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Lawsuits Loom Over Next Week's Start of Legislative Session

February 13, 2018 06:49 PM

Minnesota's legislative leaders are heading back to the Capitol soon and promise they've put months of contentious legal battles behind them.

But it's clear that lingering disputes could still snag a session already constrained by election-year politics when lawmakers return to St. Paul next week. Gov. Mark Dayton and the Legislature's top Republicans and Democrats discussed the upcoming session on Tuesday.

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Republicans and Democrats pledged to work together to re-pass legislative funding that was vetoed by the governor last year, although they could hit a bump if Democrats try to attach approval of new state workers contracts to that bill.

RELATED: In Statement, Fischbach Doubles Down on Ability to Serve Dual Roles

They also plan to work on a bill to make Minnesota tax law conform to the new federal tax bill and a plan to spend around a billion dollars on building projects around the state. 

Dayton and Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt admitted it won't always be easy because they have very different philosophies.

"We're going to clash," Dayton acknowledged. "We have very different ideologies. We represent every different constituents. Minnesotans are very divided among themselves. And I think it's unrealistic to think we're just going to come in have it all be sweetness, harmony and light."

Daudt said something similar, but he did take a good-natured "selfie" with the governor before their meeting with the Capitol Press Corps.

"We do disagree on issues and we hold our positions firmly and we advocate for those positions," Daudt said. "So we are going to disagree, but I think have both tried to do a very good job of separating those two and treating each other respectfully even when we do disagree."

Daudt also said he isn't "actively pursuing" the idea of running for governor, but hasn't ruled it out.

Another lawsuit against GOP Sen. Michelle Fischbach's dual role as lieutenant governor could also loom over the session. Fischbach is trying to maintain her Senate seat and the GOP's one-seat majority but Democrats argue she must leave the Senate.

A Ramsey County judge dismissed an earlier lawsuit Monday. But Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka expects another legal challenge and DFL Senate Leader Tom Bakk didn't rule out that possibility.

He warns Fischbach's removal could hinder legislative activity.



Tom Hauser contributed to this report.


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The Associated Press

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