Update: Special session to last into night

Published 7:11 pm Tuesday, July 19, 2011

An end to Minnesota’s nearly three-week-long state government shutdown came into view on Tuesday, when Gov. Mark Dayton called the Legislature into a special session to vote on a budget deal.

The 19-day government stoppage has sullied Minnesota’s good-government reputation, while disrupting lives and businesses around the state.

It will be over only after both chambers of the Republican-controlled Legislature approve nine budget bills and Dayton, a Democrat, signs them into law. Legislative leaders and Dayton agreed before the votes began to limit the scope of the special session and lawmakers’ ability to tinker with the bills in an effort to keep the budget pact from unraveling once 200 legislators get involved.

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Both chambers came to order shortly after 3 p.m., immediately broke for several hours, then started passing budget bills around dinner-time. Within two hours, both the House and Senate had sent five of nine budget bills to Dayton.

Rep. Jeanne Poppe, DFL-Austin, said the tax bill took about half an hour to debate, although some legislators expected the discussion to last longer. The bill passed on a straight party line vote at 10:45 p.m., she said.

As of 11:10 p.m., the legacy bill had just passed with “strong bipartisan support,” Poppe said.

“The bills yet to do include K-12 education, state government, health and human services, pensions, legacy, bonding/capital investment,” Poppe said in an e-mail sent at 10:17 p.m Tuesday night.

House Speaker Kurt Zellers said lawmakers would likely work through the night to finish passing all the bills.

Dayton’s chief of staff said the governor would wait to sign the budget bills until all nine are on his desk. Administration officials said laid-off state workers would likely be called back to work the day after Dayton signs the bills.

Look to www.austindailyherald.com for more as this story develops.

– Reporter Amanda Lillie contributed to this report.