ST. PAUL, Minn. – The 2018 Minnesota Legislature adjourned for the year late Sunday night. While a capital investment bonding package and a bill to stabilize state employee pensions passed in the final hours, disagreements remained on other topics between the Republican-led Legislature and Gov. Mark Dayton. The most notable divisions involved emergency aid for schools and a package of tax legislation to conform state taxes to recent federal changes.
“I’m pleased we were able to come together and pass a strong bonding bill, including funding for our higher education institutions, investments in clean drinking water, and $18 million for a new Second Harvest Heartland headquarters to help expand their efforts to stop hunger,” said Rep. Laurie Pryor (DFL – Minnetonka). “But I am disappointed that the session concluded without true engagement and compromise on legislation as important as tax conformity and with little or no meaningful progress on critical issues such as the opioid crisis, abuse of seniors and other vulnerable adults, gun violence prevention, and legislation to reduce distracted driving.
“Considering the bipartisan commitment to take action on so many of these problems facing our state, it was disappointing to witness solution after solution fall by the wayside. Common sense, broadly supported proposals like the hands-free cell phone bill and the penny-a-pill fee on opioid painkillers to fund treatment efforts all inexcusably stalled. These were missed opportunities to improve people’s health and safety that must be addressed.”
With the Santa Fe, Texas school shooting occurring during the session’s final week, Rep. Pryor and other legislators were increasingly disappointed that legislation to prevent gun violence was never brought for a vote.
“I’m tired of seeing flags flying at half-mast following these heartbreaking tragedies, and I join with other Minnesotans deeply disheartened that no gun safety legislation was passed,” Rep. Pryor said. “I know we can’t stop every tragedy, but steps like background checks and red-flag laws are proven, effective tools to stop dangerous individuals from accessing guns. People will continue to demand change and as they continue to mobilize, I’m confident we will see action in the future.”
Rep. Pryor also renewed calls for reforming the legislative process itself, calling for earlier bill deadlines and more time required between a bill being finalized and when it’s brought up for a vote.
“Saturday night the Republicans’ nearly-1,000 page spending bill was dropped on our desks by their leadership just a few hours before we were expected to vote on it, with little opportunity to fully comprehend the contents,” Rep. Pryor said. “Minnesotans deserve an effective, accountable government, but it’s extremely difficult to deliver positive outcomes when business is conducted like this. I know there are better ways, and I’ll be pushing to adopt them.”
The 2019 session will convene Tuesday, January 8 at noon.