Minnesota lawmakers did not quite meet their Monday night deadline for getting their work done. But less than an hour before the clock struck midnight, the governor and legislative leaders announced they have a budget agreement.
They'll just need a special session to approve it.
Under rules laid out in the state Constitution, Monday was the last day of the 2017 Minnesota Legislature. The biggest assignment facing legislators was passing a two-year budget that's expected to total roughly $46 billion.
Leaders of the Republican-controlled House and Senate and their aides have been meeting with DFL Gov. Mark Dayton and his staff for days, trying to work out agreements on the 10 bills that together make up the state budget. They only got five of the 10 passed before midnight.
But after 11 p.m. Dayton emerged with House Speaker Kurt Daudt and Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka to announce they'd reached an agreement in principle on the remaining bills, including big ones like taxes and health care.
Since there wasn't enough time left to approve it before they had to adjourn, Dayton called a special session. It began right after midnight but the plan was for lawmakers to go get some sleep and come back Tuesday for a push to the finish line, The Associated Press reports.
"We reached across the table and shook hands," Gazelka told the Star Tribune. Dayton and the legislative leaders also signed a paper – called a term sheet – in which they promise not to change the agreement or add anything else during the special session.
Here's what happened before the late-night announcement.
7 p.m. – Public safety is done
That public safety bill was approved by the Senate, it'll go to Dayton now.
A special sessions is also appearing more likely, considering they've got five hours now (or less, depending on when you're reading this) to finish and pass five bug budget bills. And Sen. Paul Gazelka, a Republican leader, is saying:
There's also been some fun social media sniping going on, like this exchange between the Minnesota House DFL, a conservative tweeter, and State Auditor/2018 gubernatorial candidate Rebecca Otto:
5:15 p.m. – Dinner break, public safety almost done
There's been a little movement from Monday morning, and at about 5 p.m. lawmakers went into recess so they could grab some dinner. (They will probably be at the Capitol until after midnight.)
Monday afternoon the House approved the compromise bill (referred to as a conference committee report) covering public safety and finance, by a 98-36 vote. The Senate took it up around 5:30 p.m., after returning from break – if they approve it, it'll go to Gov. Mary Dayton.
That would still leaves five sizable budget bills to get done in less than seven hours here.
One point of interest: A compromise in the conference committee report for the public safety bill.
Democrats scored a victory by forcing out language that would have made freeway protesting a harsher crime. In exchange, the Pioneer Press reports Republicans got to include language that specifically bars undocumented residents from getting a driver's license – a sticking point that held up the Real ID debate for a bit. The People of Color and Indigenous Caucus put out a statement arguing that law makes Minnesota less safe.
Meanwhile Rep. Nick Zerwas, who spearheaded the protest penalties bill, tweeted he thinks it'll come back as a standalone next year.
10 a.m. – Four of 10 bills sent to Dayton
They're making some progress – so far the House and Senate have passed four of the 10 budget bills:
– And on Monday morning, both chambers passed a jobs and economic development budget bill, so that's off to Gov. Dayton's desk, too. This bill doesn't include an internet privacy provision that had bipartisan support.
It's unclear if Dayton will sign these bills.
Special session looming?
If lawmakers don't pass all the bills in the budget by midnight Monday, they'll have to return for a special session to finish their work in order to avoid what happened back in 2011 – the longest government shutdown in state history.
House Speaker Kurt Daudt, a Republican from Crown, told the Pioneer Press late Sunday he's hopeful the Legislature will meet the deadline, but some bills could take 12 hours to draft, noting "you want to make sure you get that right." (Remember last year? A typo in a tax cut bill that was pushed through at the very end of the session prompted Dayton to veto it.)
MPR News has a breakdown of possible scenarios if no deal is reached by the deadline.