Sen. Hann floated an interesting idea this week. Get all legislative work for the entire biennium (2015 and 2016) done during this session and skip the 2016 session altogether.
His reasoning being that because of Capitol rennovation, most of the Capitol itself will be shut down. Only the House chambers would be open.
Hann does say that there needs to be a broader discussion.
Oh, yes indeed — let’s have that discussion.
I don’t like the idea and I’ll give you at least 3 reasons why.
1) Pushes too much work into small time frame. It might be different if this had been proposed last year and the legislature had time to prepare for this possibility. As it stands now, both Houses would be cramming 2 years worth of work into one and doing it virtually on the fly.
2) Gives incumbents a distinct fundraising advantage. Minnesota law does not allow incumbents to fundraise during a working session….for obvious reasons. But once this “super” session is over, they can start raising money immediately without a break for over 1 year prior to the 2016 election. They could all have some pretty hefty war chests before their opponents have even filed or have even been determined.
3) No notice bonding bill. Most local governments are just now in the process of determining their 2016 budget needs. How in the world could they determine what kind of bonding requests to put forward in the next few months with so little time to evaluate? Frankly, it seems like a Republican ploy to reduce the size of the bonding bill from its point of origin. It would probably create a huge backlog going into the 2017-18 biennium and force more projects to be delayed — and eventually cost more.
I would also venture that this is a discreet ploy to try and lessen the actual importance of building that new Senate Office building. Since the House will be able to still meet in the Capitol building, completion of the Senate office building just prior to the 2016 session would highlight the strategic importance of getting that construction project passed. The building is scheduled to be completed in January 2016, just in time for the 2016 session:
When it opens in January 2016, the building would be home to 67 state senators and their staff, moving them from the Capitol and an adjacent building now used primarily for House members. The new building could also be the temporary meeting space for senators during an ongoing renovation of the state Capitol that isn’t scheduled to finish until 2017.
Opening the building at that time would offer the citizens of Minnesota proof of why the Senate considered the building at the time they did and make the nearly 2 year long Republican arguments against it moot.
Yes, Senator Hann — more discussion is needed.
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