2015 session begins with new leader, talk of doing 2 years of work in 1

In a long-expected move, during the first day of this year's legislative session, House Republicans, newly in the majority in their chamber, elected Kurt Daudt as speaker.

Daudt immediately welcomed the 26 newly elected House members with a call to action.

"When I look at their faces I see optimism," he said. "My challenge to those of us who are returning here -- let's not change them. Let's let them change us."

The new speaker said his caucus's first five bills, to be introduced on Thursday, will deal with job creation, nursing home funding, improving education, maintaining roads, and reforming MNSure.

On the Senate side, Majority Leader Tom Bakk resurrected his goal of possibly completing two years of legislative work in a single session. But House leaders question whether that's realistic.

DFL House Minority Leader Paul Thissen said, "If we can work and get the work done that Minnesotans need this year, then we will have accomplished that and consider that, but I think it's kind of premature to talk about that until we find if we've accomplished what we need to do for the state."

The reason Bakk is interested in cramming two years of work into this year's session has to do with the ongoing Capitol renovation work, which will close the House and Senate chambers next year.

The tentative plan, assuming Bakk's isn't met, is for legislators to meet in the new Senate office building across the street.