One night of overtime was not nearly enough for the Legislature to complete its crafting of a 2018-19 biennial state budget.
In an overnight session featuring hostility between some members of opposite parties and an oftentimes less-than-positive tone of discussion, just two outstanding omnibus bills were passed: taxes and education.
But with negotiations continuing throughout the day between legislative leaders and Dayton, along with the time needed for nonpartisan legislative staff to produce final agreements, House Speaker Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) acknowledged at about 10 p.m. Tuesday that may not happen.
Left unfinished after nearly five months of session were bills that comprise about 70 percent of the projected $46 billion budget for the upcoming biennium, including education, health and human services, state government and transportation. A package of tax cuts and a nearly $1 billion capital investment bill are also sought.
A public pre-emption bill that, in part, would prevent cities from setting their own labor standards, such as minimum wage, was to be debated as a standalone bill. Dayton previously said he will veto it.
However, that bill now includes, pension provisions, parental leave for state employees and state contracts, things Daudt said are “related.”
In a statement, Dayton said, "It is unconscionable that Republican legislators would pit the earned financial security of hardworking state employees and retirees against the rights of local officials to make the decisions for which they were elected by their citizens. Nevertheless, I have said that I will veto the preemption bill, and I will honor that commitment.”
Unity was infrequent, but partisanship aplenty, for some early-morning debate on the House Floor.
“Doing this kind of stuff at night, having debate that I’ve heard tonight with the tone, the acrimony that I’m hearing … this isn’t Minnesota. I’m disappointed,” Rep. Laurie Halverson (DFL-Eagan) said just before 3 a.m.
Called into session 12 hours earlier, the House spent more than eight hours in recess before taking up the tax bill with a plan that the remaining bills would follow as night turns into morning. Members were gaveled in about 11:30 p.m. before a motion was made to suspend a rule to meet past midnight.
After about 45 minutes of inactivity on the House Floor, Rep. John Lesch (DFL-St. Paul) used a point of parliamentary inquiry at about 12:20 a.m. to ask, “What are we doing here?” Speaker Pro Tempore Rep. Tony Albright (R-Prior Lake) sat down and did not answer.
Seven amendments were ultimately offered during a time in which each side began to blame the other for the House unable to meet the 7 a.m. deadline. In one testy exchange, House Majority Leader Joyce Peppin (R-Rogers) questioned House Minority Leader Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park) about fulfilling the agreement signed by Dayton and legislative leaders which states caucus leaders will not support amendments to the bills.
Hortman said she was not supporting any amendments, but noted other members of her caucus are not bound by the agreement and they, too, have election certificates. Hortman also said she won't sign an agreement to go into second day of special session without a concession she would not publicly disclose.
The omnibus education bill was passed about 6 a.m. Wednesday. The omnibus transportation bill was introduced shortly thereafter, but quickly tabled.
Five omnibus bills — agriculture, environment and natural resources, higher education, jobs and economic development, and judiciary and public safety — were passed before the regular session ended Monday night.
Without a budget agreement by June 30, parts or all of state government could shut down.
The 2018 session is scheduled to start Feb. 20 at noon.
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