Weary lawmakers pass final budget bills, wrap 2017 special session

By Mike Cook
House Speaker Kurt Daudt and House Minority Leader Melissa Hortman confer on the House Floor during a recess early Thursday afternoon. Photo by Andrew VonBank

(UPDATED AT 3:27 p.m. with Gov. Dayton reaction)

Day three of the 2017 special session saw lawmakers pass final omnibus bills to be sent to Gov. Mark Dayton, with weary House members wrapping up their work at 2:42 a.m. Friday following a week of long days — and nights — at the State Capitol.

Legislators finished a tax bill that includes extended bar close times for next year’s Super Bowl in Minneapolis, an omnibus education bill that includes $483 million in new money, and a transportation bill with $300 million in new General Fund dollars. A bill to fund state government is also on its way to the governor, as is a health and human services bill that spends more than $15 billion.

Additionally, a uniform state labor standards bill was passed by both chambers but is expected to be vetoed by the governor. Dayton has said he is against the pre-emption language that would, in part, bar cities from enacting minimum wage ordinances.

Finally, calling himself a legislative closer, Rep. Dean Urdahl (R-Grove City) quickly presented a nearly $1 billion bonding bill. Fifteen minutes later, House members filed out of the Chamber after passing the borrowing package on a 119-11 vote.

Lawmakers are scheduled to convene next on Feb. 20, 2018.

Now it's up to Gov. Mark Dayton to act on the special session measures and the five budget bills passed in the regular session that weren’t yet sent to him. At a Friday afternoon news conference, he said he is "generally undecided" about the bills. He needs to act on them by Tuesday.

“This legislative session will go down as one of the most productive in recent memory,” House Speaker Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) said in a statement. “Working under divided government, we balanced our state budget and successfully passed key priorities including tax relief, road and bridge funding, and health care reforms."

Daudt said he is “proud Republican majorities delivered the largest tax cut in nearly two decades and the largest investment in road and bridge infrastructure in state history without a tax increase.”

House Minority Leader Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park) had a different assessment.

“The Republican Legislature prioritized the interests of corporations and the wealthy — and played politics with our children’s education, wages and benefits for workers, Minnesotans’ health care, and transportation,” she said in a statement. “In the end, special interests like big tobacco and the insurance companies did well this session while the Republican budget left Minnesota's working families behind.”

After failing to complete its work by Monday’s constitutional deadline, Dayton called members into special session at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday. The initial plan was to have the outstanding budget bills finished by 7 a.m. Wednesday, even though complete details had yet to be worked out. 

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