The 2019 Minnesota Legislative session certainly wasn't perfect, but what session could ever be called perfect? It still ended in yet-another "special" session, an occurrence that has become so commonplace at the State Capitol in St. Paul that it should be called something else, like an "unspecial" session.
Maybe the best label to attach to the 2019 session, which involved a DFL governor, a DFL-led House and a Republican-led Senate, is that it was an improvement. It was an improvement on previous sessions that literally had people running around frantically in the final minutes and seconds before the statutorily required adjournment deadline, and legislators being asked to vote on bills they knew little about that also happened to be about as thick as War and Peace. Those scenes had been repeated at the end of too many sessions of late, and it had become more than disappointing, it was embarrassing.
But first-term Gov. Tim Walz, a superior communicator to his predecessor, DFLer Mark Dayton, was able to rally the troops to the cause. Walz also gave up a lot of what he previously described as his core priorities, in order to get Senate Republicans to let go of some of their earlier demands. Walz didn't get his gas tax increase, which has to be discouraging to proponents of a quality infrastructure who will continue to wonder how much longer roads and bridges in Minnesota will be allowed to deteriorate. But he was able to secure a much larger public education funding increase than Republicans wanted, and he kept most of his health care tax, which was set to expire and funds a lot of important initiatives, and was also something Republicans had earlier said they would work hard to eliminate. But Senate Republicans could also celebrate some because they secured an income tax cut for middle-class Minnesota families.
Was there too much partisan bickering during the 2019 session? Absolutely. Did lawmakers on both sides of the aisle spend too much time trying to make themselves look good in the eyes of their constituents when they should have been keeping their nose to the grindstone in the halls of the Capitol in St. Paul. You know it.
But that's politics. Minnesota has the only divided government in the nation, and those divided lawmakers were able to get a deal done that was both pleasing and disappointing to both sides, and both pleasing and disappointing to Minnesotans. When neither party has a clear-cut advantage in the form of a massive majority, that's the way it has to be. Maybe that's the way it needs to be.