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Legal challenge filed against new Minnesota Senate building

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger under Minnesota legislature, Minnesota state senators Updated: October 31, 2013 - 3:57 PM

updated

A former state representative filed suit on Thursday to ban Minnesota senators from getting their new home.

The suit requests that the courts stop the state from designing the building or spending any money on it because of the way the Legislature approved of it.

"This building was authorized in the omnibus tax bill, which is about taxes, not building new buildings," former state Rep. Jim Knoblach said. Generally, authorization for state buildings appears in bonding bills, not tax bills.

That, his legal filing claims, is in violation of the state constitution's  'single subject rule.' Over the years opponents of various laws have cited the rule, which outlines that "no law shall embrace more than one subject," to challenge legislation. Those challenges have succeeded in striking down some laws -- including the controversial 'conceal-carry' law, which was later passed again -- and failed at ousting others.

Planning for the new senate office building is underway. If it goes forward, it would be built on what is now a parking lot to the north of the state Capitol.

The state plans spend about $90 million for the new building and parking ramps. The building itself is expected to cost $63 million to construct.

The suit names the state of Minnesota, Gov. Mark Dayton, the Department of Administration and Administration Commissioner Spencer Cronk as defendants.

"Now that a lawsuit has been filed, this question will be properly decided by the Judicial Branch.," Dayton spokesman Matt Swenson said.

Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, was more blunt.

"This lawsuit does not contain any legitimate concerns," Bakk said. "I fear the only result of this suit will be the waste of taxpayer resources on legal expenses and the potential costs associated with delaying the construction project."

Meanwhile, Knoblach, who long represented St. Cloud in the Minnesota House and ran for congress in 2006, said on Thursday that he would not run for congress again this year. He had been considering making a bid for the seat U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann will leave after the next election.

Read the complaint here:

Summons & Verified Complaint 10 31 13 by Rachel E. Stassen-Berger

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