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Tensions are rising in the state capital as the end of the legislature approaches

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Tensions rose in the state capital this week with lengthy debates and political finger-pointing by both Democrats and Republicans defining the final few days of each legislative session.

Lawmakers must adjourn Monday and the DFL majority is races to complete his to-do list of bills, but not before Republicans have their say. This week, debates on one bill lasted more than seven hours in both chambers on various bills.

The frustration between the caucuses culminated late Wednesday, just before midnight, when House Speaker Melissa Hortman cut off debate and forced a vote. Many Republicans shouted, demanding that she change course and allow the debate to continue. The procedural move drew the ire of Republican members who blasted it as undemocratic and said it threatened to derail their support for bills that could need their votes to get them across the finish line.

‘Everything is at stake at the moment: the bond, sports betting, Uber/Lyft — anything where Republican votes might be needed is in jeopardy because of the action taken last night,” House Minority Leader Lisa Demuth said during a news conference Thursday.

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Later Thursday, Hortman and House Majority Leader Jamie Long backed the decision to halt debate, and the speaker told reporters she would do it again if necessary in the final three days, when lawmakers can debate the remaining bills . The legislature cannot pass bills by the constitutional deadline on Monday, so any debates on the remaining bills will last through the weekend.

“The minority absolutely has the right to be heard. For eight hours there was an extensive debate on the technical law on paid medical leave,” Hortman said of Wednesday’s debate. ‘But just like the [House chamber] rules provide that the minority has the right to be heard, House rule also provides that the majority has the right and responsibility to govern.”

It was controversial on Monday constitutional amendment with equal rights was scheduled for a vote in the House of Representatives, but it was never brought up for discussion after hours of debate on a bill that ultimately received some bipartisan support. Democrats accuse Republicans of deliberately filibustering to prevent passage of the ERA.

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The amendment would enshrine equal rights in the state constitution and guarantee protections against discrimination based on race, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and more. A new language would also protect the right to abortion, provoke a fierce backlash. If the proposal is approved by both chambers, voters could have their say during the 2026 elections.

DFL leaders were resolute Thursday, promising a vote on the ERA on Friday and pledging that no negotiations — such as a deal to pass a binding proposal to support local infrastructure that would require GOP votes — would dissuade them prevent the proposal from being adopted.

“We have the resources to get the whole agenda done, so I don’t think anything needs to be risked or sacrificed to make ERA a reality, except maybe a bond bill,” Hortman said. “If Republicans condition their support for our bonding bill on denying civil rights to trans Minnesotans, then we will not have a bonding bill.”

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In addition to the Equal Rights Amendment, bills that would legalize sports betting,regulates rideshare companiesand allow more cities will introduce ranked-choice votingis eligible for votes in the full chamber of House Fridat.

Despite the political tensions following the abrupt end to the floor debate, Hortman indicated there is still a chance a bipartisan infrastructure package could come together at the last minute.

“During the legislature, it’s always darkest before dawn, but first it has to be pitch black,” she said. ‘But I don’t think that will have a big impact in the end. This is something that always happens at the end of the session – whether it’s us in charge, whether it’s the Republicans in charge. It’s very tense. People are exhausted. Everything comes down. to the past few days.”

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