No MN Legislature Special Session Agreement Reached

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and House Speaker Kurt Daudt meet to negotiate special session. Photo credit The Uptake.

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton (DFL) and House Speaker Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) meet for final contentious special session agenda negotiations; fail to reach agreement.

St. Paul, Minnesota There will be no December 20, 2016 special session in the Minnesota Legislature.  House Speaker Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) left the National Conference of State Legislatures Symposium in St. Thomas (US Virgin Islands) a day early to meet with Governor Mark Dayton to attempt to finalize the agenda for the proposed special session.  The two leaders decided to hold their meeting in front of the media because they both felt that the other was misrepresenting their private statements to the media.  The meeting took 17 minutes. The Uptake caught the final contentious minutes, showing Dayton standing up from the table with Daudt standing shortly afterward:

The two lawmakers exchanged barbs, with Dayton insisting that without an agreement, there could be no special session, and Daudt retorting “If you feel strongly about this Governor, you call a session.  You can do it. Call it for next Wednesday and we’ll send you a bill.” Daudt went on to say that he wanted “real relief” (insurance premiums) January 1st.  The two continued arguing until Dayton stood up from the table while saying, “No you don’t…You just set this up, made an offer I have to refuse so that you can avoid the blame for not doing the premium relief.”

According to the Pioneer Press, the lack of agreement between the leaders leaves an estimated 100,000 Minnesotans without relief from skyrocketing health insurance premiums; the $260 million tax cut plan won’t be implemented and the $1 billion public works bonding bill won’t be passed.  

The breakdown in negotiations came when Dayton sent proposed wording for each issue that was to be taken up in the special session; which Daudt and other legislators felt short-changed Republican plans while giving the Democrats every thing they asked for.  But the breaking point came with the inability of the two sides to agree on the health insurance premium relief package.  As the Pioneer Press reported:

The final policy sticking point was that insistence by Daudt on an extra measure of health insurance relief. In addition to writing checks to help Minnesotans pay their premiums, Daudt wanted language helping people in the middle of treatment for cancer and other diseases to keep their doctors as they switch to new plans. That could help people right away on Jan. 1, he said, while a premium rebate program could take weeks to set up.
Dayton said that “continuity of care” idea sounded great — but needed a few more weeks worth of work to develop…Daudt said it needed to be passed right away to help Minnesotans in need; Dayton said the whole mess could have been avoided if Daudt had offered it earlier.


Dayton’s claim that Daudt’s plan was not offered earlier is somewhat disingenuous: Alpha News reported in early October a series of plans the MN GOP offered to “fix” the ailing MNSure system, including: long-term fixes to stabilize the insurance market by “increasing certainty and affordability for consumers, eliminating unnecessary costs to the state, and restoring market stability.” Proposals to achieve this include requiring the Minnesota Department of Commerce and the Minnesota Department of Health to “draft a transition plan from MNsure to a federal-state partnership exchange,” and by allowing for-profit HMOs to participate in the individual market.”

Now that the special session negotiations have come to an end with no deal, the three issues could still be taken up by the legislature when it reconvenes on Jan. 3, 2017. However, Daudt has stated that there will be no public works bonding bill until 2018.

Not everyone is disappointed with the failure of Dayton and Daudt to agree to a special session.  As Alpha News previously reported, Action 4 Liberty, political non-profit that promotes free markets, limited government and fiscal responsibility, started running ads on Dec. 15, urging Daudt and Republicans to hold off on a special session.  

In statements to Alpha News, Jack Rogers and Jake Duesenberg, Action 4 Liberty founders, weighed in on the issue, stating:

I’m pleased to see that taxpayers were saved $2 Billion by not having a special session snuck in before Christmas. We look forward to seeing the new legislature get to work in January returning the budget surplus back to the taxpayers of this state. ~ Jake Duesenberg
I was betting that we would have a special session and am relieved that it appears that it will not happen.  I was happy to see that Speaker Daudt did not back down from Governor Dayton even though Speaker Daudt did say he did want to have a special session.  I hope with his new found courage he will push the House and Governor Dayton to fix and not prop up the failed Obamacare/MNsure program and have it nullified and our winning MN healthcare program we had put back in place at their original rates that individuals, families and small businesses can afford.  It will be important to watch the MN House Majority and the MN Senate Majority lead the way out of the excess regulation,  excessive massive spending and over taxing.  Time will tell. ~ Jack Rogers 

If the public special session negotiation is any indicator of the tenor of the upcoming legislative session, the public may be treated to fireworks in the Capitol before Independence Day.
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Andrea Mayer-Bruestle

Andrea Mayer-Bruestle is a former writer for Alpha News.