After Texas elementary shooting, policy changes appear unlikely

By Jessie Van Berkel

Good morning. More information is emerging about the worst school shooting in nearly a decade. The 18-year-old shooter who killed 19 children and two adults at Robb Elementary School in Texas got past an armed school security officer to enter the building and spent about an hour in the school.

Democrats in the U.S. Senate are attempting to move quickly on background check bills for gun purchases. It's unclear if this shooting will change the longstanding political deadlock.

The Star Tribune politics team reached out to all of Minnesota's U.S. House and Senate members and key state leaders Wednesday to ask what action they believe Congress should take in response to the shooting. We have done this before. The responses — or social media posts we tracked down in lieu of comments — displayed the same divides that have made it impossible for lawmakers to reach an agreement on guns in the past.

Republican Congress members called for prayers and the GOP state Senate leader emphasized a bill legislators just passed to provide mental health support. Democrats called for action on gun measures such as background checks and banning AR-15-style rifles like the shooter had.

Experts offer parents advice for how to talk with their kids about the latest mass shooting. Mara Klecker shares that here.

Gov. Tim Walz gave his take Wednesday on where things stand with a special session. The governor said there are still "reasons to be optimistic" that legislators could reach agreements on the tax and spending bills that were left undone in the final days of the regular session, although he said they might have to "shrink it down a bit."

"It's just kind of moving all the pieces of a Rubik's cube to line up. I kind of feel like we're a couple moves away," Walz said. "I think that the point we got to was, it was agreed, probably wait through this week get through the Memorial Day weekend ... then try to pick this up."

Minnesotans gathered for a vigil Wednesday on the anniversary of George Floyd's murder and added an official sign reading "George Perry Floyd Square" at 38th and Chicago. Maya Rao, Faiza Mahamud and Susan Du report on the reflections of Floyd's family members and others two years after his death prompted a global movement.

President Joe Biden signed an executive order aimed at improving police accountability Wednesday, which organizations and lawmakers said was important — but incomplete. It's largely focused on federal law enforcement and requires those agencies to examine and revise use-of-force policies. The order also adds a database to track officer misconduct. Federal officials hope funding will incentivize local law enforcement to use the database. Biden also aims to limit local police use of military equipment.

More on outcome of the First Congressional District primary race: Hunter Woodall reports in the Republican race former state Rep. Brad Finstad beat state Rep. Jeremy Munson by less than 400 votes, with Munson conceding and congratulating Finstad on Wednesday. Former state Republican chair Jennifer Carnahan was also running to fill the seat left open by the death of her husband, the late Rep. Jim Hagedorn. Carnahan got about 8% of the vote.

On the DFL side, former Hormel Foods CEO Jeff Ettinger handily won the Democratic primary. Ettinger and Finstad will face off in a special election on Aug. 9.

WHERE'S WALZ: The governor has another "Free the Growler" celebratory event today, this time in Rochester.

EVENT WATCH: DFL state legislators and community members will hold a 10 a.m. news conference at the Capitol to respond to the Texas shooting.

READING LIST:

  • The Minnesota Department of Education reversed its plan to disqualify a Minneapolis nonprofit from serving meals to kids, Kelly Smith reports.
  • Historic flooding hits northern Minnesota — and there's more precipitation in the forecast. Christa Lawler takes us to the scene.
  • For adults in the U.S. hit by COVID, one in five under age 65 and one in four older than 65 will experience long COVID.
  • OK, time for something lighter: Bingo! And not just any bingo. Our Taste team put together a card of quintessential summertime delights in Minnesota. What would you add to the list?

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