participation of girls and boys with regard to curricula, courses and other training opportunities was now required to be included in the evaluation of educational sites. (Laws 1985, 1st Special Session, Chapter 12).

1985 - Auto Insurance 

Synopsis: Discrimination in auto insurance based on marital dissolution was prohibited and insurers were required to provide coverage to a former spouse. (Laws 1986, Chapter 455).

1985 - Inheritance 

Synopsis: Probate laws were changed to allow a surviving spouse receive the first $70,000 of an estate that has no will. The balance of the estate is then divided between the children. (Laws 1985, Chapter 250).

1986 - Country Club Discrimination 

Synopsis: The open space property tax benefit available to private clubs would be eliminated for clubs that discriminated in membership on the basis of sex. (Laws 1986, Chapter 412).

1986 - Gender Revision in Minnesota Statutes  Details

Synopsis: Minnesota Statutes were completely revised to remove all non-substantial gender references (Laws 1986, Chapter 444).

1987 - Parental Leave Act  Details

Synopsis: The Minnesota Legislature passed a Parental Leave Act, giving employees up to six weeks of unpaid leave with the birth or adoption of a child. (Laws 1987, Chapter 359)

1987 - Commercial Credit  

Synopsis: The Human Rights Act was amended to prohibit discrimination in the granting of commercial credit on the basis of sex or martial status. (Laws 1987, Chapter 245).

1987 - Gender Bias in the Courts Study 

Synopsis: Resources were appropriated to the Supreme Court in order to conduct a study on possible gender bias in the Minnesota Judicial System. The study results led to the creation of the Gender Fairness Implementation Committee in 1989. In 2010, this committee became part of the Equality and Justice Committee of the Minnesota Supreme Court. (Laws 1987, Chapter 404).

1988 - Marital Status Discrimination 

Synopsis: The definition of marital status under the Human Rights Act was clarified and discrimination in employment against one spouse based on the actions or beliefs of the other or a former spouse was prohibited. (Laws 1988, Chapter 660).

1989 - Family Investment Plan (Welfare Reform) 

Synopsis: State welfare laws were reformed. The new Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) supported a family's transition to financial independence while consolidating and simplifying public assistance programs. MFIP was one of the models of the federal welfare reform (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families - TANF) in 1996. (Laws 1989, Chapter 282).

1989 - Charitable Gambling 

Synopsis: The Revenue Department was now required, while auditing charitable gambling activities, to include potential gender bias in activities funded from the proceeds of charitable gambling. (Laws 1989, Chapter 335).

1989 - National Guard 

Synopsis: Through the use of tuition reimbursements and reenlistment bonus programs, the Department of Military Affairs was required to make a special effort to recruit and retain women and minorities in the guard. (Laws 1989, Chapter 335).

1990 - Expansion of Family and Medical Leave 

Synopsis: Employers were now required to allow their employees up to 16 hours of leave, during any school year, to attend school activities that cannot be scheduled during non-work hours. (Laws 1990, Chapter 577).

1990 - Workplace Rights 

Synopsis: Employers were now required to make reasonable accommodations for an employee's pregnancy or childbirth related disability. (Laws 1990, Chapter 567).

1992 - Harassment Prevention in Schools 

Synopsis: Public schools were required to conspicuously post their sexual harassment and sexual violence policies throughout the school. The schools were also required to develop a process for discussing the policies with students and school employees. (Laws 1992, Chapter 499).

1993 - Stalking and Harassment 

Synopsis: The definition of harassment was greatly expanded by this law to include "targeted residential picketing" and attending events after being warned it would be considered harassment. Also under this law harassment became a felony if the victim's race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, disability, age or national origin was a factor, including if a weapon was used or the victim was under the age of 18. (Laws 1993, Chapter 326).

1994 - Coercion into Prostitution 

Synopsis: A precursor to the human trafficking laws passed in the 2000s, legislation passed that created a civil cause of action for individuals coerced into prostitution. (Laws 1994, Chapter 624).

1994 - Public Bathrooms 

Synopsis: In 1994, a new law required buildings used for public events for 200 or more people to have a ratio of at least three women's for every two men's restroom facilities. This applied to all new buildings and renovations of old buildings. An earlier law repealed a law, as part of the gender revision of the statutes, which required public bathrooms for women but not for men. (Laws 1988, Chapter 429) (Laws 1994, Chapter 632).

