Local Lawmakers Say Budget Top Priority in Legislative Session
Lawmakers, including a couple new ones representing the northwest suburbs, convened for the start of the 2021 legislative session.
While the session will be overshadowed by COVID-19, a big task for legislators is striking a compromise on a new two-year budget.
“Because of all the closed businesses that generate revenue out of sales tax and other revenue methods, our revenue stream is smaller than what we need to keep government going at the current rate,” said Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove.
“We’ve seen a lot of disparity, uncovered and exasperated during this pandemic. So, the most important thing is that through this budget we can get the resources to the people that need it the most,” said Rep. Cedrick Frazier, DFL-New Hope.
Governor’s Emergency Powers Also a Talking Point
Another issue this legislative session, at least for Republican legislators, will be Minnesota Governor Tim Walz’s use of executive orders in response to the pandemic. Walz has used his executive authority to implement restrictions at bars and restaurants over the past several months.
Republican lawmakers want to end those powers. They want more say in how the state handles the virus. But Democrats say the powers are needed to quickly respond to the pandemic.
“The Republicans are going to ask us to that and I support the governor so I probably won’t be working with the Republicans on that,” said Sen. Ann Johnson Stewart, DFL-Plymouth. “But there’s certainly some things we can work with the Republicans to loosen up the economy and I’ll be open to doing that.”
The 2021 legislative session won’t be anything like normal because the House will meet virtually during the pandemic. The Senate will try a hybrid approach with a combination of virtual and in-person sessions.
The Minnesota state Capitol is still fenced off and closed to the public.