Governor Tim Walz, along with Senate DFL Leader Tom Bakk, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, Speaker Melissa Hortman, and House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt participated in the annual State Capitol Forum News Service’s press briefing earlier this week. The leaders were optimistic about passing a number of bills that have bipartisan support fairly early in the session.
Some of the issues leaders agreed could gain early passage include legislation dealing with opioid addiction, elder abuse, and distracted driving. Other legislation such as Restore the Vote, new gun laws, and tax conformity may take more time.
The leaders discussed the likelihood of passing tax conformity this session. Senator Bakk emphasized the DFL Senate is committed to passing a version of tax conformity that does not jeopardize Minnesota’s long-term fiscal stability for the sake of short-term funding.
There were differing views on passing new gun laws. DFL leaders and Governor Walz support background checks on most gun purchases and closing the so-called gun show loophole which allows patrons attending gun shows to sell guns to each other without background checks. Only dealers at gun shows are currently required to run a background check when selling a gun at the event.
Governor Walz and DFL leaders expressed support for restoring the vote while Republicans were lukewarm about the proposal. Minnesotans currently lose the right to vote until they have been released from supervision, including while they are living in the community, even if they never spent any time in prison or only served a short jail sentence.