Lawmakers wary of special session for Mille Lacs

Published 10:20 am Thursday, August 6, 2015

ST. PAUL — Minnesota lawmakers pumped the brakes Wednesday on Gov. Mark Dayton’s call for a special session to aid Mille Lacs Lake businesses hurting from the early closure of walleye fishing season, instead suggesting a different solution: re-open the lake to walleye fishing.

Resorts around the state’s premier walleye fishing lake are already feeling the pinch from the sudden end of the season Monday night. A Mille Lacs tourism official told lawmakers 10 resorts had reported a combined $25,000 in cancellations, not counting the untold losses from reservations anglers aren’t booking.

Dayton and a group of lawmakers examining how best to respond agree they need help but disagree on an approach.

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Several lawmakers were sour on the idea of returning to St. Paul for a special session to craft a package of no-interest loans, property tax cuts and advertising funding that Dayton proposed. They said it’s a premature step and that the state has other resources it can send to Mille Lacs that won’t require a special session.

Instead, Sen. David Tomassoni and others said the best response would be to re-open Mille Lacs Lake through Labor Day.