Minnesota Speaker of the House Kurt Daudt said that he doubts there will be a special legislative session.
“I think it’s probably not real likely were gonna end up having a special session,” he told a meeting of the Republican Seniors of Minnesota in Bloomington earlier this week. “We’re about two months from the beginning of our regular session and there’s a point at which it just becomes – it doesn’t make a lot of sense for us to call everybody back in for a one day special session.”
In an interview, Daudt expounded on his reluctance. “We’re still open to it, but it’s not likely to happen simply because there are so many issues on the table,” he said. “The more issues you get on the table the more difficult it is for everybody to agree.”
Daudt and DFL Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk have organized working groups to reach consensus on a host of issues: additional unemployment benefits for steel workers on the Iron Range; compliance with the federal regulation for enhanced security information on state driver’s licenses; and addressing income disparities between black and white Minnesotans.
But Daudt said he’s not a fan of pre-agreeing on bills to be considered at a special session, a practice used to ensure that the sessions run smoothly and quickly. “I really don’t like that because I’m kind of signing away my members’ constitutional right to debate and offer amendments,” he said.
Gov. Mark Dayton has given legislative leaders a Friday deadline to decide if there is enough progress to warrant a special session. If not, Daudt said, “It doesn’t mean that we can’t take up these issues… really early in the regular session.”
House Republicans will focus on two priorities in the regular session, Daudt told the gathering of more than 100 GOP seniors: tax relief and transportation.
He predicted Republicans would offer a transportation bill that he says would put “$6 or $7 billion into roads and bridges over ten years and do it without raising any taxes.” He noted that Dayton has said he does not expect a gas tax increase to be part of the transportation debate.
On tax relief, Daudt was specific. “One of the things that I really care about and that I want to accomplish is exempting social security income [from the state income tax],” he said. “We are one of seven states in the country that taxes social security income. That’s going to be a huge priority of ours this session.”
To that, the Republican Seniors of Minnesota responded with a sustained burst of applause.