MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) –The 2019 Minnesota Legislature got off to a fast start at the State Capitol in St. Paul Tuesday.

The House and Senate were called to order at high noon. Democrats take control of the House, and Republicans have a narrow majority in the Senate.

Minnesota has the only divided legislature in the entire United States. But Republicans and Democrats are promising to end the political gridlock that gripped the Capitol for the last few years.

Minnesota lawmakers took their oaths of office surrounded by family during a day of ceremony and celebration. The new Democratic House Majority elected Melissa Hortman as speaker — the second-most powerful elective office in the state.

Hortman calling for an end to the divisive politics that gripped the Capitol in recent years.

“The campaign is over. It’s time to take off the blue jerseys and the red jerseys,” Hortman said. “And it’s our job to govern here together as Team Minnesota.”

The Senate is controlled by Republicans, who unveiled a series of bills they will take up immediately. There are new initiatives on child care, mental health and tax conformity.

“Child Care, mental health, health care costs and tax conformity. Those are issues that we hope reflect this statement,” said Sen. Paul Gazelka / (R) Majority Leader. “We want people to know that the Senate Republicans are people who care, with ideas that work.”

A sign of things to come? Multiple protests by gun safety advocates, calling for tougher Minnesota gun laws. Lawmakers were confronted outside the House Chamber by a gun rights supporter.

“That’s what’s happening here! Radical gun control!” said a gun rights supporter.

The new Democratic governor, Tim Walz, was sworn in Monday. He is also promising cooperation. On Wednesday, House Democrats outline their top 10 bills of the year. And we will get a good roadmap of just how this 2019 session might go.

Pat Kessler

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