ST. PAUL, Minn. - Day one, which was Tuesday, was mainly ceremonial, but some house committees went straight to work on some issues.
Since lawmakers have a shorter session this year, because it's an election year, they have to work swiftly to get things done. With a budget surplus this year of $1.3 billion, some lawmakers are eager to put that money to use. Democrats hold the majority in the house, where representatives heard all of Governor Tim Walz's proposed bonding priorities. The bonding bill is designed to map out state funding and allows the state to borrow money for projects statewide.
The bill includes more than 350 different construction improvement projects. One of them, being the Rochester International Airport. "We have the Rochester International Airport. I'm a supporter of reconstruction of one of the runways that exists there right now - it's passed it's 40 year life expectancy. It's a major construction for our region. It's gonna take a lot of man power to make something like that come together and it's an important piece of infrastructure for not only our region but our entire state as we talk about the transportation needs throughout the state of Minnesota," explained Representative Nels Pierson.
"It's runway is beyond use one of it's major runways and we need to replace that. It's a matter of commerce, it's a matter of jobs and it's a matter of safety. We need to replace that and the feds are going to come in with tens of millions of dollars to support that - we need a little bit of state dollars to get that," said Senator Carla Nelson.
Other topics lawmakers are focused on this session are affordable health care, lowering the price of prescription drugs and safe school funding. "Certainly a bonding bill is gonna be important this year, no question about that," explained Senator David Senjem. "We'll probably work very hard on things like insulin, we'll work hard generally speaking on healthcare. We're gonna work hard on eliminating the social security tax. We have this budget surplus, now we have some possibility doing that. So it will be though trying to find a middle with respect of the house democrats on what we can get done." Senator Nelson said, "I'll be focused on those bipartisan things that work, that build a better Minnesota, that build better futures for all of us."