The Potluck

Can Minnesota House Dems get some stray Republicans for an infrastructure bill?

By: - July 10, 2020 2:20 pm

Rep. Eric Lucero, showing off one of his great jackets.

Minnesota Legislature inside baseball (but important!): The every-other-year big infrastructure bill is known around the Capitol as a “bonding bill” because it’s borrowed money. (Read our guest commentary from the laborers calling for both bonding and criminal justice reform.)

And because it’s borrowed money, they need a supermajority of votes to pass it in each chamber, which means it must be bipartisan.

A deal is not in the interests of Republican House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, who is hoping to win back the speaker’s gavel. His caucus’s position is that there’s no bonding deal unless Gov. Tim Walz gives up his emergency powers. This works for Daudt in two ways: First, some in his base are convinced the pandemic has been exaggerated to hurt President Trump, and many more that Walz is a monarch in need of toppling. And, if they don’t do the infrastructure bill, Republicans can say the government is dysfunctional and in need of a new House majority.

But a DFL source told me, “There are other ways” to get to the big infrastructure bill. The implication is clear: If they can go around Daudt and get a handful of Republicans to vote aye, they can still get a bill. (Senate Republicans are on board — they’re protecting their majority, so they want to bring projects home to the voters. And of course it’s never hard to convince Dems to spend money.)

A House GOP caucus spokesman texted me: “LOL. Anyone who thinks there is a magical group of six House Republicans ready to bolt on bonding…has not been paying attention.”

To give a flavor of the mood in the GOP caucus, here’s Rep. Eric Lucero, whose sartorial choices are famous around the Capitol for their resemblance to various flavors of My Little Pony:

It was recently reported Gov. Walz is considering a unilateral edict with a stroke of his pen to MANDATE masks upon everybody in Minnesota. Do you support Gov. Walz continuing to usurp the Legislative Branch, violate the Constitution & create his own laws as an unchecked king?

In a hilarious self-own, more than 90% of the respondents to the Twitter poll answered, “Yes.”

Also, GOP Rep. Dale Lueck wrote to his constituents:

Is likely the governor will call another special session around the 13th of July since, unless we are back in session, his authority to continue martial law again runs into legal difficulty.

Martial law? Did not realize we were in a state of martial law.

Anyway, they can’t all be in Mel Gibson-as-William Wallace mode, but if this is the mood of the caucus, yeah, gonna be hard to get six of them to come over for a bonding bill.

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J. Patrick Coolican
J. Patrick Coolican

J. Patrick Coolican is Editor-in-Chief of Minnesota Reformer. Previously, he was a Capitol reporter for the Minneapolis Star Tribune for five years, after a Knight-Wallace Fellowship at the University of Michigan and time at the Las Vegas Sun, Seattle Times and a few other stops along the way. He lives in St. Paul with his wife and two young children