Dayton vetoes civil lawsuit bills, blasts GOP leadership

2012 Legislature opens
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, seen here at the start of the 2012 Legislative session, vetoed the first bills sent to him this session on Friday, Feb. 10, 2012.
MPR Photo/Jennifer Simonson

DFL Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed the first bills sent to him this session on Thursday, and he used the occasion to blast Republican legislative leaders.

Dayton rejected a group of GOP-backed bills that would have changed the rules for civil lawsuits. His veto letters described the bills as "legislative meddling."

During a news conference, Dayton said it was difficult to take the bills seriously because Republicans ignored the recommendations of judicial leaders and never contacted him or his staff.

"It is hard for me to believe that this rush-it-to-pass-it strategy had any expectation of creating laws," Dayton said. "Instead it appears to be just another political ploy by the Republican majorities, as they provide their special interest friends, the rich and the powerful with more favoritism and favors at the expense of most other Minnesotans."

Dayton said the GOP claim that the measures would help grow jobs was "laughable." The bills would have mostly benefited large insurance companies in other states, he added.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem said he was disappointed by the vetoes and the governor's comments.

"Get off the rhetoric," Senjem said. "It's not productive. We can do better than this, and we will do better than this. But the name-calling is, I think, is not productive."

Republican House Speaker Kurt Zellers said he was disappointed by the vetoes, as well as Dayton's comments. Zellers said the governor owes an apology and an explanation to the businesses who sought the changes.

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