1995 - Labor Education and Advancement Program or LEAP  Details

Synopsis: The Minnesota Legislature established the Labor Education and Advancement Program (LEAP), to facilitate the entry of minorities and women into apprenticeable trades (Laws 1995, Chapter 224, Section 72).

1996 - Postpartum Care Coverage 

Synopsis: Health plans are now required to provide insurance coverage for postpartum care - a minimum of 48 hours of in-patient care for vaginal delivery and a minimum of 96 hours following a caesarean section delivery. (Laws 1996, Chapter 335 )

1996 - Insurance for Domestic Abuse Victims 

Synopsis: Those who have been or are a victim of domestic abuse can no longer be refused by life or health insurance entities from being offered , sold or renewing their coverage, having their coverage limited, or being charged a different rate due to their domestic abuse. (Laws 1996, Chapter 278).

1996 - Women's Suffrage Memorial 

Synopsis: Resources were appropriated for the construction of Minnesota Women's Suffrage Memorial Garden on the Capitol grounds. (Laws 1996, Chapter 390).

1997 - Women in Prostitution 

Synopsis: Organizations were provided resources in order to establish and provide support services for women leaving systems of prostitution. (Laws 1997, Chapter 239).

1998 - Job Training for Hmong and Laotian Women 

Synopsis: $100,000 of the appropriation to the Job Training Partnership Act was set aside to provide employment and training for eligible Hmong and Laotian women. (Laws 1998 1st Special Session, Chapter 1).

1998 - Medical Assistance for Pregnant Women 

Synopsis: Eligibility for medical assistance for a pregnant woman must be determined without regard to asset standards. (Laws 1998, Chapter 407).

1998 - Spousal Credit History 

Synopsis: Creditors were required by this law to designate new credit accounts to reflect the participation of both spouses, and, if one of the spouses were to make a request in writing, to have it reflect that participation on existing credit accounts and to furnish information accordingly. It also required a creditor to consider the credit history of an account, which both spouses were permitted to use, when determining credit worthiness. (Laws 1998, Chapter 327).

1998 - Accommodations for Nursing Mothers  Details

Synopsis: Minnesota passed the country's first law requiring employers to provide accommodations for nursing mothers who need to express breast milk. (Laws 1998, Chapter 369)

2000 - Unharmed Newborn 

Synopsis: A mother, or another person with her approval, was allowed by this law to leave an unharmed newborn, within 72 hours of birth, with an employee at a hospital without being prosecuted. (Laws 2000, Chapter 421).

2005 - Sex Trafficking Law  Details

Synopsis: Minnesota enacted its first major human sex trafficking legislation. (Laws 2005, Chapter 136)

2006 - Safe at Home Program Established 

Synopsis: New legislation enabled state and local agencies to respond to requests for data without disclosing the location of a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking and to enable interagency cooperation with the secretary of state in providing address confidentiality for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. (Laws 2006, Chapter 242).

2006 - Human Trafficking 

Synopsis: A series of provisions related to human trafficking were passed including the formation of a task force, a toll-free tip line, and legal advocacy clinics. (Laws 2006, Chapter 282).

2009 - Combat Trafficking 

Synopsis: Sex trafficking was defined as a violent crime. It also clarified the definitions of prostitution and trafficking as well as enhancing penalties for trafficking. It removed the requirement of proving "force, fraud, or coercion" on the part of the trafficked individual. (Laws 2009, Chapter 137).

2010 - Domestic Violence 

Synopsis: The order for protection area for victims of domestic violence was increased and the definitions of harassment and stalking were clarified. (Laws 2010, Chapter 299).

2014 - Women's Economic Security Act  Details

Synopsis: Provisions to help women and their families achieve economic security, including expansion of parental and sick leave; mechanisms to reduce the gender pay gap; measures to help victims of sexual violence maintain economic stability; grants to train women for high-wage jobs and to encourage women entrepreneurs in traditionally male industries; protection from workplace discrimination for pregnant women, nursing mothers, and parents; and a study of innovative retirement savings plans. (Laws 2014, Chapter 239)

2020 - Marriage by Minors Prohibited 

Synopsis: New legislation prohibits marriage by minors. Previously, 16- and 17-year-old minors were allowed to receive a marriage license with permission of the minor’s parents, legal guardian, or the court. (Laws 2020, Chapter 76)

This is a joint project of the LCC Office on the Economic Status of Women and the Legislative Reference Library.  The project is made possible by the Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund through the vote of Minnesotans on Nov. 4, 2008. Administered by the Minnesota Historical Society.

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