Nov 10, 2022 - Politics

What Minnesota Democrats may do with their new "trifecta"

Illustration of a donkey with ballot elements that are distorted and wavy behind it

Illustration: Axios Visuals

Top Minnesota Democrats pledged Wednesday to use their new "trifecta" at the State Capitol to revive progressive proposals that stalled under the previously politically divided government.

The big picture: The DFL's surprise sweep of state government will give the party full power over spending the record surplus and passing policies when the Legislature returns in January.

What they're saying: "Last night's vote was not just a pat on the back, it was a mission order going forward," Gov. Tim Walz told reporters. "It was about a vision about what we can do."

Zoom in: Leaders said it would be "premature" to outline an agenda before the new caucuses meet for the first time. But lawmakers floated potential plans, including an increase in school funding, legalizing marijuana and eliminating the Social Security tax.

  • "We talked on the campaign trail about paid family leave, about codifying Roe v. Wade," outgoing DFL Leader Melisa Lopez Franzen told reporters. "Those are things that you can probably assume are going to be on the docket at some point."
  • House Speaker Melissa Hortman pledged action on health care, gun violence and climate change in an early morning address to supporters.

Walz, meanwhile, said public safety and alleviating the impact of inflation will be priorities. He also mentioned red flag laws.

Yes, but: Majorities don't guarantee passage, even for proposals that have strong support among the DFL base.

  • With narrow majorities in both chambers, leaders will have to reach an agreement among members from ideologically and geographically diverse regions of the state.

Between the lines: Senate leaders said Minnesotans demonstrated a desire for united government but stopped short of declaring a broad mandate to govern from the left.

  • "They gave us a trifecta with wider margins back in 2012," Lopez Franzen said. "This looks slimmer, that tells us we need to be tempered, but it also tells us they want us to work together."

What to watch: Senate Democrats meet today to pick a new majority leader to replace Lopez Franzen, who decided not to run after redistricting left her in the same seat as a fellow Democrat.

  • Sen. Erin Murphy, the caucus campaign chair, is widely seen as a likely contender.
  • She declined to comment on her plans Wednesday, calling leadership decisions an "internal discussion."

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