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Hot Dish Politics

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

After a Minnesotan emailed Sen. David Osmek imploring him to support the Southwest light-rail project, the Mound Republican replied from his Senate email address: “Happy to do everything to stop your liberal wet dream.”

“Dream” was misspelled in the email.

Asked about the exchange after a Senate floor session 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 Southwest light rail line, which would run from Minneapolis to Eden Prairie, would be the third light rail segment in the Metro region, following the Blue Line from Minneapolis to the Mall of America and the Green Line from Minneapolis to St. Paul.

The Southwest line has been a source of controversy, both for residents along the line and also in statewide politics. Republicans have voiced opposition to the project as a waste of money that would not do enough to ease traffic. The 2016 legislative session collapsed without a transportation or public works bill because of a row over light rail funding. 

Support for the project includes more than just the liberal wing of the DFL, however.

The TwinWest Chamber of Commerce, which is an association of businesses in the western suburbs, supports the project.

Osmek pointed out that TwinWest businesses would benefit from the line: “They’re doing this to feather of their own nest,” he said.

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.

“If the voters are looking for someone who is a little more direct, maybe at times uses a little colorful language, I’m their guy,” he said.   

“Maybe I will be a little more judicious,” he allowed.