Rhetoric Up, Cooperation Down At Capitol

Political rhetoric escalated in the Minnesota Capitol today as Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed four Republican-written lawsuit reform bills.

Dayton complained that Republicans did not talk to him or consider a court report on the issue before passing the bills.

“It appears to be just another political ploy,” Dayton said.

On the other hand, House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, and Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, said that Dayton had since May to express concern about the bills. That is when the Senate overwhelmingly passed them; the House passed them earlier in this still-young legislative session and the Senate approved little changes days ago.

“They have set the tone,” Dayton said about Republican bills that he claims are not good for the average Minnesotan.

Zellers said the lawsuit reform bills came from businesses. “This is not a coalition of wrongdoers.”

Senjem encouraged state leaders to take a different tone.

“I just find this morning to be a little disappointing,” the leader said after learning about the vetoes and Dayton’s comments. “It is time for the governor to put the spears down.”

But Republicans took their shots at Dayton and his vetoes.

“The governor in vetoing them is no friend of Minnesota business,” said Sen. Julianne Ortman, R-Chanhassen.

The Legislature has met about three weeks (with a four-day break for precinct caucuses) out of what some legislative leaders predict to be a 10-week session. The state Constitution requires them to adjourn by May 21, but most leaders want to leave much earlier.