Dayton warns against special session ‘grandstanding’

Gov. Mark Dayton met with four legislative leaders but still wasn;t ready to call a special session. Tim Pugmire|MPR News

Updated 7 p.m. | Posted 12:43 p.m.

DFL Gov. Mark Dayton says he won’t call a special session until all four legislative caucuses agree to work cooperatively to resolve the budget bills.

Dayton says he still wants to hold a one-day special session Friday. But after a brief meeting today with House and Senate leaders, he said he’s requiring strict parameters, including no amendments to the bills.

“These bills have to pass. They have to pass,” Dayton said.

“Do they have to pass unanimously? No," he added. "But if somebody is going to start to disrupt this whole process at this point by offering a self-serving amendment, I’m going to be very strongly opposed, and I’m going to be not bashful about going around to their respective districts and telling people in those districts that this kind of grandstanding is just not acceptable.”

(Dayton met privately Thursday evening with Senate Democrats. He offered a "no comment" as he left that meeting and headed for a discussion with House Democrats.)

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Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said he’s uncomfortable agreeing to no amendments until his members can hear from the governor.

“I appreciate the governor’s willingness to address the caucus and talk about kind of what a fragile agreement we have and how it could unravel if bills started to become amended,” Bakk said.

Bakk said he doesn’t know if there are enough Senate DFL votes to pass the reworked budget bills. He needed Republicans’ help to pass the first version of the agriculture and environment bill, and many Democrats remain opposed to that bill.

Twenty-nine Senate Democrats voted against it during the regular session, meaning Bakk needed the help of 25 Republicans to pass it.

Republican Senate Minority Leader David Hann of 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.”

Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville, said he hopes the bill is defeated in the special session, and then fixed.

“I don’t think that bills negotiated by a handful of people are something that everybody should go along with, if they have bad things in them,” Marty said.

House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, said he’s also confident that the budget bills will pass. Daudt said he was ready to sign the agreement for the special session.

“I, like every other leader here, is probably going to have to do some convincing in my caucus," said Daudt, "but I anticipate that we will have the votes to pass all these bills in the House, and my guess is they’ll be there in the Senate as well. It took us an awful lot of work and an awful lot of time to get to where we are today. I don’t think any of us wants to be seen as the person or the caucus who is standing in the way of that or unraveling that.”

Lawmakers also need to pass reworked versions of the education bill and jobs and energy bill. A bonding bill and legacy funding bill will also be on the special session agenda.

Action on the three budget bills is needed before July 1 to avoid a partial state government shutdown.

MPR's Tom Scheck contributed to this report.