Jan 3, 2023 - Politics

Minnesota Legislature: Democrats seize full control as 2023-2024 session begins

Illustration of the Minnesota State Capitol with lines radiating from it.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The Minnesota Legislature gavels in for its latest two-year session on Tuesday, bringing new power — and plenty of new faces — to the state Capitol.

State of play: For the first time since 2014, Democrats have control of both chambers and the governor's office.

The big picture: Expect a lot more action than in recent sessions, when the divided Legislature remained at an impasse on many issues.

What they're saying: Top Democrats have pledged action on proposals that stalled under the divided government, including abortion rights, gun control, paid family leave and marijuana legalization.

Reality check: One-party control doesn't mean all Democrats and their allies will see their full wish lists delivered.

  • Given the narrow majorities, deals will hinge on getting support from both progressives and moderates. And there's plenty of disagreement within DFL ranks.

For example: Gov. Tim Walz wants to revive his plan to use part of the surplus for direct payments to Minnesotans. But DFL leaders gave the idea a lukewarm reception last month.

Who we're watching: The Senate's four "majority makers" — Democrats who won close races to seal the DFL trifecta — could stick together on issues where there's a split within the DFL, such as a full repeal of state taxes on Social Security income.

The other side: Two new GOP leaders — House Minority Leader Lisa DeMuth and Senate Minority Leader Mark Johnson — have pledged to oppose tax increases.

  • But both will face the challenge of keeping their caucuses relevant — and their voices heard — in a Legislature where their votes aren't needed on most issues.

What to expect: DFL leaders say they'll try to move quickly on some priorities, including legislation adding the right to abortion into state law.

  • But many big decisions will likely still be wrapped into the late-session sprint to finish the budget before the Legislature adjourns in May.

More complicated issues, including full legalization of marijuana, could be carried over into 2024.


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