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Special session: See what passed today and what's still up in the air


Minnesota lawmakers are cramped into St. Paul's State Office Building, sitting shoulder-to-shoulder as they work to finish the budget bills that didn't get finished during (or were vetoed after) the regular legislative session.

The special session officially started at 10 a.m. Friday. You can watch a live stream of the House proceedings here. The Senate live stream is here.

The parties – the GOP, the DFL, and Gov. Mark Dayton – have spent the past few weeks trying to hammer out agreements before calling the special session, and they appear to have gotten most of the way there, having announced a tentative budget deal Wednesday.

The big things on the to-do list

An omnibus jobs and energy bill, after Dayton vetoed the one passed during the regular session.

An K-12 education funding bill, which all sides seem to have come to an agreement on.

And an environmental and agricultural bill – which, despite hours of negotiations Thursday, still may not pass. Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said he didn't know if there were enough votes in support of it, the Star Tribune reports, with many Senate Democrats concerned it weakens environmental protections.

Check back here throughout the day – we'll update the story when big moves are made, and bills are passed or not passed.

What's happened so far

11 p.m. – House passes environmental bill again

The most contentious bill of this special session is now back where it started the day. The House approved the bill after reversing the Senate's amendments.

This means the original bill goes back to the Senate, where we'll see if anyone has changed their mind since it fell one vote short of approval this afternoon.

Before calling another recess, the House also approved a bill that corrects typos and mistakes that were made in the laws they passed during the regular session that ended in May.

10:45 p.m. – House votes to undo Senate changes to environmental bill

By voting to reverse this evening's Senate amendments, the House has restored the environmental/agricultural bill to the same version that was passed by the House but rejected by the Senate this afternoon.

The Republican author of the House bill, Dennis McNamara of Hastings, apparently believes the Senate now has enough yes votes to approve the measure.

10:10 p.m. – House is reconvening to consider amended enviro/ag bill

This scorecard remains current:

9 p.m. – Senate approves amended environmental bill; it goes back to House

In votes that were nearly along party lines, the DFL-controlled Senate voted to amended the bill funding environmental and agricultural programs.

Even though the ground rules for the special session included an agreement not to change the budget bills, Senators passed two amendments. One keeps intact the citizens advisory board that oversees the Pollution Control Agency; the other removes a part of the bill that exempted mining companies from solid waste rules.

Republicans in particular objected to the decision to change the bill, although two DFLers also vote against the amendments: the bill's chief author, David Tomassoni, and majority leader Tom Bakk, who had signed an agreement to oppose any amendments.

8:30 p.m. – Senate plans to vote on revised environmental bill

After a recess that lasted a few hours longer than planned, the Senate was reconvening to vote on a revised version of the environmental bill the chamber narrowly rejected in the afternoon.

DFL majority leader Tom Bakk told reporters the amended bill would preserve a citizen's board that oversees the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and would remove a provision that exempts mining companies from the rules governing solid waste disposal.

Those changes to the bill will apparently allow it to pass the Senate, but may not be acceptable to the Republican-controlled House.

The author of the House bill told MPR News amendments would not be approved by that chamber.

6:30 p.m. – Considering amending the environment bill

In their search for the extra vote needed to gain approval of the bill funding environmental and agricultural programs, Senators are considering amending the bill.

Changing the bill would be contrary to the agreement the four legislative caucus leaders signed Thursday spelling out the ground rules for the special session.

But DFL Senate majority leader Tom Bakk was reportedly checking with Gov. Dayton about the possibility of allowing the bill to be changed.

5:40 p.m. – Another vote likely on enviro/ag bill?

There's still no movement in the Senate chamber as lawmakers fail to make their planned 5:30 p.m. resumption, but in the meantime there has been some furious negotiating with the intention of getting another vote on the environment and agriculture bill that failed to pass earlier.

And the indication is that some "nay" voters have been won round.

4:20 p.m. – Yay! Recess!

