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Tracking Minnesota’s political scene and keeping you up-to-date on those elected to serve you

House GOP leaders press for special session at Hwy. 12 in Maple Plain

House GOP leaders hit the road on Wednesday, calling on Gov. Mark Dayton to call a special session from a stretch of Highway 12 in Maple Plain they said would benefit from the approval of a public-works bill. 

The Legislature adjourned Sunday at midnight without passing a borrowing bill that would have funded dozens of capital investment projects around the state, including work on Highway 12. The rural highway is considered among the most deadliest in Minnesota. Nearly two dozen people have died on this stretch of road in the last five years, according to a House news release.

House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, urged Dayton to call legislators back to St. Paul for a special session and blamed Senate DFLers for the failed legislation. 

“Without swift action, Minnesotans will be left waiting to see funding for important public infrastructure improvements," Daudt said. "I strongly urge Governor Dayton to act in the best interest of the state and promptly call a one-day special session so we can move forward on projects like Highway 12. Failure to do so, or attempts to inject unnecessary political games into the process like the one that got us into this mess, would be a disservice to the Minnesotans we represent.”

Legislative leaders in recent days have said they would like to return to St. Paul to approve a bonding bill.

House Minority Leader Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, in a statement agreed the highway needs funding but blamed GOP leaders for the lack of passage, calling it "frustrating that Republican legislators did not even propose a bonding bill until just one week ago. Procrastination and brinksmanship don't build a single mile of road. Minnesotans are tired of it, and they should be."

Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles sends stern letter to Perpich Center for Arts Education

This post has been updated

Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles sent a letter to the executive director of the Perpich Center for Arts Education, urging her to hand over information his office is seeking, saying a failure to do so currently makes her "noncompliant with state law." 

The auditor is conducting a review of the Perpich Center, whose leader Sue Mackert has faced some criticism for leadership of Woodbury's Crosswinds Arts and Sciences School, which was taken over by the state arts agency in 2013. 

The controversy with the school was first reported by Minnesota Public Radio. 

The Office of Legislative Auditor is given wide berth by state law to conduct investigations of state agencies and institutions that receive state money.  

The auditor "has never received this kind of non-responsiveness by a state agency," Nobles writes in the letter to Mackert. Nobles threatens to use his subpoena power, which he said the auditor has never been forced to resort to. 

Nobles then provides a deadline of May 25 to hand over documents. 

The law cited by Nobles provides that a judge could find Mackert in contempt of court if she does not comply with the information request. 

A spokeswoman for the Perpich Center declined to comment except to say they are complying with the information request. 

Pierce McNally, chair of the Perpich Center board, said the auditor is actually conducting two simultaneous audits, a financial audit and a governance audit.

"We’re a state agency that operates in a lean fashion," McNally said. He called dealing with two separate audits in the middle of a school year "burdensome" and a "difficult exercise under constraining circumstances. 

In a letter dated April 4 to Nobles, McNally asked that one of the audits be deferred 60 days until the academic year was finished. McNally said Nobles did not reply in writing. 

Regardless, the agency is now complying with the information request in quick fashion, he said.