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Dayton, GOP legislative leaders find some common ground at first breakfast session

Rep. Kurt Daudt said there was agreement on the Capitol restoration efforts and on considering some campaign and election changes.

Rep. Kurt Daudt: “We talked about issues where we thought we could agree and where we disagree.”
MinnPost photo by James Nord

There’s nothing like a breakfast of scrambled eggs and hash browns in the elegant yet cozy dining room of the Governor’s Residence to take the edge off political harshness.

Gov. Mark Dayton, continuing his tradition of breakfasts with legislative leadership, hosted his first one of the session Thursday morning with GOP minority leaders Rep. Kurt Daudt and Sen. David Hann.

“It was a very cordial meeting,” said Daudt. “We talked about issues where we thought we could agree and where we disagree.”

The former was the shorter list, but Daudt said that’s where much of the breakfast talk was focused.  In addition to the restoration of the Capitol, “a very bipartisan thing” in Daudt’s words, the three men discussed election changes.

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Daudt is a proponent of a June primary, as is Dayton, providing some common ground to talk about legislation on other election issues.  “We both agree that we should do some campaign finance reforms,” Daudt said, “including raising the campaign contribution limits.”

Figuring high on the disagreement list are the state’s heath care exchange to implement the federal health care law and the proposed state budget, which Dayton is scheduled to deliver on Tuesday.

Daudt said that there was little detail on the budget — “We didn’t expect the governor to divulge specifics” — but some serious talk on the health care exchange.

“There are things in the bill now that are unworkable,” he said. “We expressed some concerns with the governor, and he understood that.”

Daudt declined to give specifics but said he told Dayton that if Republican objections were considered, “our people would be able to come to the table.”

Daudt, who is likely to play good cop to Hann’s bad cop during the session, said the meeting ended with the promise of meeting over breakfast every other week.  It remains to be seen whether, in the heat of the session, hot coffee will be enough to keep the governor, the DFL and the GOP on speaking terms.