Having debated the bonding bill they can't vote on, the Senate has joined the House in taking a recess, and are due to resume their seats in the chamber at 5:30 p.m.

3:50 p.m. – House holds onto bonding bill

The Senate is currently debating the bonding bill, but they can't pass it because the House hasn't handed it over yet. MPR's Tom Scheck reports the House is holding on before passing the bill itself and handing it over to the Senate, because the Senate didn't pass the enviro/ag bill.

Here's more information on the bonding bill, which features $373 million of public works projects, including $140 million for the re-routing of Highway 53 in Minnesota's Iron Range.

There remains hope that the impasse will be resolved soon.

3 p.m. – What happens with enviro/ag bill now?

With the Senate shooting down the environmental and agricultural bill, there are a couple possible scenarios.

1) Nothing more happens, and state parks are closed due to a partial government shut down and lack of funding, the Pioneer Press says.

2) The Senate can reconsider the vote and try again – but only if someone on the winning side (which in this case would be one of the 32 'nay' votes, since it didn't pass) brings it up again, Associated Press correspondent Brian Bakst tweeted. In that case, someone would have to change their vote.

The House is apparently not happy. That chamber is supposed to vote on a bonding bill and send it to the Senate to approve. But Tom Hauser says representatives could hold it hostage and not send it over until the Senate figured out the enviro/ag bill.

2:49 p.m.– Controversial environmental, agricultural bill fails

The big question mark on the day is less of one now.

The Senate voted on the controversial environmental and agricultural bill Friday afternoon and it did not pass despite more people voting for it than against. It needed 34 votes to be approved – the final vote count was 33 ayes, 32 nays.

The Senate immediately recessed after the vote. If no agreement is struck, it could mean a partial government shut down, affecting the availability of state parks.

2:38 p.m. – K-12 education bill gets through Senate, while House OKs Legacy bill

We have our second and third bills ready to go to Dayton's desk.

The Senate voted 53-12 in favor of the K-12 education funding bill, nearly bringing the long debate over how much more to spend to an end. The House had passed that bill about 80 minutes earlier.

And in the other chamber, the House overwhelmingly passed the Legacy bill the Senate had approved Friday morning.

1:20 p.m. – House passes K-12 education bill

The bill that essentially led to the special session clears its first hurdle.

Funding for K-12 education passed the House by a wide margin, 115-10.

This was a huge sticking point in the immediate wake of the legislative session, with Dayton and GOP leaders seemed stuck at an impasse over how much education spending should be increased – and whether universal pre-K should be included. Eventually Dayton relented on the early education demand, and Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt offered to increase his proposal to $525 million.

That's what the House approved Friday; it's expected to be passed by the Senate later as well.

12:45 p.m. – Senate passes jobs and energy bill

The Senate has passed the jobs and energy bill the House approved earlier Friday morning. It passed 50-14, with eight Republicans and six Democrats voting against it.

11:15 a.m. – House passes jobs and energy bill

About 75 minutes into the proceedings, the House passed the omnibus jobs and energy bill by a 78-47 vote. No Republicans voted against it. The bill now goes to the Senate.

The bill's sponsor, Republican Rep. Pat Garofalo, said the bill is 90-95 percent the same as the one Dayton vetoed last month, saying there wasn't enough funding for certain state agencies, the Session Daily says.

The new bill includes an added $18.5 million – but some DFLers were still unsatisfied, with Rep. Tim Mahoney of St. Paul calling it a "jobless jobs bill."

10:56 a.m. – Legacy bill passes Senate

The $540 million Legacy bill – which supports the state's arts, clean water, the outdoors and culture – was the first bill passed by either chamber Friday, when the Senate OK'd it by a 54-10 margin.

The legacy bill distributes tax money to different funds based on what's collected through the state's Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment (approved by voters back in 2008). The Rochester Post-Bulletin notes the House passed this in the closing minutes of the normal legislative session, but the Senate didn't have time to get to it.

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