Mike Mulcahy talked through the legislative session so far with former GOP House Minority Leader Marty Seifert and public affairs consultant Todd Rapp. And he checked in with GOP Speaker of the House Kurt Daudt.
You can listen to the full show in the audio bar above, but here are three highlights from the conversation:
1) Republicans have to unify around budget prioritiesTodd Rapp said DFL Gov. Mark Dayton is likely waiting for the Republican majorities in the House and Senate to agree on a plan "before putting his cards on the table."
"Remember, it's not two-on-one anymore. It's one-on-one," Rapp said. "The governor is probably smart to wait until he sees how the House and Senate come together on an agreement before he gets too aggressive."
Seifert said Republicans appear to be about three weeks ahead of schedule after passing bills related to health care premiums and re-insurance early in the session. But the hard work will be agreeing on budget bills that are sometimes millions of dollars apart.
Seifert said the governor has "the upper hand" when it comes to a tax bill. "And, frankly, he doesn't need a tax bill," Seifert said. "So he can just say, 'look, the maximum I'm willing to take is 500 or 600 million' -- or whatever the number is -- 'and that's it, and I'm not signing it if it's a penny more than that.'"
2) The Trump Effect looms over St. PaulRapp and Seifert agreed that state lawmakers thinking about re-election next year can't help but pay attention to Washington.
"Let's be honest, the Trump wave in rural Minnesota did help propel some of these seats into the Republican column," Seifert said. "Some of these legislative candidates, while they worked very hard, were swept into office -- some by narrow margins -- with the Trump margins in their districts."
Rapp predicted that the 2018 election will be "a district-by-district referendum on Donald Trump."
"For average voters right now in Minnesota, they are more likely to be following what's going on in Washington than they are in St. Paul. Even more than any other year that I've seen in recent history," Rapp said. "Consequently it will be interesting to see whether legislative candidates in 2018 -- with a governor's race, with Sen. Klobuchar up (for re-election), and the discussion of Trump -- are going to be able to cut through that clutter and make the case that they've actually managed government differently.
3) Daudt predicts fee increase for state park but not hunting and fishing
Daudt called the DNR's proposed hike in hunting fees "controversial". "Hunting groups very often say they want it, but the individual hunters don't. And they contact us and they tell us that they don't want to see that," he said.
"It seems like the one that is most needed is the park fee at this point," he said. "Those who have access to the parks buy a permit to enter the parks and that money is used to make sure we're keeping up the services in those parks."
Daudt also reiterated that he will consider a run for governor only after the legislative session is over.