Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt revealed Wednesday that there have been behind-the-scenes talks for some time about possible compromise legislation on gun control. He didn't rule out action on gun measures before the session concludes in a few weeks.
"I hope that there is. I think there will be. I think there can be. I don't know what that looks like yet," he said.
Daudt said he has had limited personal involvement in the discussions and was guarded about exactly what is being talked through.
"Solutions that will really help reduce putting guns in the hands of potentially dangerous criminals. I think we all share that goal. I know those conversations are happening. I expect, or I hope those conversations can be fruitful, and we can find legislation that can get the support of the Legislature," Daudt said.
Daudt's comments came after Rep. Erin Maye Quade, DFL-Apple Valley, ended a 24-hour sit-in on the House floor aimed at highlighting a lack of action this year on gun control legislation.
If attention was her goal, she got it with plenty of news coverage and a gallery full of supporters of her cause throughout the morning.
"There have been walkouts. There have been marches. There have been demonstrations. There have been sit-ins. There have been calls. There have been letters, rallies," she said. "I don't think Minnesotans know what else to do to have this majority hear them. I wanted them to know we hear them."
The majority she was referring to are the Republicans who control the House. They have the voting advantage in committees, and have so far bottled up a pair of gun bills.
Rep. Dave Pinto, DFL-St. Paul, is a prosecutor who has taken a lead role in the gun debate. He acknowledged the existence of informal deliberations. But he says they haven't reached the point where the outcome is clear.
"No, I have not been told 'Boy if we make these couple of tweaks then we're ready to go,'" he said.
The onus is on Republicans to get something nailed down or explain to voters this fall why they didn't, Pinto said.
"This is going to be the test for the majority and for the speaker. Is the majority going to be ready to put these common-sense and bipartisan, broadly supported proposals into law?"
The House isn't the only hurdle. Gun bills have also been stymied in the Republican-controlled Senate. Senators aren't on the ballot until 2020.
Like Daudt, Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka isn't ruling out votes this year. But Gazelka said his gut tells him that consensus is further off.
Sen. Ron Latz, DFL-St. Louis Park, intends to push two gun proposals as amendments when a wide-ranging budget bill hits the floor, where backing of just a few Republicans could make the difference.
"I'm not going to pull a surprise on the floor. I've been talking with them, giving them copies of the amendments, answering their questions, helping them understand what's in there because I welcome a full conversation about this," Latz said.
After staying awake through the night to make a point, Maye Quade was looking forward to a bit of a break.
"I am going home to sleep," she said.
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