Minnesota House leaders reflect on ‘historic’ 2023 legislative session

Minnesota Rep. Jamie Long (left) and Rep. Lisa Demuth (right)
Minnesota Rep. Jamie Long (left) and Rep. Lisa Demuth (right)(Quinn Gorham)
Published: Jun. 7, 2023 at 5:59 PM CDT
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ST. PAUL, Minn. (GRAY) - According to both political parties, the 2023 legislative session in St. Paul was historic. While the two sides disagree on it’s impact, the sheer number of bills passed in a short amount of time already has the DFL looking back with rose-tinted glasses.

In a series of sit down interviews, House Majority Leader Jamie Long (DFL - Minneapolis) and House Minority Leader Lisa Demuth (R - Cold Spring) shared their thoughts on the session now that the legislature sits in interim.

“It was a historic session, I think by any measure. We really helped focus on two things, letting Minnesotans afford their lives, and trying to make sure we were tackling some of the challenges that had been neglected with the gridlock that we’d faced for many years,” said Long.

Long was asked whether it was a good feeling to finally move some of the bills they’d been working on after years of gridlock.

“It was incredible. We had past priorities that some had been waiting 15, 20 years,” said Long.

The DFL grabbed hold of its first legislative trifecta in 8 years last November, paving the way for a slew of legislation from the party.

While the policy that was passed was popular among the DFL, House Republicans felt very differently about it.

Demuth was asked about her thoughts on the session as a whole.

“It’s a great question and one that I’m hearing every place that I’ve been so far in the few days since session ended. This legislative session went incredibly quickly. Things moved fast,” she said, “Laws were put into place, bills moved through. But there was a lot that was done; some good, and some very concerning, I think our state is going to look quite a bit different with what was passed.”

Demuth and the rest of the House Republicans say they felt left behind by the full-speed-ahead approach Minnesota Democrats took.

“We weren’t necessarily given the proper amount of time in all the committees to ask questions. It felt like it was just kind of pushed to the side a little bit. They were going to do what they were going to do. We offered amendments, but they weren’t really accepted. And so I think our voice was minimally heard and definitely not taken into consideration,” she said.

Long and the DFL disagree.

“I absolutely do [think we heard them]. I think that there’s a lot of focus oftentimes, on the more contentious issues, the ones where there’s bigger divisions, but we passed dozens of bills that were unanimous. We passed dozens more tha had GOP support, even if we didn’t have the full support of the caucus,” he said.

One of those bills was a 2.6 billion dollar bonding package that was blocked for months by the Senate GOP, but with just 2 days to go until the end of the session, that bill went through with bipartisan support due to a last minute agreement between parties.

That agreement featured an additional $300 million dollars to appease Republicans.

“I’m very happy with that deal and how it ended up. The only thing I would have liked is to have had nursing home funding earlier. And it should have been more,” said Demuth.

The sentiment was shared across the aisle.

“I was really glad we were able to reach an agreement. It’s better that we’re able to fund some of those long-term infrastructure projects. With bonding, that’s a good way to pay for them over time, rather than doing it one time. But I’ll say I was a little disappointed that we weren’t able to do that earlier in the session,” Long said.

A few weeks removed from the Session, both parties recognize its historic value, albeit in different ways.

“I really think that the legacy of full democratic control in the state of Minnesota will have a number of negative consequences for years to come,” said Demuth

“I do think that this session is going to be one for the history books, I think this is one that folks are going to hopefully look back on with a lot of pride,” said Long