ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP/WCCO) — The Minnesota Legislature has returned to action for a 2015 session expected to last five months.
The House and Senate gaveled in around noon for a first day filled with formalities. For Republicans, it was also a return to a share of power since they captured the House in November.READ MORE: South Dakota's Kristi Noem Unveils Proposal To Ban Nearly All Abortions, Mimicking Texas Law
The first day is reserved for ceremony as new and returning lawmakers get sworn in. The House will elect a speaker, but Republican Rep. Kurt Daudt already has the votes to win the job.
“I hope we can run the House a little better and function in a less partisan manner,” He said. “But I also believe very deeply that we need to reform some things in Minnesota.”
Early business is expected to include time-sensitive bills to replenish a disaster relief fund and adjust the tax code to meet federal changes. But most big decisions will come closer to adjournment deadline of May 18.
As for the big issues, education and transportation appear to be on top.
“Roads and bridges are the most commonly used form of transportation for almost all Minnesotans,” Daudt said, “and we want to make sure we are taking care of that infrastructure first.”
He added that he doesn’t want the state, which has a nearly $1 billion surplus, to bite off more than it can chew with other modes of transportation.
On the other side of the isle, Rep. Paul Thissen says he’s looking forward to working on the transportation issue.READ MORE: 'We Did Pretty Good': Hopkins Girls Basketball Take On No. 1 Team In The Country
“I’m very optimistic about what we are going to be able to accomplish,” the Democrat said. “The Republicans are talking about investing in transportation, which we really want to do in a comprehensive way.”
Yet, Thissen also noticed that Republicans, who’ve long called for tighter control of the fiscal purse strings, don’t seem too shy in spending money.
“It is interesting that many of them ran on the fact that our state budget is already too big, and yet when the surplus appears, they are willing to jump in a start spending it very quickly,” he said.
On Monday, Gov. Mark Dayton said his main focus for the session was education. He spoke about year-round school options, and more advanced high school courses.
His goal is to give more Minnesota students a quality education that prepares them for the modern world.
Other issues this session look to be the Sunday liquor sales ban and more ways to improve the economy.
For the first time in state history, the budget for the general fund is set to go over $40 billion.MORE NEWS: Ryan Hartman Carries Wild Over Blackhawks 5-1
(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)