The Minnesota Legislative began a special session Friday morning with leaders telling rank-and-file lawmakers that they should be prepared to spend their Memorial Day weekend in St. Paul if progress is slow.
On the agenda: a series of bills comprising a new $48 billion two-year budget for the state, details of which have been worked out by top leaders in marathon closed-door meetings over the past four days.
One of those leaders, DFL Gov. Tim Walz, paid a visit to the Senate Democratic caucus an hour before the official start of the overtime session. After spending so much time with the chamber's Republican majority leader these past weeks, Walz was there to ask a helping hand from the minority.
"It's time to get the work done for Minnesota, so we're confident we'll get there," he said. "We're all working for the same goal."
It's a bit out of the governor's hands. The Legislature would need to go through extraordinary lengths to adopt the budget in a day's time, setting aside the typical paces bills get put through. Changing that process depends on supermajority votes to suspend rules.
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The House minority leader at least wasn't having it. It's unfair to expect members to pass bills they haven't had much time to study, said Republican Rep. Kurt Daudt.
"Let's let them marinade," he said Friday morning. "Let's let the public be able to absorb what's in them."
A massive health and human services budget plan hadn't even come back from the printer by the time Daudt spoke.
DFL House Speaker Melissa Hortman said many of the proposals have had airings in recent weeks, even if the final product hadn't. She said the session would continue if Republicans oppose waiving the rules.
"We're going to keep going until we're done," Hortman said.
That's even if Friday turns into Saturday and then Sunday with debates and votes along the way.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka said he's in tune with that thinking, but that doesn't mean he's excited about pulling weekend duty.
"I am not going to be a happy camper if we're here Sunday. We can get it all done today. It just takes a little bit of cooperation from everybody," he said. "If we just do that, we can all enjoy Memorial Day weekend and also all the things that circle around that holiday."
One bill quickly advanced through the Senate to fund agriculture programs and free up $40 million for broadband grants. It passed earlier in the week, too, but got hung up in the House prior to the regular session's end.
Tougher votes lie ahead. That includes a tax bill that cuts some income and business taxes but keeps a health care tax that was supposed to expire.
Daudt said Democrats will have to pass that on their own because it raises more money than it sends out in relief.
"I don't suspect that the tax bill will get a single Republican vote," Daudt said.
Gazelka said he thinks he's rounded up at least 34 votes, the minimum number for passage.
"We did not want to do the provider tax continuing it. We agreed to have it 10 percent less than it was," Gazelka said. "But we have a lot of other really good provisions in there that people like, whether it's the middle-class tax cut, business property taxes going down, ag property tax relief. There are just a number of things in there that our legislators like."
Democratic House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler said his side left priorities on the table, too. He's taken to calling this a status-quo result.
"We came in wanting to have paid family and medical leave for all Minnesotans," he said. "We wanted to have a MinnesotaCare buy-in so people could have affordable health insurance all over the state. We wanted to address gun violence prevention."
He said the losses come with the territory.
"In divided government, the fact we were able to get a budget put together close to on-time and serve the basic needs of the people of Minnesota is a good first step, but there's so much more to do."
• Insulin help: Despite solid votes, provision falls out of final deal
In the last day, supporters of measures to reduce the costs and increase access to insulin for diabetics were outraged they didn't wind up in the budget. Speaker Hortman says it was the last thing left behind.
"At a certain point, we ran out of time to fight anymore on the issues we care about," she said. "There are a lot of things we care deeply about that we fought until the very last minute: driver's licenses for all, the sexual harassment standard and this insulin provision."