New Republican caucus making waves in Minn. House

January 18, 2019 11:06 PM

The Minnesota House of Representatives is often known for political infighting. However, it's usually between Democrats and Republicans. Now it is Republicans vs. Republicans.

"We are our own caucus," says Rep. Steve Drazkowski, (R) Mazeppa. "We're the New Republican House Caucus."

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Drazkowski spoke at a news conference Friday where his four-member "New House Republican Caucus" held their own briefing to respond to a DFL House Caucus news briefing on their top legislative priorities.

Drazkowski and three other Republicans, Rep. Cal Bahr of East Bethel, Rep. Jeremy Munson of Lake Crystal and Rep. Tim Miller of Prinsburg broke away from the tradition GOP caucus before the session began. Drazkowski says the split is more about disagreements with how the old caucus is run and less about significant differences in ideology.

"We certainly had some differing opinons from some of the direction the other caucus was going," Drazkowski said at a news conference last week, pointing to the loss of the Republican House majority as evidence.


More from KSTP:

House DFL unveils priorities for legislative session


"To a lot of people this is a pretty radical step, and it is," Miller said. "I don't think we took our marbles and left ... What we view it as is an opportunity to listen to the people of Minnesota and we want to fundamentally change the culture of government like the people have asked."

While the New Republican caucus will likely provide it's own separate response to DFL legislation and other issues, but House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt says it won't likely change votes on major issues among the 59 House Republicans.

"I think when Democrats vote to raise health care costs or vote to raise taxes on Minnesotans there's still going to be 59 votes against that every time," Daudt said.  "Our hope is they rejoin our caucus at some point and we're certainly striving towards that."

Democrats have 75 seats in their majority caucus and have made accommodations for the breakaway Republican caucus members to get separate staff and office space.

 

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Tom Hauser

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