Business regulation, workforce development, achievement gap and – autonomous cars?
These are just a few of the many issues that Governor Tim Walz and lawmakers addressed on Wednesday evening with a crowd of about 1,700 at the St. Paul River Center during the 2019 session's priority session. the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce.
This was Walz's first major public appearance since being sworn in Monday as the 41st governor of Minnesota, and the crowd gave him a warm welcome as former Mankato Congressman announced their priorities.
Walz says it is open to streamlining licensing processes and other regulatory processes for business leaders. He also said he wanted to find new ways to provide the workforce with the training companies need to grow.
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Walz said he hoped more students would consider pursuing qualified careers that might not require a college degree or a debt burden.
"The day he comes home and tells me that he wants to become a plumber will be the happiest day of my life," said Walz, explaining that his son Gus could choose a trade rather than a diploma four years.
The new Democratic governor has again underlined his thesis that, for him, politics is a question of cooperation and not only of victory and loss. He said he hoped to work with LDF President Melissa Hortman and Senate Majority Leader GOP Paul Gazelka.
"I did not ask to be governor to beat someone," Walz said. "Sen. Gazelka does not wear a different uniform.
Republican leaders seemed to share Walz's desire to cooperate on Capitol Hill. At a previous round table with legislative leaders, Mr Gazelka pointed out that both sides were about 80% of agreement on the challenges facing the state.
"I hope we will try new things. Different things can really make a difference, "Gazelka said in discussing the state's academic achievement gap.
Hortman told the crowd that the House would consider protections for workers during this legislative session, including paid family leave and access to sick leave. Republicans and business leaders want incentives for companies that offer these benefits rather than obligations that everyone must follow.
"It's something we should be able to understand together," said Hortman.
It is difficult to reunite Democratic and Republican leaders in a room without surprises.
It is clear that most DFLs support Walz's idea of lifting the gas tax for the maintenance of roads and bridges and that Republicans hate it.
But who knew that Kurt Daudt, the former Speaker of the House, would have predicted that autonomous cars would have their own dedicated lanes in the metropolitan area in five years or less?