MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota’s 2020 Legislative Session went out with a whimper late Sunday night.
Lawmakers failed to agree on an all-important bonding bill that would fund hundreds of construction projects around the state and create thousands of jobs.
Without naming him, Democratic leaders and Gov. Tim Walz placed the blame on Republican House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, who at one point said he wouldn’t agree to a bonding bill unless the governor gave up his COVID-19 emergency powers.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka expressed optimism that a deal can happen in the June 12 special session.
“I’m hopeful for the future,” Gazelka said. “If we hadn’t had COVID, I think all of the things would have … happened at the end.”
Rep. Daudt is also upbeat.
“We are going to have three works to work on things, and hopefully we can come together on a bunch of issues and pass a bonding bill,” Daudt said.
Legislative leaders and the governor did praise the early weeks of the session, when unprecedented cooperation lead to $500 million in emergency COVID-19 funding and a few signature bills, including a deal for emergency insulin and a tobacco 21 bill which bars the sale of all nicotine and vaping products to those under 21.
“I do think it is worth noting much was accomplished,” Walz said. “During the session, together, we have taken steps that hadn’t been asked of leaders in the state before, and we did it together.”
One key issue from the session is apparently in legal limbo: The status of pay raises for Minnesota’s 50,000 state workers. While the House and Senate did not agree on the issue, the raises may still go into effect because they were negotiated last year. An announcement on the fate of those raises is expected in the next day or two.
Another issue expected to dominate the June special session is who should have oversight over the $2 billion in COVID-19 relief money that the state is getting from the federal government.