by Jon Tollefson
MNA Government Affairs Specialist
What a strange weekend! Most of it spent waiting for Senate DFLers and House Republicans to announce any agreements at all, whether on transportation, taxes, bonding, or the supplemental budget. At least the weather was nice, and the new Senate Office Building has comfortable hearing rooms and a lovely terrace overlooking the Capitol.
As often happens at the end of session, the last day was a frantic mix of private negotiations, quick floor sessions – and a lot of waiting around.
The House and Senate, as unfortunately has become usual, waited until the very last possible hour to finalize their agreements
Even then, they didn’t actually agree. Each body passed the tax bill earlier in the day on Sunday and then the supplemental budget bill that they crafted together. But that left bonding and transportation still left to even be announced at 11 p.m. on Sunday, the last night in which they could pass bills.
House Republicans gave DFL House members ten minutes to look over the bonding spreadsheet in the hallway outside the chamber before having to vote on the bill, even though they still hadn’t handed out the language. DFL members tried to add amendments, but Speaker Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) called Third Reading and put the bill to a vote. In protest, DFLers did not vote, and without the 60% super majority he needed, Speaker Daudt had to reopen the bill for DFL amendments.
Down to roughly 15 minutes before the midnight adjournment, House DFLers withdrew their remaining amendments and helped pass the bonding bill so it could get to the Senate. A person literally had to run the bill between the buildings, which meant light rail could logistically interfere with the bonding bill, as well as politically.
This is where it gets good. With the bonding bill in hand with just about ten minutes left before midnight, Senate DFLers began to consider it when DFL Senator Ron Latz from St. Louis Park offered an amendment to affect the transit portion of the bill. The Senate adopted the amendment and passed the bill, and the runner ran off to the House.
Speaker Kurt Daudt learned of the amendment with five minutes left before midnight and huddled with Tax Chair Greg Davids (R-Preston) and Majority Leader Joyce Peppin (R-Rogers). In a bold move, the House quickly moved to adjourn Sine Die instead of receiving the amended bill.
That forced the Senate with just a few minutes left to reconsider the bonding bill – which they did not physically have in their possession. They tried a few procedural moves, but online viewers could hear Senate President Sandy Pappas (DFL-St. Paul) under her breath say, “It’s too late.” Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk (DFL-Cook) moved to adjourn, unable to reconsider the bonding bill before midnight.
This, my friends, is the story of the Minnesota Mess – similar in very few ways to the Minnesota Miracle of 1971.