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Minnesota Senate GOP prepares 'lights on' bill amid impasse

AP image - Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz

The Republican-controlled Minnesota Senate is prepared to pass a measure to prevent a state government shutdown if legislative leaders and Democratic Gov. Tim Walz can't agree on a budget deal.

Posted: May 17, 2019 9:54 AM
Updated: May 17, 2019 2:50 PM

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — With the likelihood of a special session growing, the Republican-controlled Minnesota Senate prepared Friday to pass a measure to prevent a state government shutdown if legislative leaders and Democratic Gov. Tim Walz can't agree on a budget deal before the current budget expires June 30.

Senate Republicans made the chess move Thursday evening as talks bogged down among the governor and leaders of the Senate GOP and House Democratic majorities. Senate Finance Committee Chair Julie Rosen said then that the talks were at "somewhat of an impasse."

Under the state Constitution, the legislative session must adjourn Monday night. The governor has met daily with Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka and House Speaker Melissa Hortman all week, often late into the night, without reaching an overall agreement on taxes, spending and policy initiatives. None of the leaders have said much publicly on what the remaining differences holding up the two-year budget might be.

The lack of news led Democratic Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk to publicly ask Gazelka on the chamber floor for an update Friday.

"I will tell you that the negotiations have been honorable, professional," Gazelka replied. But he declined to give details, saying he had not shared them even with most of his fellow Republicans. "We all want to figure out a way through."

Time is running out for lawmakers to finish drafting and passing the major budget bills by Monday's deadline, even if they work all weekend. That led Senate Republicans to propose a bill to keep state government funded at current levels in case the stalemate persists into June. Senate Democrats criticized that as premature.

The tactic would have several advantages for Republicans. It would keep spending levels at about what the Senate GOP proposed anyway, while shelving Democratic proposals for raising the state's gas tax and preserving a tax on health care providers that expires at year's end. It would also block the rest of the Democrats' ambitious agendas on education, health care and other policy initiatives.

And if Democrats reject the budget extension, Republicans could blame them for any resulting state government shutdown including disruptions in services, closures of state parks and highway rest stops, and furloughs of state workers.

If the Legislature fails to finish its work by Monday night, Walz would need to call them back into special session. He could do so as early as 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, immediately after the deadline. He could call it for next week in hopes of finishing before the Memorial Day holiday weekend. Or he could wait until sometime later in June as the pressure builds.

Special sessions have become almost the norm for completing budgets in Minnesota's recent decades, especially when control of state government is divided.

Three of the four budgets under previous Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton required special sessions. The only one that didn't was in 2013, the last time Democrats controlled both the House and Senate. The bitter budget fight of 2011 led to a 20-day partial government shutdown. Dayton's predecessor, Republican Tim Pawlenty, had to call special sessions to complete the 2003 and 2005 budgets, when Democrats controlled the Senate.

Walz isn't likely to call a special session without agreement on all the details. While it's up to governors to summon lawmakers back to the Capitol, it's up to the House and Senate to decide when to adjourn.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 25208

Reported Deaths: 1060
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin8514616
Ramsey3075128
Stearns203013
Nobles15445
Anoka142970
Dakota134957
Washington64532
Olmsted63410
Kandiyohi4971
Rice4622
Scott4362
Clay42728
Mower3452
Wright3202
Todd3190
Sherburne2462
Carver2182
Benton1783
Steele1600
Blue Earth1420
Martin1325
Freeborn1250
St. Louis11814
Pine890
Unassigned8810
Nicollet8810
Winona8015
Cottonwood760
Watonwan750
Carlton750
Crow Wing712
Otter Tail700
Goodhue683
Chisago621
Polk612
Lyon570
Itasca5510
Dodge530
Chippewa511
Morrison470
Meeker450
Douglas440
Le Sueur441
Becker400
Murray390
Jackson390
McLeod370
Isanti350
Waseca260
Rock220
Swift190
Mille Lacs191
Pennington190
Faribault190
Wabasha180
Fillmore171
Sibley160
Brown162
Beltrami150
Cass142
Norman130
Marshall120
Pipestone120
Kanabec111
Wilkin113
Wadena100
Koochiching90
Pope90
Aitkin80
Mahnomen61
Yellow Medicine60
Big Stone60
Lincoln50
Redwood50
Renville50
Red Lake40
Grant40
Lac qui Parle30
Clearwater30
Traverse30
Houston20
Hubbard20
Roseau20
Lake10
Kittson10
Stevens10

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 19669

Reported Deaths: 555
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk4236133
Woodbury276136
Black Hawk174745
Linn95379
Dallas91623
Marshall89616
Buena Vista8100
Johnson6149
Wapello59712
Muscatine55741
Crawford5282
Tama40327
Scott36110
Dubuque34619
Louisa34511
Sioux2830
Pottawattamie2698
Jasper26017
Washington1898
Wright1780
Warren1350
Plymouth1332
Allamakee1204
Story1161
Mahaska9510
Poweshiek908
Henry711
Bremer696
Des Moines651
Boone650
Clinton641
Taylor560
Clarke560
Guthrie513
Cedar481
Benton431
Hamilton430
Webster421
Monroe385
Shelby370
Jones360
Clayton343
Osceola340
Buchanan330
Iowa330
Marion320
Cherokee310
Jefferson300
Cerro Gordo291
Madison292
Lee270
Fayette270
Monona250
Winneshiek240
Lyon240
Davis230
Harrison230
Dickinson210
Sac200
Grundy200
Mills190
Floyd191
Humboldt181
Clay170
Delaware171
Hardin170
Butler171
Lucas170
Emmet160
Hancock160
Appanoose143
Ida140
Page140
Franklin140
Keokuk140
Pocahontas130
Greene130
Howard120
Cass120
Audubon121
Jackson120
Carroll110
Winnebago110
Chickasaw100
Kossuth100
Adair90
Van Buren90
Union90
Montgomery80
Adams70
Palo Alto70
Fremont40
Ringgold40
Mitchell40
Worth30
Calhoun20
Wayne10
Decatur10
Unassigned10
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