Budget deal, virtual Legislature might not mix well

Tom Hauser
Updated: April 02, 2021 06:39 PM
Created: April 02, 2021 05:33 PM

Reaching a budget deal at the Minnesota State Capitol is usually a messy affair under the best of circumstances. The 2021 session is not the "best of circumstances." So that could make the end-of-session negotiations more complicated than usual.

DFL House Speaker Melissa Hortman has already decided to complete the House session with most members participating virtually. GOP Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka wants to bring the Senate back in person but is having to settle for a hybrid with some in-person and some virtual.

"I think it's a great detriment to the legislative process to have our representatives not working together," says Republican political analyst Andy Brehm. "This working-from-home movement that people are so fond of I think is terribly detrimental. Legislators need to work together. Need to be able to talk together, look face to face. That's how you negotiate."

It remains to be seen whether the major decision-makers like Hortman, Gazelka and Gov. Tim Walz will meet face to face to negotiate a budget deal. Former DFL Sen. Jeff Hayden of Minneapolis is confident the committee and floor sessions can be done virtually and efficiently. However, he agrees the leaders should figure out a way to meet in person.

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