ST. PAUL, Minn. — The clock struck midnight and Minnesota legislators found themselves in a similar predicament as they face a special session.
The floor of the House was empty for hours as the last five omnibus bills totaling more than $40 billion dollars were still being negotiated by legislative leaders.
By 7:30 p.m., legislators had passed only five of the ten budget bills totaling approximately $6.1 billion of the $46 billion state budget.
Legislators spent most of Monday afternoon looking to pass eh Public Safety Finance Omnibus bill. The bill was stripped of popular legislation that would increase criminal penalties against those who block airports, roads, and transit whilst protesting.
Author of the language, Rep. Nick Zerwas (R-Elk River), who gained national attention for his proposed legislation, announced the news on Twitter stating his bill would most likely be passed in the next legislative session, which begins on February 20, 2018.
Rep. Joe Hoppe (R-Chaska) also found out that his Liquor Omnibus bill was dead in the water as it did not have enough support in the Senate. The bill included language that would have extended last call for for bars until 4:00 a.m. for the Super Bowl.
The Liquor Omnibus bill is also expected to pass sometime during the next session.
The House spent approximately an hour debating whether to use the word “illegal” when describing individuals who do not have lawful status in the United States.
“My faith tells me to welcome the stranger,” Rep. Peggy Flanagan (D-St. Louis Park) told the chamber while debating a piece of language in the bill that would keep current rules in place to only give drivers licenses to those with lawful status.
The House passed the bill 98-36 and sent it over to the Senate.
Earlier Monday morning, the House passed the Jobs Omnibus bill 87-43.
Over the weekend, the House and Senate voted on the Environment Omnibus bill, Higher Education Omnibus bill, Legacy Omnibus bill, and the Elections Omnibus bill.
Around 8:30 p.m., Gov. Mark Dayton’s office released this statement, “The Governor and Legislative Leaders have not yet reached agreement on a Bonding Bill, a Health and Human Services (HHS) Bill, a Transportation Bill, a State Government Bill, a Tax Bill, or an E-12 Education Bill.”
The House resumed session around 10:00 p.m., but after passing three pieces of legislation, left for recess at the call of the chair.
Legislative Leaders held a press conference at after 11:00 p.m. to announce that a special session would begin at 12:01 a.m.
“We have a deal. We reached across the table and shook hands. This is how politics should work,” Gazelka told reporters at a late night press conference. Daudt told reporters that they aim to be done by 7:00 a.m. Wednesday and will work through the night Tuesday to get things done.
Leadership and the Governor have agreed on $660 million in tax cuts, $300 million for transportation, $477 million for E-12 education, and an almost billion dollar bonding bill.
Legislators gaveled in the Special Session at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday morning and then called for a recess for later in the morning.