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Minnesota lawmakers continue special session debate

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (KTTC) -- The job is not yet done for lawmakers in St. Paul, as both the House and Senate continue discussion on the eighth day of Minnesota's legislative special session.

Lawmakers are still working out deals, from COVID-19 aid, to police accountability and reform. Time is ticking with a deadline to reach agreements on a number of pressing bills by the end the night Friday.

"Stay a few more days, we could get some amazing things done," said House Speaker, Rep. Melissa Hortman, (DFL) Brooklyn Park.

With the upcoming deadline, House and Senate DFLers are calling for Senate Republicans to reconsider its self imposed deadline.

"We have to go to a table and we have to negotiate. And negotiations are give in take," Hortman said. "Negotiations aren't here are a list of things we're willing to accept, see you later if you don't do it the way we want to do it. Minnesotans deserve more from us."

A lot of ground still to cover by 6:30 p.m. Overall, there were four major points of discussion. First, the COVID-19 aid bill, which would provide federal funding to Minnesotans. Next, items left over form the regular session, like the bonding bill -- which is a $2.6 billion bill designed to help build infrastructure and bring back lost jobs. Third, police accountability and reform, with a call to action amplified after the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police in late May. Lastly, the economic devastation and destruction caused by the civil unrest following Floyd's death.

Some feel like eight days is not enough to thoroughly cover everything.

"It's just too soon to go home, on the Senate side we have not finished our work yet and its impossible to see how we will finish before this arbitrary deadline that has been described as midnight tonight," said Minority Leader Sen. Susan Kent, (DFL) Woodbury, in a press conference. "There is, as you've heard, urgent and immediate work in front of us, like the robust bonding bill that has gone through a very public process and is in its final stages of negotiation and immediate social justice reforms."

Friday morning, just after 1 o'clock, House Democrats passed sweeping bills on police accountability. Friday evening, a bill providing state assistance to individuals, nonprofits and businesses impacted by civil unrest was also passed.

Majority Leader, Sen. Paul Gazelka, (R) Nisswa, was expected to speak at 4 o'clock Friday, but the press conference was postponed. Gazelka has made it clear that the special session will end Friday night, despite pleas from DFL lawmakers to extend the deadline.

Gov. Tim Walz does have the power to call lawmakers back. At this point, it is unclear whether or not that will happen.

Beret Leone

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