ST. PAUL (WCCO) — Minnesota lawmakers are racing to the end of the 2018 session.

They’re headed home in two weeks, but they have not yet passed the biggest tax and spending bills of the year.

As such, one thing is becoming clear: Some major pieces of legislation won’t make it out of the session.

You’ll remember crowds of students marching on the Capitol since February, calling for tougher gun laws after the high school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

None of those gun safety bills will pass this year, even though gun reform legislation has the support of 90 percent of Minnesotans.

“It’s very disappointing,” said Sen. Ron Latz (D – St. Louis Park), the author of the gun safety bills.

He says he can’t get a hearing on them and blames outside political pressure.

“The bottom line is that a number of legislators are very nervous, even scared, of the political influence of groups like the NRA in their own districts,” he said.

That’s only one of the very prominent bills that likely won’t survive.

The list includes the “penny a pill” opioid tax on pharmaceutical companies, tougher sexual harassment laws for businesses, and a bill to outlaw handheld cell phones while driving.

Earlier in the session, lawmakers heard emotional testimony from families of people killed by distracted drivers.

But the leading advocate for hands-free cell phone driving says ideology won over public safety.

“I just don’t understand it,” said Rep. Mark Uglem (R –Champlin). “It’s one of those things where I think it’s good politics to pass this bill. There seems to be a feeling among some people in the caucus that we’re just passing another law. That we’re going to infringe on personal liberties. And I say, Balderdash to that!”

Even so, it’s not over ’til it’s over, and lawmakers are always looking for ways to get a vote.

Penny-a-pill supporters, for example, say they’re going to try a different tactic Tuesday.

Their idea? A licensing fee between pharmaceutical companies and the distributor. Still, it’s an uphill fight with little time left.

Pat Kessler

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