DFL leader urges GOP to skip hot-button ballot questionsby Elizabeth Dunbar, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Republicans remain in control of both the House and Senate when the Legislature convenes starting today, and DFL members say they hope their focus will be on job creation.
That's because several Republican proposals for constitutional amendments are likely to come up during the 2012 legislative session, including one requiring voters to show photo ID at the polls and another requiring a super majority to raise taxes.
DFL Minority Leader Paul Thissen of Minneapolis says the session will be more productive if lawmakers stay away from those issues.
"If we go down that path things become much more difficult and contentious just because people have strongly held beliefs on those things," he said. "So I think we can best work together if we're focused on these basic bread and butter middle class issues. A bonding bill fits within that context as well, and then we can get done, and I think that's what the people of Minnesota want."
DFL Gov. Mark Dayton has proposed a $775 million bonding bill that he says would result in the hiring of more than 20,000 people for the public works projects.
Meantime, Republican leaders have said they want to adjourn by the end of April, and DFL Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk says he thinks work could be completed by Easter.
One reason some lawmakers will be anxious to get home is to get to know their districts before this fall's elections. Redistricting maps following the 2010 census are expected in February from a special court panel, and there could be some big changes.
Thissen says it's too early to be thinking about adjournment.
"I don't think that should be a reason to distract us from the work we need to do to on getting the jobs going, getting property tax relief out to middle class families," he said. "I don't think it's a reason in itself to finish the session early so people can get back. I think the focus ought to be getting what Minnesotans need and want done."
(Thissen was interviewed on MPR's Morning Edition.)