Minn. saw scrapes in last time with 1-party rule

Published 11:01 am Monday, December 24, 2012

ST. PAUL, Minn. — One-party Capitol rule means that harmony, efficiency and common purpose will reign, right? If history is any guide, don’t bank on it.

Next month, Minnesota Democrats will assume control of the House and Senate to go along with a governor’s office held by Democrat Mark Dayton. It’s a notable consolidation of political power in a state government defined for 20 years by fractures that gave two or more parties a leadership stake and allowed standoffs to become routine.

But the last stretch of one-party dominance — Democrats had total control from 1987 to 1990 — came with its share of scrapes, too. Major legislation fell to vetoes, once forcing lawmakers into special session. The governor openly questioned the ability of legislative leaders, who responded in kind.

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“It’s not always everyone humming the same tune,” said former Senate Majority Leader Roger Moe, a key player in those years. “And I don’t expect that to be the case this time either.”

A dominant and politically contentious issue then was Gov. Rudy Perpich’s effort to remake the state’s tax system. His call for easing business taxes got a lukewarm reception among Democratic legislators, who wanted a greater emphasis on tax pressures facing homeowners.