ST. PAUL, Minn. — In the continuing saga of a bizarre legislative session, Republican leaders have voted to sue Gov. Mark Dayton and his administration.
As reported by Alpha News, Dayton made the unprecedented decision to defund the Minnesota House and Senate, a move that could potentially jeopardize the jobs of dozens partisan and nonpartisan staff that ensure the Capitol is running year-round. Legislative leaders have announced they only have enough funds in their reserve to keep going for a month or two.
Both sides have publicly blamed the other for the turn of events that led to the end of session.
In a press conference last week, House Speaker Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) and Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-Nisswa) expressed their disappointment in Dayton’s decision to defund the legislature, calling the unparalleled decision “unconstitutional.”
However, Dayton placed the blame in the hands of Daudt and Gazelka, calling their “reprehensible sneak attack, a move which shatters any trust achieved during the session.”
In the initial letter sent to Legislative leaders from Dayton’s office, Dayton cites the legislature’s decision to include a “poison pill” provision in the State Government Omnibus Bill which would defund the Department of Revenue if the tax bill was not signed into law.
Daudt, who has refused to acknowledge any wrongdoing says the language was always in the bill and he assumed the Governor’s staff had found the language. He described the language as an insurance policy to make sure Dayton kept his word, stating the Governor had not kept his word in the past.
Legislative leaders, who refuse to call another special session, met on Friday whether to hire a law firm to take Dayton and his administration to court.
Democratic Minority Leader Rep. Melissa Hortman of Brooklyn Park stood firmly with Dayton stating legislators could meet without getting paid. Daudt noted the loss of wages for partisan and nonpartisan staff, but was quickly rebutted by Hortman, who claimed Daudt had no problem gambling the wages and work of more than 1,300 Department of Revenue employees with the language in the bill.
The legislative panel voted 7-2 in favor of going to court, with Republican leadership agreeing to hire the law firm of Kelley, Wolter, & Scott to represent the legislature in its legal battle against the Governor.
The firm which represented the Wetterling family, also has political ties. Douglas A. Kelley, one of the firm’s partners was listed as a trustee over the liquidating trust tied to the Tom Petters ponzi scheme and is a known conservative. Kevin Magnuson, who is of counsel at the firm has ties to the Minnesota Jobs Coalition.
Daudt was quick to note that the hiring of any law firm was not politically tied and said Kelley, Wolter, & Scott was willing to take the case at half of its $650 an hour rate.
Legislative leaders are expected to act quickly as the fiscal year ends on June 30 and their respective bodies will have to operate on reserve funds beginning on July 1.