What next? That’s the question at the Capitol

House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, and Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, talked Wednesday morning  about the end of a planned one-day special session that finished without a state budget. Tim Nelson | MPR News

A planned one-day special session for the Minnesota Legislature skidded off the end of the runway Tuesday morning, after hours of acrimony over who was to blame for failure to pass major bills to set the next two-year state budget.

Both the House and Senate adjourned shortly before the 7 a.m. deadline set out in a late night deal struck two days earlier between legislative leaders and Gov. Mark Dayton. The House managed to pass a tax bill and E-12 education funding bill, but the Senate was still working through bill introductions when the clock ran out.

“We’re going to continue to talk. I will to continue to talk to the governor. We’ll communicate,” said Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, as he left the Senate floor. “Normally when you have a special session, when you have a signed agreement, the bills start moving forward. They don’t take all night to do a bill. And that’s what happened.”

Listen to Daudt and Gazelka talk about the path forward:

It isn’t clear what will happen next: the House convened again just before 9 a.m., then recessed again until at least 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, presumably to allow staff to write some of the sizable bills still heading for a vote, particularly the main health and human services funding measure.

House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Zimmerman, struck an optimistic tone after the all-night session wound down.

“We can continue this work and pass this agreement, at least the spirit of the agreement. The bills are the bills that were agreed to by all of us,” Daudt said. “They will eventually end on the governor’s desk. We can do that and put them on the governor’s desk, with the help of the Democrats in an orderly fashion, in a timely fashion, or we can delay things and do it over the course of the next week or two.”

A spokesperson for DFL Gov. Mark Dayton said that Dayton and the four legislative leaders met about 9 p.m. Wednesday morning, and that much of the final proceedings of the session remain in flux.

Dayton’s staff hasn’t seen the language on funding bills for state agencies, health and human services and bonding. The spokesperson said lawmakers expressed a need for “a couple of hours to regroup,” but that the leadership and governor would meet again Wednesday afternoon.

Unspoken by either side: what’s called a preemption bill is still in the offing, one that would have blocked paid sick time and minimum wage ordinances in cities like Minneapolis and St. Paul.

It was part of the agreed-on special session agenda, even though Dayton has said he will veto it. But Republicans added some provisions Democrats have supported, including a six week family and medical leave provision for state workers and wage protection for workers.

It isn’t clear how Republicans in either house will get the session back off the ground. Major bills are mostly written, but the path forward is what House Minority Leader Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park,  called “uncharted waters.”

There may also be also logistical problems as the special session runs on. Gazelka said the Senate was in “a difficult spot,” with a slim one-vote majority.

“We have people that have plane tickets to fly places and funerals to go to, and all kinds of things that have to be done,” he said. “When you have 34 and if you miss just one person, you can’t do it. It’s very disappointing.”

  • fleets

    What lovely spin, Gazelka. Only two bills were printed and ready to vote on so it doesn’t even matter how much debate there was. It was IMPOSSIBLE to pass any more since they weren’t printed. The majority has abused nonpartisan staff in a horrible way.

    • flqueenfan

      That happens every year–the end of session is he!! for all staffers (and most members). It doesn’t matter who’s in charge–everything comes down to the last minute.

    • JQP

      true – it’s the result of a paper “requirement” … the legislature needs to pass two bills…
      1) electronic bills – so they can be shared real time with media and public at large – as they evolve. time to open the curtains in the back room and the living room.
      2) restructure the legislature as a single body ( not two) as
      – 1 representative per county ( 87 total)
      – plus one additional for (each) St. Paul, Minneapolis, St. Cloud, Rochester, Duluth ( 4 total )
      – one for metropolitan area wide

      … cut the waste …

  • John

    >>There may also be also logistical problems as the special session runs on. Gazelka said the Senate was in “a difficult spot,” with a slim one-vote majority.

    “We have people that have plane tickets to fly places and funerals to go to, and all kinds of things that have to be done,” he said.

    Good. Suffer. Miss things you care about. You didn’t do your job in the time you were allotted to do it Sucks to be you – all 5 million of us are impacted by your incompetence.

    The people who will be out of work on July 1 (temporarily) if you don’t do your job will suffer more. The people with reservations at state parks (that will close for the biggest weekend of the summer) will be unhappy as well.

    Don’t expect a lot of sympathy from us, the citizens of MN. Your incompetence at budgeting (all of you – not just Gazelka) and doing your jobs as our elected representatives is not a reason for us to feel bad for you. It is a reason for us to think hard next time a vote comes around though.

    • Sean Siberio

      I always want to ask this; how is political disagreement incompetence? Fundamentally the parties involved are at odds over sincere differences in policy which will create conflict and attempts at power struggles. This is baked into any system with multiple branches of government needing approval and where there is a potential for conflicting sides to hold different levers of power. While certainly I don’t like the Republicans proposals, I don’t think them trying to come out with their priorities intact is in and of itself incompetent.

      • Barbara Skoglund

        State shutdowns are very costly. They are incompetent to force these shutdowns costing $ they say they are “saving.” The gop has repeatedly refused to allow lights on legislation. They are the party of many things, including cut your nose to spite your face.

      • John

        If I don’t do my job on time, I’ll at best be reprimanded. I’d also be considered incompetent if did that repeatedly. And – guess what – I’ll be fired eventually too.

        My issue at the moment has nothing to do with whether or not our elected officials are keeping to their priorities (note that I have not mentioned one party or the other – both are culpable – Gazelka gets called out because he made the statement about how it is hard and they might have to miss something personal to vote. boo hoo).

        This is about their inability to do their job in the time frame that they are expected to complete it in (which includes keeping their priorities intact). Dragging out the process and threatening shutdown has become standard operating procedure for the biannual budget process. Using it as such, and then complaining about how it might make them miss the things they want to do is garbage.

  • JQP

    so the GOP complaint is that they cannot guarantee a solid 1 vote majority…
    its too bad there isn’t an option of compromise.