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Local lawmakers respond to special session resulting in no major bills passing

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- Minnesota lawmakers ended the special legislative session last week without a deal on several major bills. One of those was the highly anticipated work on police reform.

Gov. Tim Walz is frustrated by what didn't happen, that's despite late night sessions in both the state House and Senate.

There was momentum for police reform following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.

Ideas for change varied, including assigning the state Attorney General to prosecute all police-involved deaths, banning chokeholds, and requiring officers to intervene when excessive force is being used by a fellow officer.

"We need big change," said Rep. Tina Liebling, (DFL) Rochester. "The time for little incremental change is over and I think all of the people in the streets are telling us that."

"No one is going to get everything they want, but let's work on getting those things done that everyone agrees upon and then we can come back later and talk about it," said Sen. Carla Nelson, (R) Rochester.

Liebling says there was not enough time in the special session to produce a quality bill.

Nelson says the issue wasn't about time, rather about not coming to an agreement.

"A lot of the measures that were actually in that package were not brand new," said Liebling. "They had been looked at over time. This is not a new issue for Minnesota, unfortunately it really isn't."

"Most people, we agree on what the problems are, those are pretty self evident, but the solutions are a little bit different, different points of view," said Nelson.

In addition to no agreement on police reform, a federal COVID-19 aid package and a bonding bill was also left un-passed.

Both Liebling and Nelson hope that these three key issues can be settled next time the legislature is back in session.

Many projects are relying on the bonding bill, including the Rochester International Airport.

Last month, DFLers and Republicans couldn't compromise on competing bills, and this special session was no different.

The city of Rochester says it needs $79 million for the airport to get a new runway, which Nelson says is still a priority.

"The senate bonding bill, the governors bonding bill, and the house bonding bill all included the Rochester International Airport," said Nelson. "That's my initiative in the senate, it's very important to all of us in the southern tier of this state, the economics of that, the safety of that are incredibly important."

The proposed project at the Rochester International Airport would take between four to five years to complete.

Sarah Gannon

Sarah Gannon

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