Bristling slightly over questions about openness, Gov. Mark Dayton, House Speaker Kurt Zellers and Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch announced late this morning that they have agreed on all bills and that a special session — with special rules — will begin at 3 p.m.
After a record 19-day shutdown, everything suddenly is based on speed.
Normal legislative rules have been waived, no amendments will be allowed, and it’s clear that leaders expect quick passage of the budget bills, the Legacy Amendment funding bill and a $500 million bonding bill.
Both Zellers and Koch said they have the votes to ensure passage of the bills, though they did say there’s apt to be some legislative venting over many of the bills.
Zellers said that legislators will be allowed “to pontificate” as long as they want, but that changes will not be accepted.
Overall, though, it was clear that Zellers expects the Legislature to move quickly on the bills.
“It’s better to put Minnesota back to work than talk about these bills,” Zellers said.
What of openness? Public input? Transparency?
“I would flatly reject” the charge that these bills essentially were put together in secret, Zellers said.
Most of the work on the bills was done during the regular session, he argued.
He then added there have been some “minor changes” worked in some of the bills. And strangely, he added there also have been some “major” changes.
He noted that the Capitol was opened this morning and the public will be able to come in and watch the legislative process.
But, of course, that appears to be a done deal.
Dayton, too, defended the process that has led to what appears to be an end to the shutdown.
The Capitol and state office buildings, he said, were closed on orders from the courts. It was the courts, he said, who deemed the buildings “unessential.”
Dayton went on to say that once he and the legislative leaders were able to reach agreement on the broad outlines of a compromise settlement last Thursday, it was determined that it was necessary “to get this done as swiftly as possible.”
That was none too swift.
Both the governor and Republican leaders were trying to spin the outcome as much as possible.
Without being specific, Zellers said that there are “reforms” contained in the bills that “will change Minnesota for a generation.”
For her part, Koch said there’s “relief” that this is done.
“But there’s also mixed emotions,” she said. “We didn’t get everything we wanted.”
She said she’s eager to get this business done, take a few days off and then start preparing for next January so political leaders can resume the business of “reforming government.”