Christopher Magan, Pioneer Press, January 8, 2013
Minnesota House Republicans and Senate Democrats released an assortment of legislative ideas Thursday that have potential for both conflict and compromise.
House Republicans, in their newly won majority, have proposed five bills to start the legislative session. They include cutting business taxes; making teacher evaluations part of decisions to cut staff; student loan forgiveness for long-term care workers; redirecting transportation funds at roads and bridges; and changes to MNsure.
Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party members, still in control of the Senate, rolled out six proposals of their own. They include state flood aid; free tuition at state two-year colleges; workforce training partnerships; expansion of preschool; student loan forgiveness for health care professionals in rural communities; and improving the state’s child protection system.
The first pieces of legislation in the House and Senate help illustrate lawmakers’ top priorities in the coming legislative session. Both have some focus on rural Minnesota.
House Speaker Kurt Daudt said their five bills show Republicans want to focus on issues that matter most to Minnesotans.
“We want citizens to drive the agenda at the Capitol,” he said.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk said Democrats want to build on the success of the past two years.
“They are six things we think are important for Minnesota going forward we want to make sure get consideration with the House,” he said.
Senate Democrats plan to release their ideas for improving the state’s roads and bridges next week. They are likely to include revenue increases that Gov. Mark Dayton supports and Republicans oppose.
Daudt said he saw potential to work with DFL senators and their ideas. State Rep. Paul Thissen, the House minority leader, said House Republicans proposals were a “waste of opportunity.”