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Early morning Capitol scramble leads to some wins but no guarantees

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: May 16, 2014 - 5:01 PM

After legislators requested Gov. Mark Dayton's signature on a guarantee that he would not nix any bonding projects, the governor made some requests of his own in the wee hours Friday.

Dayton told leaders he had a list of half a dozen policy and spending items he wanted completed.

His list included funding for sober schools, from easing veterans' ability to find jobs upon their return from service, a measure moving to make sure oil pipeline product can travel safely and a mandate that businesses notify consumers if their children's products contain certain toxins.

While some complained that Dayton's list came as surprise, others said the last ditch efforts.

"There's always little pieces of drama that pop up at the end of the session." House Speaker Paul Thissen.

Except for the so-called Toxic Free Kids bill, lawmakers largely moved to satisfy Dayton's requests.

The Toxic Free Kids measure, which the DFL House approved and the Republicans as well as the some DFL Senate opposed, will likely die this year.

"I'm very disappointed that the Toxic Free Kids bill didn't get done. It was, in some sense, protecting kids versus protecting corporations," said Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis.

House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, said that measure in particular could have hurt businesses and to employers.

"We were able to stop that from proceeding and we think that that's good," Daudt said.

But, given that blockade, Dayton has refused to guarantee that he will not use his line item veto power to cut out a few of the building projects the House and Senate approved.

"We don't have the assurance that the governor won't line item veto things out of the bonding bill," Daudt said. "But you don't get everything you want."

Dayton spokeman Matt Swenson said the governor was not planning to speak to the press himself on Friday.

Even on Friday morning, negotiations were ongoing.

Dayton and DFL Sen. Jim Metzen had several discussions about restricting payday lenders, who some believe prey on the economically disadvantaged. The House moved to substantially restrict those loans. The Senate had resisted those expansive limits.

Metzen, the Senate Commerce Committee chair who has been in the Legislature since 1974, said legislators will move on that issue.

'We're going to get it done," Metzen said.

There is little time left to get anything else done.

By noon, legislative leaders were saying with some confidence that they would wrap up all business by the day's end.

There was little business left to tie with a bow. Legislators spent early Friday sending their bonding bill to Dayton. They planned to spend Friday afternoon approving a modest measure allowing critically ill Minnesotans access to medical marijuana, a bill to fund a few smaller state programs and one to cut taxes and approve new tax policies.

"I anticipate that we may be able to adjourn today," Thissen said.

Updated

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