ST. PAUL, MN-- The Minnesota House and Senate began the 2021 legislative session Tuesday morning.
The first thing on the to-do list is setting the budget.
"We don't know what money we're going to have in a budget whether it's a surplus or a deficit by the time we get to cutting that budget," said DFL and House Majority Leader Rep. Ryan Winkler. "But we do know that there are Minnesotans in great need."
District 5 State Senator Justin Eichorn, a Republican representing those in Grand Rapids, and Bemidji says supporting those impacted by the pandemic, is top priority.
"The state needs to step up and help some of those small businesses they shut down. We did have a package before but I think there is probably more relief that's needed," said Eichorn.
Eichorn along with DFL House Speaker Melissa Hortman, representing a Twin Cities suburb, is hoping to bring more support to students across the state.
"We know that we have some of the worst opportunity gaps in the United States in America," said Hortman. "And we are very committed to doing something about that, you cannot do that entirely free."
Eichorn adds he'll continue to work with all parties to do what's best for Northeastern Minnesota.
"I think the bi-partisanship, I don't want to see it get worse. But based on what you see nationally some of that's coming to Minnesota. It's unfortunate it, it is what it is," he said.
But some Democrats say they won't tolerate certain behavior from the Republican party.
"We are not going to sacrifice the lives of Minnesotans for the sake of a bi-partisan agreement with people who do not care about the lives of Minnesotans," said Winkler.
The November election kept the Democrats in control of the House and Republicans in control of the Senate.
The recent election also brought many newly elected members to the State Capitol, including District 7 Senator, Jen McEwen.
In District 7, McEwen represents Duluth and hopes to work with people on both sides.
"Getting to know all of the senators, and I can report to people that it was very collegial today," said McEwen.
Another topic to be discussed during the legislative session is the future of Governor Tim Walz's emergency powers which allow him to issue certain rulings during the pandemic.
The regular session will run for 120 days.
The House is meeting virtually for now while the Senate will hold hybrid meetings.