With just hours left in the regular session, legislative leaders started talking about reviving a slimmed down borrowing bill to fund state capital projects.
"We’re going to try and sit down with the Republican leaders today,” Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said late Sunday.
But as time ticked away, Republicans and Democrats had yet to come to any compromise.
“We don’t want to do a bonding bill so if you want us to do one, what’s the deal? Is there a deal? Is there something we can talk about that we would want?” said Senate Minority Leader David Hann, R-Eden Prairie. “It depends on what else would be part of that agreement.”
Bakk said lawmakers may try to cobble together a measure to spend about $300 million, which would include about $109 million to restore the ailing state Capitol, some flood mitigation projects and a few other items.
On Sunday, Republicans began conversations about what it would take to get that done.
"If they would take child care unionization off the table, I think that would be something that would interest us or at least get a bonding bill in play," said House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown. "If they want a bonding bill more than we do, it only makes sense that we would get something in return for it."
At midnight Sunday, Daudt said that Democrats had not offered Republicans anything specific in exchange for a borrowing bill nor had they negotiated specifics of what a theoretical borrowing bill would look like.
As the idea of reviving a borrowing bill was awash in the Capitol, a newly fixed up area of the Capitol tunnel sprung a leak with water pouring from the ceiling, filling tub after tub.
The leak itself worked its way on the House floor, as Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Grove City, referenced the potential to fix up the Capitol and made mention of the newly soggy basement. He warned members who might be thinking of walking into the tunnel of the watery mess, "due to the current state of our Capitol."
Adding to crumble-gate late Sunday, the Senate's voting board stopped working. That forced the Senate to take an unplanned break from debate on an anti-bullying bill. Staffers said the problem was fixable.
The all-night showdown over whether to allow child-care providers and home-care workers to vote on unionization turned out to be just the first act.
The Minnesota House took up the bill in the wee hours of the Saturday night-Sunday morning session and debated it for about five hours. The bill was then laid on the table and the House adjourned until noon Sunday.
The sponsor, Rep. Michael Nelson, DFL-Brooklyn Park, said the when the House returns, it will take up whatever budget bills are ready for final action.
The debate on the unionization bill will resume at some point Sunday or Monday, he said. It can be taken up for further discussion at any time. The session must end by midnight Monday.
Nelson was cheered by union activists as he left the chamber early Sunday. He said he was able to defeat all hostile amendments and continues to hope he can pass the bill and send it to Gov. Mark Dayton, who supports it.
"The plan right now is to go home and get some sleep," Nelson said after the all-nighter. "We'll resume it some time tomorrow. We've got budget bills that will be coming forward, that we've gotten back from the Senate. We'll take the priorities up first, take care of the priorities for the state of Minnesota, get our budget passed.
"At that time, when we can, we'll take up this bill again."
Asked if he could pass the bill, Nelson said, "I hope so. I wouldn't do all this work if I didn't think so."
The bill stirred the Senate to a 17-hour debate last week that broke records for length. The Senate passed the bill by only three votes.
Both sides had members outside the House chambers throughout the all-night debate, and said they would return Sunday afternoon.
Earlier on Saturday the House passed the K-12 education and environment-agriculture funding bills, while the Senate passed the environment-agriculture bills. Among budget bills still to be acted on are transportation finance, state government finance and taxes.
In the unionization bill, opposition has focused on the child-care portion because providers run their own small, private businesses, and the application of the union model to such work is a stretch even for some Democrats.
Based on years of field organizing by two unions – the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME, and the Service Employees International Union, or SEIU – the bill would allow union votes among two groups: In home family child care providers, both licensed and unlicensed, who care for children receiving a state subsidy; and Personal Care Assistants, or PCAs, who are employed by the person they care for, generally a relative, and who also work in the home.
Estimates of the total number of workers vary. The unions estimate the total for both groups at 21,000. The state Department of Human Services says the number of child-care providers who would be affected at 12,712 – a number that does not include affect PCAs.
The Minnesota House began its debate on unionization of home health care workers and child care workers at 2 a.m. Sunday morning.
The debate is expected to last for a while. The Minnesota Senate debated the measure for 17 hours. The House has twice as many members as the Senate.
The measure brought hordes of supporters and opponents to the Capitol, who spent all of Saturday pressing their views.
Backers say the measure would simply let workers vote on whether to join a union.
"It does not create or form a union," said bill sponsor Rep. Michael Nelson, DFL-Brooklyn Park.
Opponents say it would force private workers to unionize.
Minnesota House leaders say that the House will start debate on the contentious unionization bill before 7 a.m. Sunday.
The measure, passed by the Minnesota Senate after a record-setting 17 hour debate, brought hordes of supporters and opponents to the Capitol on Saturday, urging lawmakers to vote their way.
House Speaker Paul Thissen said Saturday afternoon that the House will begin debating the bill, which would allow in-home child care workers and personal care assistants to vote on whether to unionize, "in this legislative day."
A legislative day ends at 7 a.m.
"And I anticipate that that probably...that it won't end this legislative day," Thissen said.
Already lawmakers have filed nearly 120 proposed amendments to the measure and included some amendments to the amendments, which signals that the House debate will be lengthy.
If the House passes the measure without changes, it would be delivered to the governor for his signature. Gov. Mark Dayton supports the unionization measure.
Supporters and opponents of a care workers unionization bill descended on the Minnesota House Saturday.
Veterans of this long battle, which extends back nearly a decade for some participants, exchanged shouts of "Yes!" and "No!" in front of the House chambers.
They came for a debate and vote on a bill, already passed by the Senate, that would allow in-home child care workers and personal care assistants to vote on whether to unionize. The bill is expected to come up in the House Saturday afternoon or evening.
Green- and purple-shirted members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) changed and carried signs in support of the bill.
A group of opposing child-care providers and their supporters were equally adamant in their insistence that the House defeat the bill.
"It's another step towards professionalism," said Sharon O'Boyle, a child-care provider in Washington County. "We'll have a legal voice to collectively bargain with the state. That's what we need -- we need that legal voice."
She said the possibility of health-care benefits for child-care providers is another reason to have the union. She has been a member of the nascent AFSCME union, known as Child Care Providers Together, since 2007. "We deserve to have a vote," she said. "This bill will give us a vote."
On the other side was Jennifer Parrish, who operates a family child care business in Rochester and has been fighting child-care unionization for eight years. Her organization, Coalition of Child Care Providers, has led opposition to the bill.
"I'm tired, and quite frankly, I'm broke," she said."Regardless of how this is voted on, this is not the end," she said. "They're going to continue to keep coming back."
"The way the bill is written, the deck is definitely stacked in the union's favor," she said. "Excluding thousands of licensed providers from the vote, and having all these unlicensed caregivers who aren't even providing care eligible to vote, just is not fair."
The bill limits the unit that would vote on unionization to those providers, both licensed and unlicensed, who care for children under the state subsidy program. That excludes a large number of providers from deciding whether to unionize. Parrish would be eligible to vote under the current bill.
"If every single licensed provider here was able to vote, we would definitely win an election in a landslide, and they know that," Parrish said. "This bill is just a way to try to get this rammed through without the providers having much say in it."A small but determined group of providers and union activists demonstrated on the steps of the Minnesota House throughout the day. Many said after an eight-year battle, they planned to see the vote through to sunrise Sunday.