In the final days and hours of the 2018 session, Gov. Mark Dayton and the Legislature still don’t see eye-to-eye on a number of key issues. One thing they can agree on: passing an emergency safe schools funding package.
It has been a hot topic all session, but following a deadly attack at a Texas high school on Friday, lawmakers are feeling an increased urgency to address the issue. The path forward, however, remains unclear.
The topic dominated a midday meeting between Dayton and Republican legislative leaders, which Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-Nisswa) said was brief but productive.
House Speaker Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) said leaders were disheartened to hear about the tragedy in Texas and emphasized that school safety has been, and continues to be, their main concern.
“If nothing else happens this session, I want to make sure that school safety legislation gets signed into law,” he said. “Now don’t read into what I just said and think that I believe nothing else is going to, but that’s my way of saying this is our No. 1 priority and it has been for some time.”
House Minority Leader Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park) agreed that safety is a priority and stressed urgency in passing legislation to address the problem.
“We can work together as Republicans and Democrats on the school safety proposals to get them to the governor’s desk by themselves in standalone bills,” she said. “We can do that today. We should do that today.”
Republican and DFL leaders planned to reconvene Friday evening to continue their discussions.
Where things stand
Before midnight Sunday, when time runs out to pass legislation, the Republican-controlled Legislature wants to pass tax reform, a bonding bill and a supplemental funding bill, among others. However, all three initiatives are in limbo.
Gazelka said they touched on these topics during the meeting and felt confident that they would be able to find agreement.
“We did talk about how to get through all the other things that we need to get through,” he said. “There are people working on it in both the House and Senate, and the governor’s staff. So, I feel comfortable that we are on a good path there.”
Dayton sounded less optimistic about finding common ground. With time running out, he repeated his promise to not call a special session, and said that if key bills are not passed it’s the result of the Republican Legislature’s mismanagement.
“I’ve said absolutely, firmly, emphatically, I’ll say it again — no special session,” he said. “They had the majority, both House and Senate. How can they not get their work done?”
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