Dayton calls special session for Friday

Gov. Mark Dayton has called a special session for 10 a.m. Friday.

Dayton made the announcement late Thursday after the four legislative leaders signed an agreement limiting the special session agenda to six bills.

But there’s still no guarantee there are enough votes to pass all of the bills.

Some Senate Democrats aren’t happy with the ag and environment budget bill that they say rolls back environmental protections.

The governor made a personal pitch to Senate Democrats to support the bill but Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, says the meeting didn’t shift opinion in the room.

“I don’t think it changed many minds,” Bakk said. “I was a little surprised by that because he actually told people that he wanted the bill to pass.”

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Dayton declined comment on what he told Democrats in the private meetings.

Bakk said several Democrats aren’t happy with the bill and made promises to environmental advocacy groups that they won’t support it. Bakk said the measure will need Republican votes to pass but he wasn’t certain how many.

During the regular session, 29  Senate Democrats voted against it, meaning Bakk needed the help of 25 Republicans to pass it.

Senate Minority Leader David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, said there won’t be that many GOP votes this time.

“I think there will be fewer votes,” Hann said. “I told Sen. Bakk this morning that we know there are 10, and we’ll see where they are. But I think that the bills will ultimately pass.”

Several Democrats left the private meeting saying they still won’t support the ag and environment bill.

Sen. Jeff Hayden, DFL-Minneapolis, is one of them.

“This process of divided government has been extremely tough on people,” Hayden said. “When Democrats were running the show, we did really good stuff and now we’re having to try to compromise and that’s been extremely difficult.”

If the bill doesn’t pass, Bakk said they would have to “go back to the drawing board” and negotiate a different bill with House Republicans.

House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, said he is confident his caucus will support all of the budget bills. He also said he hasn’t lobbied Hann to pass the budget.

“If Sen. Bakk needs votes from the Senate Republicans I assume that he is asking them,” Daudt said. “I have not asked for any votes from any of them.”

The Legislature will also consider a budget bill that finances early childhood education and K-12 schools, a jobs and energy budget bill, a public works/bonding bill, a bill that spends dedicated sales tax money for the environment, clean water and the arts and a technical corrections bill.