Legislative Court Battle With Dayton Enters New Phase

Dayton Says He Won’t Back Down

Gazelka Daudt
(L-R) House Speaker Kurt Daudt, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (Preya Samsundar/Alpha News MN)

ST. PAUL, Minn.- The cost of the legal dispute between Gov. Mark Dayton and the Minnesota legislature has already reached close to a million dollars and the dispute is about to enter into its next stage, with neither side eager to back down.

According to the Minnesota Republican Caucus, the legislature filed a motion on Wednesday asking for the court to either uphold or clarify the July 20 ruling which restored the funding to the legislature and found Dayton’s actions to be unconstitutional. However, the MN Supreme Court on September 8, found Dayton’s actions to be constitutional, but did not overturn the ruling of the lower court.

“Since October 1, 2017 Governor Dayton and Commissioner Frans have been ignoring a court order, forcing the legislature to spend down its carry-forward funds,” said Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, “Today’s motion simply asks Judge Guthmann to enforce his July 20 judgment declaring Governor Dayton’s vetoes unconstitutional, giving us access to our rightful funding. We need clarity and we need the Governor to stop ignoring the judgment won by the legislature in district court.”  

A new argument that has come up in the motion is whether or not it is constitutional for Dayton to force the legislature to use its discretionary funds to offset the cost of keeping the legislature operating. The legislature argues that it is unconstitutional for Dayton to force the legislature to use its discretionary fund, whether directly or indirectly.

The introduction of two revised affidavits by the legislature, one by the Comptroller of House and the other the Comptroller of the Senate, in combination with statements made in the motion to the court, indicates that the legislature may be looking to focus much more on the financial aspects of the case.

201 senators and representatives serve communities across the state, providing a voice for everyday Minnesotans in the lawmaking process. It does not serve those communities well to have a legislature running on fumes, limiting constituent services and resorting to extreme measures to keep the lights on,” House Speaker Kurt Daudt said, alluding to the alleged threat presented to representational democracy by Dayton’s veto.

While Dayton has expressed some regret about the veto, most of it hinges on the revelation that the legislature had a great deal more carryover funding than was originally stated.

In a public comment on October 17, Dayton stated that he plans to stand his ground on the issues he wanted debated with the legislature.

What I was asking was for the Legislature to come back in the interim and negotiate revisions or rescissions to those five items and then bring it to a special session,” Dayton said, “if it doesn’t happen that way — if they are not willing to that, or whatever — I would take them to the regular session next February. Which I will do.”

Henry Carras