Gov. Mark Dayton won’t be calling lawmakers back for a special session this year.
The governor and lawmakers have spent months discussing terms of a possible special session after the 2016 Legislature ended quite chaotically, with lawmakers failing to pass a tax bill and a bonding bill.
But just like last year, there won’t be a special session.
After meeting with legislative leaders Thursday, Dayton said he won’t be convening one after failing to reach a deal with Republicans on funding for the Southwest Light Rail (an extension of Metro Transit’s Green Line that would connect Minneapolis and Eden Prairie), MinnPost says.
“That’s my disappointment that we couldn’t get this worked out in a way that we could proceed with both and pass both and then provide the tax relief and new projects that would benefit thousands of Minnesotans,” Dayton said, according to MPR News.
But Republicans are blaming Democrats. Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt – who has vocally opposed funding the Southwest Light Rail – said Democrats didn’t want to discuss other issues without negotiating the light rail.
“Let’s set aside the things we can’t agree on and let’s be Minnesotan, let’s be ‘Minnesota nice’ and let’s focus on the things we can agree on,” Daudt said, according to WCCO. “Let’s get a session and just work on the things we can agree on, and the governor flat out said, ‘No, we’re not going to work on those things without Southwest Light Rail.’”
Without funding for the light rail getting approved, it means the state could lose out on federal funding that would pay for half of the nearly $2 billion project.
Will there be heated legislative races?
This comes less than three months before the November election (all 201 seats in the Minnesota Legislature are on the ballot), so it could make things interesting as Republicans and Democrats aim to keep – and gain – the majority.
The Star Tribune says Daudt, who wants to keep the majority in the House, is hoping the GOP’s opposition to the light rail will be popular among Republicans in greater Minnesota.
House Minority Leader Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, said in an email statement Thursday that passing a bonding bill or tax bill won’t be a problem if Democrats have the majority in the House, saying they will bring “a robust bonding bill and middle class tax relief to the House floor for a vote in the first 30 days of the next legislative session.”