- Created: Wednesday, 31 August 2016 11:01
- Written by Jeremy Schroeder
I was still somewhat bleary eyed when I wrote about the frantic, late-night close of the Minnesota legislative session back in May. Little did I know the back-and-forth behind closed doors would keep us holding our breath for another three months. Sadly, after more political smoke about a special session, the two sides weren’t able to strike a deal — snuffing a bonding bill that could have supported affordable housing development across the state.
So what happened? When the impasse over light rail killed the bonding bill in the final moments of the session, both Republicans and Democrats asked the Governor to call a special session to pass the critical measure that, among many other aspects, included $45 million for affordable housing. The Governor heeded the call — but with a long list of must-have that he’d need to see in the bonding bill to bring legislators back to St. Paul. Top of his list? Funding for the Southwest light rail.
As the summer heat sizzled, so did media speculation about the prospect of a special session. But, despite (or perhaps because of the) high political temperatures heading into the election year, the major barrier refused to thaw: Republicans said they wouldn’t agree to a deal with light rail funding in the bill and Democrats said they wouldn’t agree to a deal without it. To add to the intrigue, some speculated a deal rested on helping Speaker Daudt’s primary race.
Then something seemingly amazing happened. The Governor brought together the combination of bacon, lettuce and tomato to persuade Speaker Daudt. As the weeks passed, the Governor compromised on many of his demands and still negotiations were stalled. It wasn’t until he had the Speaker over for sandwiches in late August that a deal reportedly was brokered. Still no agreement on funding for light rail, but it seemed the special session was moving forward.
Then we waited.