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Tracking Minnesota’s political scene and keeping you up-to-date on those elected to serve you

Gun control advocates try to keep pressure on, despite legislative losses

Gov. Mark Dayton lent his support to gun control advocates by declaring June 2 Gun Violence Awareness Day in Minnesota. 

A group of lawmakers, activists and law enforcement who pledged to reduce gun violence with measures like universal background checks held a news conference at the Capitol Thursday, even in the face of losses in the November election that left them without an obvious source of influence.

"Just over four years ago, I found myself on a path I did not choose, fighting a battle I did not start, advocating to change dangerous gun laws I never knew existed," said Lucy McBath, faith and outreach coordinator for Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action. McBath’s son, Jordan Davis, was shot and killed in an argument over loud music at a gas station in Jacksonville in 2012. 

McBath was joined by Sen. Jeff Hayden, whose sister was killed by a stray bullet last year. She would have turned 26 Thursday. DFL lawmakers and some members of law enforcement were also there. 

Everytown for Gun Safety/Moms Demand Action, which says it wants to reduce gun violence while respecting the Second Amendment, invested significant resources in the November election with limited success. Republicans took the Senate and strengthened their hold on the House, which means the Legislature is more likely to loosen, rather than tighten, gun laws. 

MN Sen. David Osmek uses colorful language in email to describe Southwest light rail

State Sen. David Osmek used crude language in a message from his government e-mail account to a Twin Cities resident who urged him to support Southwest light rail transit, calling the project “your liberal wet dream.”

Osmek, a Republican from Mound, misspelled the word “dream” in his e-mail to a St. Louis Park resident.

Asked about the exchange after a Senate floor session on Wednesday, Osmek said: “I think light rail is a liberal wet dream. It’s trying to pack people into a rail corridor, creating density. It is a liberal dream.”

The planned Southwest line, which would run from Minneapolis to Eden Prairie, is intended as the third segment to a new Twin Cities light rail system that already includes the Hiawatha Corridor line from Minneapolis to Mall of America, and the Central Corridor line between the Minneapolis and St. Paul downtowns.

Many Republican politicians have been sharply critical of the proposal, and Osmek earlier this week introduced a Senate resolution to redirect $929 million in federal funds for the Southwest line to instead be spent on roads, bridges and other transportation projects.

But support for the project includes more than just the liberal wing of the DFL. The TwinWest Chamber of Commerce, an association of businesses in the western suburbs, supports it as well.

Corporate executives of companies like Ecolab, Polaris and U.S. Bank have also endorsed the light rail line and other investments in transit.

Asked about the CEOs, Osmek replied: “I represent a constituency, not a company. I believe the people in my area don’t support this rail. And I believe most Minnesotans don’t support this rail.”

Osmek, who is considering a 2018 run for governor, appears to be staking out ground as the candidate who tells it as he sees it. He admitted to at times using “a little colorful language,” but then added: “Maybe I will be a little more judicious.”

 

J. Patrick Coolican • 651-925-5042