Gov. Mark Dayton sent a letter to Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Daudt Tuesday, asking House Republicans to agree to a special legislative session to extend unemployment benefits to mine workers on the Iron Range and to begin to address economic disparities affecting people of color in Minnesota.
"I request that the special session include a $15 million investment to improve economic outcomes in communities of color. I will make a specific proposal for the use of those funds, after I have consulted with impacted communities," wrote Dayton, adding that more work on the issue could come during the regular session which is set to begin in March.
Dayton also noted that unemployment benefits for hundreds of Iron Range workers will run out before the start of the March session, "through no fault or choice of their own."
House Republicans were expected to meet behind closed doors Tuesday afternoon, but so far the reaction to the governor's request for a special session has been cool.
At a St. Paul fundraiser for Iron Range food shelves Monday night, House Majority Leader Joyce Peppin, R- Rogers, said members of her caucus don’t have a big appetite for a special session. Peppin said she believes the issues Dayton raised can wait until the regular session.
“It seems as though every month we’ve had a new proposal," Peppin said. "One for fish, one for REAL ID, this one and several different ideas. So there have been so many proposals, that I think members are a little burned out on the different proposals.”
Although the governor has the power to call a special session, he wants Republicans to agree to the agenda beforehand so that it could be limited in scope and duration.
Here is Dayton's Letter.
Speaker Daudt issued this statement after the House GOP caucus meeting:
"After a phone conversation with the governor yesterday, our plan is to meet early next week to talk about these issues in further detail. Gov. Dayton issued a letter today saying he doesn't want to interfere or delay on Sandpiper and Polymet, but it appears that he and his administration have been doing just that by disrupting the permitting process for Sandpiper and proposing new, unnecessary studies for PolyMet. We look forward to working with the governor to find long term solutions for folks on the Iron Range and all across Minnesota."