2021 Legislative Session Begins With Mostly Virtual Meetings

January 11, 2021

League staff are available to assist city officials who need to visit the Capitol or communicate with legislators.

The 2021 legislative session convened Jan. 5 with 33 newly elected members, new committee structures, a projected deficit for the upcoming 2022-2023 biennium, and the main task of enacting a two-year state budget.

The 2021 Legislature will also begin the process of designing a redistricting plan based upon the results of the 2020 federal census.

Due to the pandemic, the session will start out much the way the 2020 session ended — with a remote hearing protocol. Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka told League staff he wants to return to hybrid, in-person hearings as soon as possible. The House leaders have indicated that they will continue with remote hearings while waiting for more direction from the Department of Health.

Safety protocols at the Capitol

The Minnesota Department of Administration has informed lobbyists and others who work around the Capitol that access to the Capitol Complex will be “significantly limited” to ensure public safety.

The Department of Administration is highly recommending that meetings take place virtually. If in-person meetings are necessary, visitors to the State Office Building (where members of the House of Representatives office) and the Minnesota Senate Office Building will be required to make appointments and will receive escorts at the building entrances.

For safety purposes, League Intergovernmental Relations staff will be observing these protocols. League staff are available to assist city officials who may need to visit the Capitol Complex or communicate with legislators and legislative staff.

Legislature’s members and leadership

The new House members include 21 first-time legislators and two members returning for non-consecutive terms. In the Senate, the 10 new members include two former House members.

The House continues to be controlled by the Democrats with a 70-seat majority, while Republicans occupy 64 seats. Rep. Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park) returns as the speaker of the House, Ryan Winkler (DFL-Golden Valley) will retain the majority leader position, and Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) remains the minority leader.

The Republicans retain control of the Senate with 34 members, while the DFL occupies 31 seats. Two members, Sens. Tom Bakk (I-Cook) and David Tomassoni (I-Chisholm), split to form an independent caucus. Senate Leadership is also unchanged with Sen. Paul Gazeka (R-Nisswa) returning as majority leader, Sen. Jeremy Miller (R-Winona) reelected as Senate president, and Sen. Susan Kent (DFL-Woodbury) continues as minority leader.

The House committee structure has 31 committees and divisions, including a committee to begin the decennial redistricting process. The Senate committee structure has 27 committees and also includes a redistricting committee.

Important dates

The session must conclude by May 17. Other significant dates include Jan. 26, when Gov. Tim Walz must submit budget recommendations to the Legislature.

Around March 1, Minnesota Management and Budget will update the state budget forecast, which will serve as the final forecast for setting the state’s fiscal year 2022-2023 budget.

Over the next few weeks, the House and Senate will establish committee deadlines, likely in March and April, that will govern policy and finance committee work.

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