Last Legislative Day? Probably Not


By Don Davis and Danielle Nordine

The Minnesota Legislature was supposed to adjourn today, but an hour-and-a-half high-level meeting broke up at mid-afternoon with only an agreement to talk again.

The same three major issues remain unresolved that have had that status for days: tax relief, public works projects and a Vikings stadium. The lack of progress indicated the Legislature will go beyond today’s self-imposed adjournment deadline.

Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton came out of his office after meeting with legislative leaders to say they discussed a tax-relief bill and he expected further talks later today. No progress was reported on public works projects, to be financed by the state selling bonds, but the governor said he thought that issue could be resolved.

Dayton said discussions were constructive.

His office is working on a response to Republicans’ plan.

He said a GOP proposal to use some of the state’s budget reserves is “fiscally unsound and unwise.”

“That’s one of the hang-ups,” he said of tax negotiations.

Dayton said talks with leaders about a public works borrowing bill were “secondary,” and they talked some about a new Vikings stadium, mostly about the process of passing a bill.

“I encouraged them to stay as long as they need to,” Dayton said.

He said there were “no threats whatsoever by anybody” during talks.

Legislative leaders slipped out of a side door from the governor’s office and did not talk to waiting reporters.

It became apparent during the weekend that the Legislature could not meet its self-imposed deadline to adjourn today. Many lawmakers said the only change of that happening was if talks blew up and legislative leaders decided no compromises were possible.

Rep. Morrie Lanning, House author of a stadium bill, said he expects the Legislature to recess for a few days and come back Thursday or Monday.

The Moorhead Republican’s bill is expected to take 12 hours to debate once it comes up in the House. If the House and Senate, which also would need a lengthy debate, pass their stadium bills they likely would need time to negotiate out differences.

House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, said before his meeting with the governor that legislative priorities should be on things such as lowering taxes on businesses and other Minnesotans and fund public works projects such as roads and sewage systems before dealing with a stadium.

The House and Senate began meeting and noon today. The House recessed immediately for at least four hours; the Senate debated some minor issues before recessing.

GOP leaders want to take up the tax bill before the other two bills, but even if Dayton and Republicans agree on a tax plan, it not could not reach the House and Senate floors until early Tuesday.