In state legislature, special session likely

Lawmakers hope to hold a special legislative session in the third week of August.

Ryan Faircloth

After Minnesota lawmakers convened Friday morning, a special session in late August looks likely.

During the two-hour meeting, Gov. Mark Dayton and legislative leaders spoke at a press conference about their special session bid.

“I will say that we had a really good meeting,” said House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown.  “We have decided, I think, that it’s in the best interest of everyone if we do a special session.”

Daudt said they are aiming to hold the special session during the third week of August.

He said while they haven’t nailed down exact negotiations on the tax and bonding bills, they are hoping to come to an agreement soon.

Dayton also had positive remarks about the meeting, saying he was more optimistic about special session prospects than previously.

“Where there’s a will there’s a way, and I think there’s a will,” Dayton said.

However, the talks weren’t without compromise.

“I’ve agreed to give up my additional spending requests in the June 1 letter to the legislative leaders, and in return … keep all the bonding projects,” Dayton said.

But legislative leaders have yet to find common ground on the Southwest light rail project, which Daudt said he still doesn’t support.

“It’s one of the complexities that we haven’t totally worked out,” he said.

Dayton said the special session agenda would most likely not include a bill addressing police-community relations because there won’t be enough time to give that issue the attention it warrants beforehand.

“It absolutely is on my agenda for the regular session,” he said. “I want to have the opportunity to engage with various stakeholders in that process, and have something that … comes out that’s really thoughtful, and going to make a difference across the state.”

Daudt said a meeting with Dayton in early July helped spur discussion on important issues.

“I think we made some real progress that day, and I think that’s why you heard us having tones of increased cooperation and optimism that we’d actually get to a special session,” Daudt said.

A bonding bill that would include funding for state transportation and infrastructure projects is still in the works in the legislature. In addition, a tax bill that would provide breaks for student loan debtors, and a state income tax exemption for veterans’ retiree benefits are among other legislation pending state approval.

Daudt said the bills they agree on would be released to the public before the special session begins.