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2020 MN legislative session begins

ST. PAUL, Minn. (FOX 47) -- It was back to business in St. Paul for lawmakers Tuesday. The 2020 legislative session began.

Before it even started, there are deep divisions on several issues. Perhaps the most contentious is gun control.

"We believe the second amendment and responsible gun ownership can go hand in hand," said Moms Demand Action State Chapter Co-Lead Jessica DeWeerth. "Keep our children and families safe and be safe in a public place.We don't think passing responsible gun legislation affects someone else's second amendment rights!"

"While Moms Demand Action was bragging about 8,700 emails in support of gun control, our members sent in 120,000," said Minnesota Gun Rights Executive Director Ben Door. "We are a massive organization and our membership will come after any lawmakers who support gun control this legislative session."

Another divisive issue is the legalization of marijuana.

Concerned citizen Sammy McCarthy said, "There's a lot of injustice in the system. One way to fix it is to legalize and expunge records. That's so important. There's a lot of good people that are being held back by a 5 year old arrest record."

Some issues are less contentious.

"I'm actually hearing through the grapevine that Democrats might be moving closer to our position and supporting a scholarship program," said House Minority Leader Rep. Kurt Daudt, (R) Crown. "If they are, I think it could be a huge bipartisan breakthrough this session."

Both DFL and Republican lawmakers also agree healthcare should be addressed.

"Prescription drug prices are too high. We need to be bringing those down. We did some good work last year cutting out the middle men, the pharmacy benefit managers," said Sen. Carla Nelson, (R) Rochester. "There will be some new initiatives as well, some from me, that will help with high deductibles that will hold down drug costs as well."

Rochester politicians from both parties also see eye to eye when it comes to Rochester International Airport.

"Our big priority is related to the airport," said Rochester Legislative Policy Analyst Heather Corcoran. "We're hoping to get some money for the runway improvement and some other projects if they can make it across the finish line as well."

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