Today’s ‘speedy’ special session will have special rules

Today's 'speedy' special session will have special rules

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.

Speaker Zellers
Speaker Zellers

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.”

Majority Leader Koch
Majority Leader Koch

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.”

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Comments (7)

  1. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 07/19/2011 - 12:32 pm.

    ….Zellers said that there are “reforms” contained in the bills that “will change Minnesota for a generation.”….

    Now why would that make me wish that there were more people in the room?

  2. Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 07/19/2011 - 12:42 pm.

    Reforms contained in the *budget bills* that will change Minnesota for a generation?!? And you can’t specify? Oh, there will be reforms come the next election. Minnesotans, I hope, will be smart enough to reform Zellers and Koch right out of office, along with the other mindless GOP yes-men. I hope they’re also smart enough to kick out the people who, in interviews, claimed to have solutions, and then sat idly by while the pitbulls mauled our state to death.

    MinnPost…please find out what these “reforms” that will “change Minnesota for a generation” are. Minnesotans have a right to know what’s being rushed through the legislature without so much as a glance by the other party, let alone the public.

  3. Submitted by Dan Dorman on 07/19/2011 - 01:40 pm.

    I hate the idea that members must vote for the “global agreement”. It bothers me as much today as it did when I had the opportunity to serve in the MN House. If this is acceptable to us as citizens; we should stop elected 201 members of the House and Senate and elect 4 Senators and 8 House members.

  4. Submitted by Virginia Simson on 07/19/2011 - 01:41 pm.

    First off – the courts did NOT say the doors had to be shut. This is simply untrue. I wonder WHO really did order them locked.

    Two, there has been no transparency, open meetings laws were broken and there was no way to address grievances. Mark Dayton sent out email saying no one was reading them, the calls were not taken and w/the doors locked who could present petitions for redress of grievances.

    Freedom of speech and freedom of assembly were denied MN as the City of Saint Paul refused to respond to a written request for a camping permit to protestors, who just happen to be CITIZENS. Second class, but citizens nontheless.

    No one was allowed in to protest legislators taking pay during a “furlough’ and a forced retirement program for State workers. The disabled and the poor’s voice just lost for nearly three weeks. Does the media care? No of course not.

    Wed ask for a 72-hour cool off period to give people a CHANCE to read and analyse the bills. But hey! who are we? Just taxpayers, voters, soldiers, workers .. we don’t have press passes and passkeys.

    We want the entire American Legislative Exchange Council/Grover Norquist crowd recalled and thrown out. We ask YOUR help ..

    The major stories of those of us who resist remain uncovered . and we are still here. VOICELESS – and poor. Still paying 22.1% taxes which will now be – you guessed it! – going up. We have spent days crying already ..

    Just another day of trauma for those not able to be corporatized.

  5. Submitted by Andrew Kearney on 07/19/2011 - 02:13 pm.

    I know the Press working on our behalf are very attuned to things being done out of the public eye. I do think that there is a minute time and place for closed door discussions. The caveat is that new policy that was not vetted in public during the regular session’s committees or floors is out of bounds. But to agree behind closed doors at end of session or OT to a list of policies and budget line items that had been previously vetted is OK with me. Some the sausage making doesn’t need to be seen. But keep at them for transparency otherwise.

  6. Submitted by Steve Titterud on 07/19/2011 - 02:38 pm.

    Reminds me of a couple past legislative rush-jobs:

    1. The Tonkin Gulf Resolution, which was used as a pretext for the legal authority of Johnson and Nixon to prosecute the Vietnam War. Turns out, of course, that the information about our ships under attack which led to this resolution was false. But it sure affected a lot of us, and for a very long time, continuing through this very day.

    2. We all remember how Hank Paulson told those Senate and House insiders in Washington, the leadership, that if they didn’t pass his bailout plan at once, dire consequences would ensue. The benefits went immediately and mainly to the bad actors who caused the crisis.

    Seems like when our legislatures are in a big hurry, it’s not because they are about to do something great.

  7. Submitted by craig furguson on 07/19/2011 - 03:43 pm.

    They said a prayer for Representative Scheid then recessed for the GOP to caucus in the house. Still out at 3:43 pm.

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