And so it begins: Special session underway in St. Paul


It took weeks of negotiations for Gov. Mark Dayton and House Republican leaders to finally come to an agreement on the terms of a new budget for Minnesota.

Even then, there were doubts about whether it would be approved by lawmakers.

But we'll apparently find out Friday.

A special session to sort out the unfinished business from the legislative session began at 10 a.m. Friday.

You can watch a live stream of the House proceedings here. The Senate live stream is here.

It came together after an agreement that came around by Thursday night, when the four signatures of the House and Senate leaders of the DFL and Republican caucuses were on a document laying out the terms of a special session, allowing Dayton to call it.

Senate DFL majority leader Tom Bakk was the last of the four to sign.

Earlier Thursday, Dayton was adamant he would not call a special session unless lawmakers agreed to make no changes to the three budget bills he negotiated in private meetings with Daudt, the Star Tribune reports.

Daudt told KSTP few, if any, amendments are likely during the session, which he expects will end by late afternoon.

Meanwhile, there were doubts about whether enough lawmakers would support the compromise budget agreement for it to gain approval.

In particular, a bill funding environmental and agricultural programs generated complaints among the rank-and-file legislators who were not part of the last few weeks' negotiations.

WCCO reports the concerns raised by DFLers range from the bill's elimination of a citizens board that oversees the Pollution Control Agency to the raiding of a fund set aside for landfill cleanup.

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MPR News says Dayton was insistent that the time has come for lawmakers to look past what they don't like about the budget bills and pass them to avoid Minnesota's third government shutdown in a decade.

DFL Senate majority leader Tom Bakk was not ready to promise no amendments in a special session, MPR reports. Bakk told the network he appreciated Dayton's willingness to meet directly with lawmakers late Thursday and explain "...what a fragile agreement we have and how it could unravel if bills started to become amended.”

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