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Editorial: Expect friction despite one-party rule in St. Paul

So Minnesotans can expect all harmony and progress and cooperation and rainbows this year in St. Paul, right? Because a single party, the DFL, is running both branches of the Legislature while also occupying the governor's office? Makes sense, doesn't it? Not necessarily so.

That's certainly not how it went down from 1987 to 1990, the last time one party, the Democrats again, enjoyed complete control of Gopher State governing. Major legislation fell to vetoes, the governor and lawmakers openly questioned each other's abilities, and there even had to be a special session.

At a chamber-sponsored forum early Tuesday in Duluth, the state chamber's senior vice president of public affairs, Bill Blazar, said "the partisanship will be fascinating" to watch this legislative session. The 2013 Legislature kicked off at noon Tuesday.

Lawmakers need to work together effectively this session to fill a 10-figure fiscal hole, to hammer together a two-year budget plan and to put the state back on firm financial footing.

"(Senate Majority Leader Tom) Bakk and new (House) Speaker Paul Thissen have been pretty clear that (the budget) is the No. 1 thing that's got to get done," Blazar said at the forum. "What'll be important to watch is how they manage that discussion. If they come in during the early stages and it's all about, 'What taxes are we going to raise?' then we will get the tax increases because I think Gov. (Mark) Dayton will go along with it. But we won't have solved the underlying problem, which is the structure of spending and then creating a tax system that's suitable for a 21st-century economy.

"I think if everyone sticks with the notion that we want to create jobs and that we want to make Minnesota a great place to have a business and to grow the business, then ... there's no reason why we couldn't make progress (this session) on environmental permitting, energy, solving the electricity problem (the cost of electricity in Minnesota is increasing to the point where it's costlier here than in neighboring states, Blazar said), work force -- there are some things we can do to make sure businesses have a better supply of qualified workers -- and the health-care exchange. We should be able to make progress ... and that will really measurably prove Minnesota as a place to have a company and grow a business."

That's all. No pressure, DFL.

-Duluth News Tribune