Special session hinges on focus

Lora Pabst

Gophers fans fixing for an on-campus stadium might have something to cheer about.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty might call a special session if legislators agree to meet a list of pre-set conditions that would help ensure an efficient session.

Pawlenty sent a letter to the four legislative leaders, outlining 11 issues that could be addressed during a potential special session this fall, including a Gophers stadium.

The letter sent to House Speaker Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon, State Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson, DFL-Willmar, Senate Minority Leader Dick Day, R-Owatonna, and House Minority Leader Matt Entenza, DFL-St. Paul, also included four conditions that must be met before Pawlenty would call a special session.

The conditions require pre-agreement on issues to be considered in a special session, pre-agreement on the content of the bills to be discussed, pre-agreement on the demonstration of legislators’ support for the issues and for a short special session.

If the legislative leaders and their caucuses can agree on issues to discuss during a special session, Pawlenty hopes to decide by mid-October whether a special session will take place.

The issues include bills for new Gophers, Twins and Vikings stadiums, a new Maple Grove hospital, constitutional amendments for funding conservation with existing sales taxes and defining marriage between one man and one woman. Other issues include a transportation funding plan, pension issues and a repeal of the law that set a minimum price for gasoline sales.

Whatever issues all four leaders can agree on are the only issues that will be addressed during a special session, Pawlenty said in his letter.

Sviggum will respond to the governor Tuesday – the deadline for a decision on the issues and conditions.

His reaction was “very positive because the governor was outreaching and engaging citizens through their representatives to make a decision about a special session and its agenda,” Sviggum said.

He said he would support a special session only if there is “a great deal of order” and if it lasted only a few days.

Johnson urged the governor two weeks ago to consider a special session.

“The stadium issues are not going to go away,” Johnson said in a previous interview. “We need to be thoughtful and get the best deal.”

Johnson previously identified the week of Thanksgiving as an ideal time for a special session because it would encourage legislators to complete the session quickly.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.