(FOX 9) - For the first time in eight years, Minnesota democrats have regained control in St. Paul, opening the door for passage of legislation that was stalled amid a divided legislature.
Tuesday’s election flipped the Minnesota state senate back to the democrats and returned them to power in the House, opening the door for progressive legislation that had no chance in a divided legislature.
While party officials have not laid out an agenda for the upcoming legislative session, many believe legalizing recreational marijuana, adding protections to abortion access, spending the surplus, and more will be on the docket.
"If your favorite bill couldn’t get a hearing before, it might be different in January," said Senate assistant minority leader Nick Frentz. "It sounds like the people of Minnesota want the democrat agenda and they want us to put it through."
Frentz says one of the first things on the agenda is coming up with a plan for distributing the $10 billion surplus back into the community.
"We should work on getting that money back to the people. That’s what they want. We have needs and investments. Education, long term care, public safety. We should make those investments when we have a surplus."
Frentz says recreational marijuana will also be on the docket, but not without thoughtful consideration.
"I don’t think I see it in the near or far future but its what the majority of Minnesotans want and it is coming."
But not all bills that couldn’t get through the senate before are a sure thing under democrat control. Sports betting, for example, struggled to find success with a divided legislature, and will likely continue to struggle as democrats remain divided on the issue.
"Sports gambling is one of those things that has to have both the support of republicans and democrats. And with democrats in total control, it makes it harder for them to compromise with the minority party," said longtime proponent of sports betting and tenth term republican representative Pat Garofalo.
Garofalo said so far they have been unable to agree on a strategy for gaming, which influences him to believe passage this session will be challenging.