Minn. lawmakers drawing up new shutdown rules

Published 12:06 pm Tuesday, March 6, 2012

ST. PAUL, Minn. — A Minnesota Senate committee has approved bills to take some sting out of future government shutdowns, but the debate re-opened wounds from last summer’s bitter budget feud between the Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican lawmakers.

The bills approved Tuesday make various state functions shutdown-proof. State colleges would be assured of continued funding, the Minnesota Zoo would remain open and road construction projects would continue.

Last summer, a dispute over tax increases versus spending cuts between Democrat Dayton and Republican legislative leaders caused a three-week government shutdown. A court ordered the state to keep some programs going, but many offices were dark until a new budget was adopted.

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Some Democrats say easing the pain of a shutdown could make budget standoffs last longer. The bills head next to a vote in the full Senate.