Because we’re the only state with a divided legislature, the eyes of the nation are on Minnesota. In this time of partisanship and polarization, we have a tremendous opportunity to set an example for the rest of the United States. Minnesotans have the ability to come together and prove that our two parties can still work as one for the common good.
Unfortunately, Senate Republicans seem determined to let this opportunity pass us by.
Time after time this session, Senate Republicans have refused to consider bills authored by their DFL colleagues in both the House and Senate. They also have proclaimed the policies and priorities Gov. Tim Walz campaigned on and Minnesotans voted for dead on arrival.
Minnesota is facing real problems, from health care costs to dated and dangerous infrastructure to making sure our communities are safe and equitable. On the major issues facing our state, DFLers have presented real solutions that Republicans have simply ignored. Their obstructionism has to stop.
On health care, people across our state are struggling to pay for prescription medications they rely on to stay well. Nowhere is this more evident than in the costs borne by Minnesotans with diabetes. Insulin prices have skyrocketed, and many families are now paying double what they did in 2012. To deal with these increases, DFLers introduced bills to improve transparency and stability when buying insulin.
Additionally, DFLers introduced the Alec Smith Emergency Insulin Act, which would provide emergency insulin for those who can’t afford their medication. This bill would help reduce the kind of insulin rationing that lead to the death of its namesake, Minnesotan Alec Smith.
Senate Republicans refused to hold hearings on either bill.
The same is true of DFL plans to repair our aging infrastructure. Gov. Walz proposed a gas-tax increase to fund repairs for our bridges and roads, which the American Society of Civil Engineers said are in mediocre and poor condition respectively. Instead of putting these repairs off, which Minnesotans would pay for in vehicle maintenance, or putting the repairs on the state credit card, which Minnesotans would pay for down the road, the DFL is working to actually tackle this issue in a fiscally responsible way.
Senate Republicans have refused to even consider the governor’s plan.
When DFLers introduced paid family and medical leave to ensure Minnesotans could spend time with new children or ill family members, Republicans blocked the bill. When DFLers introduced a bill to restore the right to vote for Minnesotans who were incarcerated but have served their time and paid their debt to society, Republicans blocked the bill.
These are just a few examples of real solutions our party has put forward to tackle common challenges. Gov. Walz and DFLers in the House and Senate have been listening to their constituents and working hard to draft legislation to make their lives better. Unfortunately, Senate Republicans have regularly and stubbornly refused to work with their colleagues on the other side of the aisle, to the detriment of our state.
The people of Minnesota deserve a government that cares for the sick, provides for the common good, and tackles problems head-on. That’s what Gov. Walz and DFLers in the Senate and House are building, and Minnesotans should not have to settle for less. We should not have to tolerate the excuses, delays, and obstruction offered by Sen. Paul Gazelka and his fellow Republicans in the state Senate.
It’s time for Senate Republicans to do their jobs.
Ken Martin is chairman of the Minnesota DFL. He wrote this exclusively for the News Tribune.