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Senate GOP lays out priorities

ST. PAUL — Eliminating the state’s partial tax on Social Security benefits, reducing violent crime in the Twin Cities and reforming the state Department of Human Services are some of the top priorities for the 2020 legislative session that the Minnesota Senate GOP majority announced Monday.

Majority Leader Paul Gazelka and other Senate Republicans rolled out their “Vision 2020” agenda at a news conference ahead of the session, which opens Feb. 11. They offered few specifics for tackling crime or fixing the troubled agency, but Gazelka said they would hold committee hearings to flesh out those priorities.

The main task of the upcoming session is to assemble a public works borrowing package known as a bonding bill. Democratic Gov. Tim Walz last week said his proposed package will total around $2 billion. That will include $488 million he proposed Monday for maintaining and upgrading higher education facilities across the state.

Gazelka wouldn’t specify how big of a bonding bill Senate Republicans will support. But he said the closer it is to last two that passed the Legislature, which totaled $825 million and $998 million, the more supportive he’ll be.

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