New Legislature poised to open busy year

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The 2013 Minnesota Legislature gets under way Tuesday with new leaders and a slate of serious issues to tackle in the new year.

The session opens at noon with the oath of office for 199 lawmakers being sworn into their $31,140-a-year jobs. That's two lawmakers short of normal due to two sudden resignations. (The resignations of Rep. Terry Morrow, DFL-St. Peter, and Rep. Steve Gottwalt, R-St. Cloud, became official Monday, MPR reported.)

“It’s like the first day of school,” Sen. Michelle Fischbach, R-Paynesville, told the Associated Press.

Here's a few fast facts about the new session from the Pioneer Press.

For the first time in more than two decades, Democrats will control both chambers of the Legislature with a sitting DFL governor. The first legislation of the year won't be introduced until Thursday, and the DFL's first bills will define its top priorities, the AP noted. Democrats are in control, but not in lockstep, the Star Tribune reports.

The state budget and its projected deficit are expected to command the most attention this year. An online informal Star Tribune poll suggests that's how it should be.

Lawmakers will give early attention to health care issues, specifically, an effort to establish a new health insurance exchange, MPR reported.

Legislative observers are also eager to see how a debate over gay marriage plays out.

Not familiar with daily life at the Legislature? The Star Tribune's Rachel Stassen-Berger hosts a short video with helpful tips for newcomers to the Capitol.

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