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Suit coming to stop new Minnesota Senate building

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger under Minnesota legislature, Minnesota state senators Updated: October 30, 2013 - 7:19 PM

A new office building for the Minnesota Senate survived legislative battles this year but may now enter a legal war.

Prominent conservative attorney Erick Kaardal said in an email that he and former state Rep. Jim Knoblach will hold a press conference on Thursday to announce a lawsuit to stop the planned building's construction.

Knoblach, a Republican from St. Cloud who ran for congress in 2006, "will be filing a lawsuit for a court injunction to prevent the design and construction of the new $90,000,000 state senate office building just north of the Capitol building," an email from Kaardal's office said.

The Minnesota Capitol under construction this spring

The Minnesota Capitol under construction this spring

Late in the legislative session this year, lawmakers approved spending $89.5 million to construct the new building through a provision tucked into the Legislature's tax bill. Most large state building projects are approved in bonding bills. Bonding bills require a super majority to pass, tax bills do not.

The suit will focus the fact that the building's approval was in a tax bill, not a bonding bill, Kaardal said on Wednesday.

In alerting the media to his plans to hold a press conference on Thursday, Knoblach noted that while in the Legislature he "served as chairman of the Capital Investment committee and the Ways and Means committee, and was a member of the Tax committee for eight of those years." The Capitol Investment committee is the one charged with crafting bonding bills.

Construction of the new building has yet to begin. Getting that started was delayed for at least a month this summer when a seven-member committee charged with selecting contractors decided they needed new criteria for the project. That process is now complete and design of the building is underway.

Plans call for the building to be complete around 2015 so that senators can move in while the Minnesota Capitol is undergoing a massive renovation. The building is slated to be built on what is now a parking lot.

Currently, the state's 67 senators office in two buildings -- with the majority in the Capitol and the minority in the State Office Building. All of the state's 134 House members office in the State Office Building.

Amos Briggs, DFL Senate spokesman, said the Senate had no comment until it learns more about the suit.

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