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Contributors in Minnesota: Patrick Condon, Baird Helgeson, Patricia Lopez, Jim Ragsdale, Abby Simons, Rachel E. Stassen-Berger and Glen Stubbe. Contributors in D.C.: Allison Sherry, Corey Mitchell and Jim Spencer.

Deal done on Senate office building?

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger under Minnesota campaigns, Minnesota legislature, Minnesota state senators, Democrats, Republicans Updated: April 4, 2014 - 9:50 AM

The Minnesota Senate appears to be one step closer to getting a new office building.

The House Rules committee, which had blocked the controversial building from moving forward, plans to meet on Friday to give the building its approval.

A host of Republicans and some Democrats have raised questions about the $90 million plans to construct a new building to house senators and build some parking places.

Critics questioned the expense and the idea that the new office building would not house all 67 senators.

Gov. Mark Dayton last month accused the DFLers in the Senate of holding a tax cut bill hostage because senators wanted progress on the building. Republican candidates for governor put aside their differences to bash Dayton for approving legislation that allowed the building to move forward last year.

That legislation required both the Senate Rules committee and the House Rules committee to approve the building plans before they could be put into action. The House Rules committee had so far refused to give their approval.

That approval may come on Friday but the construction plans may change.

On Thursday, House Majority Leader Erin Murphy, DFL-St. Paul, said the House still believes it is crucial that if the House is to approve the new building that all senators get offices there.

"We believe and we've always said that the new building should house 67 offices for the 67 senators," Murphy said.

One of the scenarios the Department of Administration has presented recently would house all senators in a new building for a slightly cheaper cost than the original plans considered. See that alternative and others here.

If the House committee does approve an alternative plan, it is likely the Senate Rules committee would have to approve it as well, said Amos Briggs, spokesman for the Senate. The Senate committee voted for the original plan early this year.

The House also asked Dayton's administration about alternatives to the building and whether the Senate could lease space elsewhere during the renovation of the Capitol, which will force DFL Senators out of their current offices.

The administration replied back on Thursday, essentially saying that alternatives could be just as expensive or unworkable.

Here's that letter:

Admin Response by Rachel E. Stassen-Berger

Updated and corrected

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