Minnesota Legislature passes just 1 budget bill before end of session

Lawmakers will need to complete the work in a special session.
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With an overall spending deal agreed to by Legislative leaders and Gov. Tim Walz Sunday, lawmakers had just a day to wrap up the 2019 Legislative session.

When the session was adjourned at 11:59 p.m. Monday, they'd agreed on just one of the key budget bills needed to make up the state's two-year budget. Meaning lawmakers will continue working this week, with sights set on an upcoming special session to complete everything.

So how did things go from "agreed," to many budget bills not getting done?

This was expected, kind of. When the spending agreement was announced Sunday, lawmakers acknowledged a short, one-day special session would be needed to wrap things up.

But getting party members onboard proved to be tricky.

The Star Tribune says Republicans and DFLers were "still debating dozens of policy disagreements on contentious issues" Monday, including paid medical leave, abortion and guns.

And as MPR points out, they "made little apparent progress" on reaching satisfactory deals. Meaning when this special session occurs, and how long it lasts, is up in the air.

Still, some leaders remained enthusiastic.

"The work is going very well. Many of the bills have wrapped up," said Rep. Melissa Hortman, DFL speaker of the house, adding the party feels "really good about this legislative session."

When a reporter pointed out most of the work hasn't been done, she replied: "There's a lot of work left to do but I would say there is a lot of work that is completed."

Said Republican Paul Gazelka, the Senate majority leader, according to InForum: "Just getting through the process, it always takes longer than we think in divided government." 

Some were less enthusiastic.

"This session ended with a whimper," Senate DFL Leader Tom Bakk said in a brief statement.

House Minority Leader Republica Kurt Daudt, to reporters, said Minnesotans "should be ashamed of the process at the end of this Legislative session." He also expressed doubt things could be completed

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So what did get done?

The House and Senate both approved a higher education bill, which will go to Walz for a signature. They also approved a bill to address the cost of the opioid crisis, requiring drug makers and distributors to pay more than $20 million annually in fees.

And what didn't get done?

Most of the omnibus budget bills, including: environment and natural resources, public safety, agriculture, health and human services, taxes, state government and transportation.

If lawmakers and the governor can't get all of this done by June 30, the state faces a partial government shut down.

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