The Potluck

Special legislative session could drag on through end of June as budget still unfinished

By: - June 11, 2021 1:36 pm

The quadriga horses at the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul, Minnesota. Photo by Tony Webster.

Lawmakers are preparing to return to the Capitol on Monday to begin a special legislative session to avoid a possible government shutdown on July 1. 

Legislative leaders say they are still working to bridge ideological differences as they continue setting budgets for areas of government like public safety, education, health and human services.

DFL Gov. Tim Walz on Thursday said he planned to renew his 30-day peacetime emergency declaration on Monday, triggering a special session because the Legislature isn’t currently in session and would have to vote on whether to end it. 

House Democrats are expected to side with Walz, while Republicans who control the Senate have voted to unwind Walz’s emergency powers numerous times since last year and continue to call on Walz to end his use of them.

During a brief event in Minneapolis on Friday to promote the state’s incentives to boost its rate of COVID-19 vaccination, Walz issued assurances that the state government would not shut down. 

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake, told MPR News’s Brian Bakst that Walz’s emergency powers continue to be a sticking point for Republicans, and he said a “phaseout” could be part of the final deal. Republicans are also demanding Walz not implement new car emission standards they say are too onerous. 

Gazelka also said he hoped to finish budget bills by Sunday, the day before the special session begins. 

A spokeswoman for the Senate Republican caucus did not immediately respond to a request for updates on the budget negotiations. 

A House DFL spokesman said that leaders of the so-called working groups who are negotiating  budget bills have been in communication with legislative leaders and the governor’s office to reach compromises. 

Last month, Walz and legislative leaders agreed on the skeletal framework of a  $52 billion budget, aided with one-time federal COVID relief funds. But in the weeks since, lawmakers have struggled to agree on details.

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Ricardo Lopez
Ricardo Lopez

Ricardo Lopez is the senior political reporter for the Reformer. Ricardo is not new to Minnesota politics, previously reporting on the Dayton administration and statehouse for The Star Tribune from 2014 to 2017, and the Republican National Convention in 2016. Previously, he was a staff writer at The Los Angeles Times covering the California economy. He's a Las Vegas native who has adopted Minnesota as his home state. In his spare time, he likes to run, cook and volunteer with Save-a-Bull, a Minneapolis dog rescue group.

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