2019 Legislature Convenes with New Power Structure
The sound of a gavel marked the official start of the 2019 legislative session at noon on Tuesday.
For DFL Representative Mike Freiberg of Golden Valley, it was his sixth opening day at the state legislature.
“It’s a lot of fun. It kind of reminds you what an honor it is to serve in this office,” Rep. Freiberg said.
For Republican Representative Kristin Robbins of Maple Grove, it was his her first opening day.
“You know, I’m really excited and humbled, overwhelmed with the honor of serving in this position,” Rep. Robbins said.
It’s an occasion where members from both parties can enjoy the celebration and paint a positive picture of what lies ahead in the legislature.
“This morning I walked in with a few of my Democrat freshman friends, and I feel like we developed good relationships and will work hard to work together,” Rep. Robbins said.
Robbins says that’s especially true for issues related to transportation and education, but there are issues where she won’t budge.
“In general, I’m a fiscal conservative,” she said. “And with a $1.5 billion surplus, I don’t believe in any tax increases, so I will be trying to hold the line on any effort to expand government or increase taxes.
A New Era
For Rep. Feiberg, this session marks a new era where his party controls both the House and the governor’s office.
But with the Senate still in Republican control, both sides will have to find common ground.
“The early signs I would say are positive,” Rep. Freiberg said. “You know, I’m sure there will be points of disagreement. I’m sure they will probably get heated at times. But at least at this time, Speaker Hortman, Senate Majority Leader Gazelka, have indicated a willingness to work together.”
The parties will have until May 20 to put together a nearly $50 billion dollar, two-year budget, that funds education, health care and public safety.
Exactly how they’ll pay for all of it is the big question.
One thing they do know is that the northwest metro has a number of representatives among House leadership in charge of making it happen at the legislature.
“I’m really optimistic we will be able to work together,” Rep. Robbins said.
Meanwhile, Mike Freiberg said some of the things to keep an eye on this session will be finding a dedicated source of revenue to pay for roads, bridges and transit.
Also, with the Affordable Care Act under threat at the federal level, he expects the state to look at ways to protect people with pre-existing conditions, and also help young people stay on their parents’ insurance.