January 08, 2019 03:13 PM
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - The Latest on the first day of Minnesota's 2019 legislative session (all times local):
The 2019 Minnesota Legislature is in session.
The House and its new Democratic majority were called to order around noon Tuesday, while the Senate, where Republicans hold a two-vote majority, convened soon afterward. The opening day floor sessions were devoted to formalities and organizational matters, including the election of Democrat Melissa Hortman as House speaker.
Dozens of red-shirted gun control advocates from Moms Demand Action and other groups packed the halls outside the House and Senate chambers, handing out chocolate-chip cookies to lawmakers.
Meanwhile, new Democratic Gov. Tim Walz told reporters he's ready to cooperate with lawmakers from both parties. He said he found some things to agree with in five-bill package announced by Senate Republicans earlier in the day, and is ready to find common ground where they disagree.
Gun control advocates are rallying at the Minnesota Capitol to demand that lawmakers pass two bills to reduce gun violence.
Moms Demand Action and allied groups held a news conference Tuesday to call for lawmakers to pass mandatory background checks for all gun purchasers and a "red flag" law that would let families and police seek court orders to temporarily remove guns from suicidal people or those who endanger others.
Incoming speaker Melissa Hortman vowed the new Democratic House majority will pass those bills. She told a roomful of red-shirted activists she'll rely on them to help get the bills through the GOP-controlled Senate and signed by Democratic Gov. Tim Walz.
Bob Mokos of the Everytown Survivor Network says lawmakers who oppose them will face challengers in 2020.
Minnesota Senate Republican leaders say the first five bills they'll introduce this session will stress the needs of families.
At a news conference Tuesday, they said their bills will strengthen mental health programs for students and farmers, make child care more accessible and affordable by reducing regulations on providers, and seek to lower health care costs. They'll also seek to reduce child care fraud, and stop waste in the state's information technology programs. And they'll seek to bring Minnesota's tax code into sync with the new federal tax law.
Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka says details will be fleshed out in the committee process.
Gazelka says his discussions with incoming Democratic House speaker Melissa Hortman and new Gov. Tim Walz make him optimistic for a fresh start.
Democrats will take control of the Minnesota House when the 2019 Legislature convenes at noon.
Democrats gained 18 seats in the November elections to win the House with a 75-59 majority.
Senate Republicans hold a narrow two-seat majority going into the session. Their leaders plan a news conference Tuesday morning to unveil their first five bills of the session. They say family priorities will be at the center.
House Democratic leaders plan to unveil their first 10 bills Wednesday.
Gun control supporters plan to rally in the Capitol Rotunda Tuesday afternoon. They're backing background checks on all gun sales and a "red flag" law that would let families and police go to court to temporarily take guns away from people who are a danger to themselves or others.
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Updated: January 08, 2019 03:13 PM
Created: January 08, 2019 11:01 AM
(Copyright 2019 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)