This guest column is by State Rep. Steve Green, R-Fosston.

The 2020 session has started, and I expect this year to be as busy as ever, even with the state’s two-year budget having been passed last year.

We held the line on excessive new spending last year, one reason $1.5 billion in excess revenue is projected for the state. Be ready for long debates over spending that surplus or doing the right thing by sending it back to the Minnesota taxpayer.

I also expect to see more attempts from the House majority the push through gun control. At the end of 2019 session, Democrats vowed to return this year with the same agenda. This includes gun control, such as the Red Flag law. They also could get back to pushing driver’s licenses for people in the country illegally and perverted sex education curriculum in our schools.

There is a good chance we will hear bills related to voter registration regarding presidential primaries. There has been some confusion over how this came about. Here is a brief summary:

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To begin, the presidential primary itself came about as a reaction to the 2016 presidential caucuses, which were perceived as chaotic by attendees from both major parties. There was frustration among many that Minnesota relied on the caucus meeting model and didn’t offer the same style of presidential primary that other states have. A major public benefit that was expressed at the time was that a primary election gave people an opportunity to participate by simply voting, rather than having to attend a (long, chaotic) meeting.

The history of party preference reporting within the primary system in Minnesota is an interesting one. Despite the public uproar in reaction to the 2016 caucuses, both major parties still preferred the caucus system. One reason for this preference was because it allowed parties to ensure and verify that those who voted in their respective caucuses were likely members of/sympathetic to their respective party (or rather, it at least minimized the risk of “sabotage” voting).

Now, establishing and conducting a primary required buy-in from party leadership in order to ensure that the party would abide by the results at their nominating convention -– otherwise the whole system collapses. So, in developing the rules for the new presidential primary, keeping a record of voter party choices was a request of both the DFL and GOP. Again, this was an attempt to minimize crossover voting, but of course, also has obvious voter identification benefits for both parties as well. The 2017 bill instituting the presidential primary received bipartisan support and was signed by Democrat Gov. Mark Dayton and passed by a Republican Legislature.

Until last session, data on voter party choices was to be made available to the entire public. In ’19 however, the availability of the list was restricted to the major parties alone.

If you are interested in more details regarding the presidential primary, House Research put together a publication on the primary process, which can be found at www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hrd/pubs/mnpresprim.pdf.

Look for more news as things get going in St. Paul and, as always, your input is welcome.