New session in divided Minnesota legislature begins Tuesday

January 08, 2019 11:48 AM

Health care and funding for state roads are among the top issues lawmakers will address as they begin a new session Tuesday.

The new session begins a day after Gov. Tim Walz took office.

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RELATED: Tim Walz sworn in as Minnesota governor

Walz is facing working with the only divided legislature in the country.

Walz has said he wants to invest more money into education and health care. However, a significant divide on those topics is expected between the chambers.

Walz said his "One Minnesota" approach will help bridge the gap.

"He argues that what's good for a small town in Minnesota is also good for Minneapolis and he is going to try to emphasize those unifying themes as governor," political analyst Steven Schier said.

Schier said the governor avoided some of the more divisive issues in Monday's inaugural address.

However, as the session begins, Walz will face opposition from the other side of the aisle.

Issues like transportation funding, gun control and recreational marijuana could turn into heated battles in the coming months.

The new governor said it's time to tackle those differences head on.

"When our state has faced big challenges in the past, we've always met them with a unique innovative spirit that allowed us to not only fix the problems but lead the nation," Walz said. "We must again find opportunities in these challenges."

Republican leaders in the Senate announced their first five bills of the new session at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.

According to Senate leaders, access to mental health resources, accessible and affordable child care, lower health care costs, fraud elimination, and a simpler tax code are their five top legislative priorities.

"Republicans' first five bills this year are focused on making life easier for families across the state," Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka said in a statement. "We've heard from Minnesotans that they are struggling to afford child care and health care, want better mental health resources, and are concerned about government transparency and accountability, so these issues will be our top priorities as we put together the next state budget."

Democrats are expected to announce their top legislation later this week.

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Alex Jokich & Rebecca Omastiak

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