MN House has another legal bill ahead

The Minnesota House has hired a Minneapolis law firm to represent it in a legal fight over legislative salaries, in addition to the court fight it has launched against Gov. Mark Dayton.

Under a legal services agreement signed last week with the Lapp, Libra Thomson, Stoebner & Pusch firm, the House will pay a discounted hourly rate of $320 for representation.

The firm is the default counsel for the House, under a 2001 Rules Committee action, according to a spokeswoman for the House Republican caucus.

A watchdog group called the Association for Government Accountability filed a lawsuit earlier this month that calls for legislators to receive paychecks at the higher salary recently prescribed by an independent panel. The panel was established by a constitutional amendment passed last fall. But House Speaker Kurt Daudt chose not to follow its recommendations, and no money was allocated in the final budget for the pay raises.

Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Myron Frans, another defendant in the case, is represented by the state attorney general. The state Senate is relying on its staff attorney.

The Legislature is also paying another outside law firm for representation in its legal challenge of Dayton’s line-item vetoes of the House and Senate operating budgets. The Kelley, Wolter & Scott firm is representing the House and Senate in that matter. Principal attorney Doug Kelley will charge a discounted hourly rate of $325.

Dayton hired former Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Sam Hanson of the Briggs and Morgan firm to represent him in the case. Hanson will be paid an hourly rate of $506.25, which is a 25 percent discount.

Hearings on both matters are scheduled Monday in Ramsey County District Court.