Talks resume on special session

Published 11:06 am Friday, September 9, 2016

By Rachel E. Stassen-Berger

St. Paul Pioneer Press

St. PAUL — Gov. Mark Dayton, who declared the chances of a special legislative session nil just three weeks ago, is talking again about bringing lawmakers back to pass a tax cut bill and a borrowing measure for statewide projects.

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“I don’t know if there’s a willingness to proceed,” Dayton said. “I’m certainly willing to call a special session if the legislative leaders can agree but that hasn’t been the case for the last three months.”

In mid-August, Dayton concluded that continuing to discuss a special session was futile.

The final breakdown came after Democrats insisted a special session include provisions to build the Southwest light-rail line, which would run from Minneapolis to Eden Prairie, and Republicans insisted they would not support any light-rail provisions. Since then, Dayton moved his transit agency to work with local and regional governments to go around the Legislature and provide the money to build the line.

The governor said agreeing on a special session may now be easier with that issue out of the way.



But Dayton said that he and, particularly, the Republican House still have differences on allocating funds for transportation and borrowing for a state security hospital in St. Peter and a renovation of the Fort Snelling historic site.

The governor and House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, plan to meet Friday to discuss various issues. Among those, both Dayton and Daudt said, will be a special session.

“Obviously, I do want to have a special session,” Daudt said. Although the election, when all House and Senate seats will be on the ballot, is just two months away, Daudt said he believes lawmakers would be willing to come back to the Capitol for a special session if it comes together.

“I think we can pull that off fairly quickly,” he said. “The bottom line is this what’s right for Minnesota.”

Daudt said that other than the light-rail issue, the other differences Republicans and Democrats had in special session talks were “so minor that I just don’t see them holding up a special session.”

The special legislative session in contention would likely involve the House and Senate approving $300 million worth of tax breaks or aid for students, farmers, cities and others as well as passage of a $1 billion borrowing bill for statewide infrastructure projects. The tax provisions would also include a property tax exemption for Minnesota United FC’s proposed soccer stadium in St. Paul.

—Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.