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Crunch time at the state capitol: What's left in the Minnesota Legislature before adjournment next week

Plenty of work left during last week of Minnesota Legislature
Plenty of work left during last week of Minnesota Legislature 02:31

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Minnesota Legislature has less than a week left to complete its work before lawmakers must adjourn next Monday and the desired to-do list from Democrats in charge is still long, despite the clock winding down. 

Among those bills still under discussion and subject to negotiation: Rideshare regulations mandating certain driver pay; cannabis law updates; an equal rights constitutional amendment; sports gambling and a bonding bill funding infrastructure projects that needs GOP support in the DFL-led capitol.

Lawmakers are also reconciling differences between House and Senate versions of supplemental spending packages and policy bills related to elections, education, transportation and more. 

"DFL majorities in the House and Senate remain committed to completing the work Minnesotans sent us here to do," said Senate Majority Leader Erin Murphy, DFL-St. Paul, in a statement Tuesday. "Republicans have jeopardized the completion of important work by intentionally throwing up roadblocks and delays on the floor, in negotiations, and again today by attempting to score political points with the press and public."

Murphy's comments follow a news conference from GOP leaders in both chambers Tuesday who criticized Democrats for their end-of-session approach and said they were being left out of negotiations on key issues. 

They shared a list of requests in exchange for their support for a bonding agreement, including that Democrats refuse to take up the ERA, boost funding for emergency medical services and overhaul a bill that increases penalties for straw gun purchases.

Republicans on Monday prolonged debate on bills for more than 11 hours, forcing a delayed vote on the Equal Rights Amendment and other controversial bills that were placed on the calendar.

"Republicans do represent millions of Minnesotans and their voice deserves to be heard," said House Minority Leader Lisa Demuth, R-Cold Spring. "Legislating is not supposed to be at the tyranny of the majority. It is supposed to reflect the values of all Minnesotans."

The heated, indirect exchange between leadership comes just days before May 20, the constitutional end date for the session. But bills must pass off the floor by 11:59 p.m. Sunday — and lawmakers only have a handful of "legislative days" when they're allowed to vote on bills left before then. 

 A three-fifths majority is needed to pass a bonding bill, which requires Republican buy-in. Senate Minority Leader Mark Johnson, R-East Grand Forks, said Tuesday that Republicans and Democrats are trading offers. The GOP wants the package capped at $860 million, while Democrats are seeking $930 million. 

"Bipartisanship is going to be a spoonful of sugar that makes this whole intersession go down. And we can make that happen," Johnson said.

Democrats remain open to more money to shore up EMS, Murphy continued in a statement, but it appears unlikely that they would concede to any other demands from GOP lawmakers.

"Earlier today, Leaders Demuth and Johnson indicated they would provide the handful of votes needed to pass a capital investment bill in exchange for two simple things: total control of the legislative agenda and the return of partisan gridlock. Neither is acceptable," she said. 

The ERA, sports gambling and a bill that would allow more cities to pass ranked choice voting in local elections are eligible for a vote in the House on Wednesday. In the Senate, there's a slate of policy bills related to elections, commerce and restrictions on "junk fees" on the agenda.

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