St. Paul, MN – The bonding bill, minimum wage and tax policy. Those are just some of the issues on the table as the Minnesota 2014 legislative session begins.
“It’s a good day to get started and we’ve got a lot to do so we’re going to be very busy for the next few weeks,” said Representative Jeanne Poppe, a Democrat from Austin.
The sun was shining down on the Minnesota Capitol on opening day of the session.
“I think it’s just particularly exciting. Maybe it’s the winter doldrums, we just need to get into some sort of a sequence here,” said Senator David Senjem, a Republican from Rochester.
Perhaps the sun is a reflection of the energy buzzing inside.
“It’s always exciting to come back on the first day and see familiar faces and get back to the office,” said Representative Kim Norton, a Democrat from Rochester.
Whether Democrat or Republican, it seems all lawmakers can agree on one thing: There’s a lot of work to be done and a lot of hot button issues on the table.
“Well certainly it’s a bonding year and we have the civic center and zip rail projects that are going to be very important to the people in Southern Minnesota,” said Rep. Norton.
“Making sure that our businesses are strong and that we have job production in Southern Minnesota. Not only certainly agriculture but the bio-sciences, medicine, the Hormel Institute,” Senator Senjem said.
“I think this year our number one priority has to be that capitol investment bill . I think that’s very important that we get some projects done of statewide significance. Certainly we’d like to have some local projects included as well, but I think it’s a real opportunity to to keep our economy moving forward and put a lot of people back to work in the state of Minnesota,” said Senator Dan Sparks, a Democrat from Austin.
And learning from past mistakes may be the secret to future success.
“I think last session we saw what happens when bills are rammed through without listening to the minority. Bipartisan ship is the key to good legislation. And the key to getting things done,” said Senator Carla Nelson, a Republican from Rochester.
And that is the goal as the session kicks into high gear.
“It’s going to be fast and furious so we’re going to come here ready to roll up our sleeves and do some good things for the people of the state of Minnesota,” said Senator Sparks
“The public, to stay engaged, they’re going to have to be paying attention because we’ll be moving along quickly,” said Rep. Poppe.
Lawmakers have already made some progress. The House passed a bill that will help Minnesotans who are struggling to pay their heating bills this winter. The Senate is likely to vote on that legislation next week.