Pre-Easter Legislative Adjournment Looks Less Likely

Many people under the Capitol dome say it feels like the Legislature is in its final days, but more and more it looks like lawmakers will take a break and return April 16 to wrap up work.

Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, said lawmakers are working quickly, but it looks difficult to quit on Thursday, the last day before a long-planned Easter-Passover break begins. In the last week or so, the feeling of a Thursday adjournment appeared to be a goal but few observers see how that can happen.

If nothing else, passing a high-priority public works funding bill looks like it needs more than a week to negotiate widely differing proposals.

The governor wants to spend $776 million, plus he supports another $241 million for Capitol building renovations. The House is prepared to debate a bill to spend $280 million, with a separate bill to spend $221 million for the Capitol.

Senators had planned to debate on Friday a bill of just less than $500 million, including $25 million for the Capitol, but Senjem delayed debate a few days.

Such big differences seldom melt away in less than a week. That is especially true since House Minority Leader Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, said only a few Democrats may vote for it, and some Republicans likely will oppose it in the House, making its passage uncertain.

Thissen said Republicans have not worked with Democrats on the public works bill.

“We have a goal of adjournment in the very near future,” Senjem said. “We just can’t put a date on it yet.”

Senjem said committee chairmen have their marching orders, or maybe running orders: “We are pushing our chairs pretty hard, do it right, do it quickly.”

Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, who has urged early adjournment, said that so far he has not seen lawmakers make good use of taxpayers’ money this session. Few significant bills have passed so far.