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Legislative Leaders Hope To Hash Out 'Hero Pay' As Session Begins

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- There was supposed to be a special legislative session last fall to provide hero pay for front-line workers, but that never happened.

The DFL and Republicans couldn't agree on a plan. The DFL wanted to spread the $250 million over a wide range of workers, including health care workers, teachers and grocery store employees. That would mean a check for several hundred dollars for each worker. Republicans wanted to give bigger checks, about $1,500 to health care workers.

Now with a $7.7 billion surplus, the governor and DFL House Speaker Melissa Hortman want to increase the pool of money to $1 billion, sending larger checks to that larger pool of workers.

Republican leaders, including the new Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller, are still talking about a smaller pool of money, with bigger checks going out. Hortman and Miller were guests on WCCO Sunday Morning.

DFL House Speaker Melissa Hortman and GOP Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller
DFL House Speaker Melissa Hortman and GOP Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller (credit: CBS)

"We should give $1,500 per person in that front-line worker pool," Hortman said. "That's 667,000 people who went to work when COVID struck and provided for us."

"Senate Republicans remain committed to finding a solution to the front-line workers who took the most risk during the pandemic to help keep Minnesotans safe and healthy," Miller said. "That's predominantly health care workers and first responders."

Another stumbling block last fall was Republicans threatening to bring Walz's trusted Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm before the Senate and vote against her in a confirmation hearing, effectively firing her. Miller said that option of firing Malcolm is still on the table.

You can watch WCCO Sunday Morning every Sunday at 6, 7 and 10:30 a.m.

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