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Republicans want bill to halt planned legislative building

Posted by: Patrick Condon under Minnesota legislature, Democrats, Republicans Updated: March 24, 2014 - 1:08 PM

Republicans in the Legislature are pushing a bill to block the planned construction of a new legislative office building next to the Capitol. 

A group of GOP lawmakers blasted the construction plans at a news conference Monday. The building plans have been tied to an ongoing renovation of the Capitol, with defenders arguing it's needed first to house senators when their offices are closed off, and after that as permanent office space.

But Republicans say the $90 million building, which includes two parking ramps, is not needed, overly lavish and was not properly authorized.

Rep. Matt Dean and Sen. Roger Chamberlain introduced a bill to block construction several weeks ago. Dean said they did not request a hearing for the bill; last week was a legislative deadline for bills to be passed out of committee in at least one legislative chamber.

The building has been a sticking point between Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, a strong supporter, and Democrats in the House who are reluctant to give it final approval. Dean said Republicans don't have a backup plan for where to put senators if the office building plans are scrapped, but believe the issue should be settled soon. 

A former Republican lawmaker, Jim Knoblach, sued to stop the building's construction with an argument that the way lawmakers approved it last session was unconstitutional. A district court judge rejected the lawsuit, but Knoblach appealed to the Supreme Court and asked for an expedited ruling. A spokesman said the court is considering the request for a quick ruling.

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