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2022 Minnesota Legislative Session Begins Monday

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) -- Minnesota's 2022 Legislative Session begins Monday at noon.

Lawmakers will be working with a $7.7 billion budget surplus. Both Republicans and Democrats say they want to do something about public safety.

Another one of the DFL priorities is to legalize recreational marijuana. They also want safe housing for people who are homeless.

The GOP says its number one priority this session is reducing crime. They also want to focus on education and permanent tax relief.

Gov. Tim Walz has proposed a supplemental budget. It has a spending plan focused on children and families. It makes up more than $5 billion over three years.

Another proposal would send checks of $175 or $350 to more than 2 million Minnesota families.

Minnesota Republicans want to give that money back to Minnesota families in the form of permanent tax cuts.

Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller and DFL House Speaker Melissa Hortman weighed in on WCCO Sunday Morning.

"We're looking at tax cuts for middle class families and also assisting with child care and making sure that they have affordable access to health care and to housing," Hortman said. "These are all things that families are struggling with right now."

"Instead of a one-time gimmick from the governor, Senate Republicans are focused on permanent, ongoing tax relief so working Minnesotans see more money in their pocket every single paycheck, week after week, month after month, year after year," Miller said. "And as you mentioned we are going to propose the elimination of social security taxes."

The governor has also proposed a record $2.7 billion bonding package. It focuses on local jobs and projects. Bonding packages require a three-fifths majority to pass, making support from the minority party essential in each chamber.

Walz's plan includes hundreds of millions of dollars for local law enforcement agencies.

House Democrats released a $100 million public safety package. Half of the money is set aside to pay for hiring beat cops and bolstering investigations.

Senate Republican proposals are pushing for mandatory minimums and limiting prosecutor discretion to ignore low-level crimes. The proposals also emphasize recruiting and retaining more officers through bonuses, pension reforms and college scholarships.

"If someone breaks the law, there should be consequences. And this is going to take efforts from public officials at all levels," Miller said. "It's important that we take public safety very, very seriously. Equally as important is we work together towards solutions to address the out of control crime that's happening across the Twin Cities metropolitan area."

"Investing in law enforcement, giving them increased tools to more effectively apprehend and solve these crimes," Hortman said. "But also to invest in community, because we know that there are things that we can invest in in the community that reduce crime going forward."

The legislative session will look different again this time due to pandemic restrictions.

The Senate will hold hybrid hearings, with options for lawmakers and the public to attend virtually or in person. House committee hearings will nearly all be held virtually.

The public can access hearings remotely on the legislature's website.

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