Budget, economic recovery among new legislative session priorities

A new year means a new legislative session at the Minnesota State Capitol.

Lawmakers will return Tuesday and, from addressing a deficit to the effects of COVID-19, already have a lot on their plates.

The capital will start another session split, with the DFL continuing to control the House and the Senate still in control by the GOP.

For the first time, the session will start in the midst of a pandemic. That will both create challenges and opportunities for easier legislating, as lawmakers meet virtually.

Minnesota’s 2021 legislative session won’t be like any other

Priorities during this session include the budget, economic recovery, and the governor’s emergency powers.

From the start of the pandemic, GOP lawmakers have been pushing to have more of a say before Gov. Tim Walz creates new laws.

Walz’s fellow DFLers say they feel it’s best to first take time to weigh legislation in order for important decisions to then happen quickly.

"The legislature does not work at that speed," Rep. Melissa Hortman (DFL) said. "Having hearings, having a bunch of testifiers doesn’t make sense. The governor needs to … start solving problems right away."

Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt said, “I think it’s silly that issues like this have become so partisan and it’s even more silly that the governor can defend, for some reason, that he doesn’t need to work with the legislature like it’s some hurdle he’d have to jump through. And to state there’s an emergency is just as foolish.”

While most legislative work will be done virtually, there will be times when certain committees will meet on the floor.

Leaders say they hope enough people will become vaccinated by the end of the five-month session to wrap up mostly in person.

To make this session even more unique, the capitol remains closed to the public and is still surrounded by a fence.

The 2021 session kicks off at noon.