St. Paul, MN-
Update: Governor Dayton said he will not call a special session. Dayton says legislative leaders remain at an “impasse.”
Today Governor Mark Dayton (DFL) is set to meet with legislative leaders to continue negotiations over a possible special session.
Last Friday Dayton, House Speaker Kurt Daudt (R- Crown) and Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk (DFL – Cook) left negotiations at an impasse, unable to negotiate their way around funding for the Southwest Light Rail Transit (SWLRT). SWLRT is a light rail extension project (METRO Green Line Extension) that would operate from downtown Minneapolis through St. Louis Park, Hopkins, Minnetonka and Eden Prairie.
In July the federal government approved the $1.84 billion project, moving it closer to construction. However, the project is on hold until it can garner the $135 million needed in local funding.
During a post-negotiations press conference Daudt said that his House Republican caucus would not support moving forward with any special session agreement that includes the light rail project while Bakk said his Senate DFL caucus would reject any deal without it.
Lawmakers failed to pass a bonding bill or transportation package during the 2016 legislative session. While they did pass a bipartisan tax relief bill, Dayton vetoed the bill due to a technical error. House Republicans, however, are telling Dayton to “keep his word” and not hold the tax relief bill “hostage” to his other priorities.
If lawmakers cannot find a compromise, all three bills will be in jeopardy. On MPR Dayton said talks may soon finish, saying, “If we don’t see some light at the end of the tunnel, I think it would be futile to continue to just sit and disagree with one another,” going on to say the special session isn’t even “up in the air,” but is “in the sub-basement.”
While all parties say they remain optimistic, the time for a special session to occur is diminishing as election looms closer and the campaigns ramp up.