The 2019 elections are finished  (did I hear a resounding sigh of relief?) and now that the swearing-in pageantry is over, lawmakers are getting down to business.  From both a local and a national perspective, many eyes will be on St. Paul and the Minnesota Legislature as they becomes the only state lawmaking group evenly-split between both political parties.  Add in a newly-elected Governor, and many people will watching to see what exactly gets accomplished.

Many so-called "hot button" issues are scheduled to be acted on during the 2019 session, with outcomes hypothesized by both political parties.  One thing is for sure:  heated discussion will probably take center-stage over some of the issues up for a vote.

Here are the five front-burner issues expected to be acted upon in 2019 by the Minnesota Legislature:

  • Hands-Free Cell Phone Use Ban:  While the hazards of cell phone use while driving are well-documented, it's still legal in the State of Minnesota to be on your cell phone (outside of road construction work zones) while driving.  There is a push to change that and action - one way or another - is expected this session.
  • Gun Control:  Nationally this is a divisional issue and you can expect the same results here in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.  But, now that the Republicans aren't in total legislative control, Democrats sense an opening.
  • Legalized Recreational Marijuana Use:  Minnesota's newly-elected Democratic Governor Tim Walz supports legalizing the use of this drug.  With many other states making the use of the drug legal, look for a push to do the same in Minnesota.
  • Transportation Spending (&) Tax:  There's no disagreement that Minnesota's highways and bridges are in need of improvement or replacement; the argument is over how to pay for it.  Democrats and Governor Walz support raising the gas tax - a tax that critics say is already higher than other states.
  • Healthcare Tax:  Since 1992, there has been a 2% tax on health care providers in Minnesota.  That's tax is expected to end in December 2019.  The problem is that the tax generates around $700 million annually for the state.  Look for a sharp debate here.