2024 legislative session begins with multiple controversial issues on the docket

2024 legislative session begins

2024 legislative session begins

The 2024 Minnesota legislative session is officially underway, and lawmakers largely picked up where they left off last year.

Lawmakers disagreed on a number of issues, including legislation impacting school resource officers and several others.

There is a much smaller state budget surplus this year compared to last year’s nearly $18 billion. However, this is not a “budget year,” so much of the focus will be on a bonding bill for state building projects and some controversial policy issues.

Gov. Tim Walz welcomed lawmakers back by handing out homemade apple blondie bars. That was a rare moment of bipartisanship as Republicans soon moved to take quick action on controversial issues.

House Minority Leader Lisa Demuth, R-Cold Spring, tried to slow down an “end-of-life” bill regarding the terminally ill and called for quick action on a school resource officer bill. Both attempts failed.

“What we brought forward today were priorities that are faced by Minnesotans. Specifically the school resource officer issue, and to know that went down on party lines except for one vote is really frustrating,” Demuth said.

Republicans plan to highlight for voters what it means when Democrats control all of state government. DFL House Speaker Melissa Hortman says the election can wait.

“While we’re here, we’ll focus on doing good work for the people of Minnesota and we’ll worry about the election later,” said Hortman.

One issue that will need bipartisan support to pass is a sports betting bill.

“There are Democrats and Republicans who would like to pass a sports betting bill. There are Democrats and Republicans who oppose passing a sports betting bill. I think the people who are in support are having good conversations together so I’m hopeful they’ll come to an agreement we can get passed,” Hortman added.

If it does pass, Gov. Walz says he will sign it.

“It seems to me this is probably the year to talk about that in a non-budget year. They’ve done a lot of work in the past. I think we know where the bottlenecks are,” Walz said.

One controversial bill got a lukewarm reception on opening day.

The proposal to make Minnesota a “sanctuary state” for undocumented immigrants is unlikely to pass this year. Hortman doesn’t think it has enough support because there are too many unknowns about the bill.