Senate Republicans on Thursday said they had no immediate plans to move into a new office building, calling the almost-completed building an example of “the Senate DFL’s wasteful expenditure.”
Senate Minority Leader David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, said that his caucus members would not move from their current space in the State Office Building to a new, $90 million building just north of the Capitol, once it opens.
Republicans have long decried the building, criticizing its approval from the start and later using it to attack DFLers during the 2014 election season. The snubbing of the new office spaces by GOP senators was first reported by the Associated Press.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said in a statement that Republicans’ efforts to remain in their current office space will create logistical problems — and incur additional costs — because other state employees are expected to move into the State Office Building. He also said that if Republicans stay put, they will effectively be assigned two offices.
Hann, in a follow-up statement, expressed surprise at learning that other state employees are planning to move into their current offices.
“This is news to us and contrary to what we heard from the Department of Administration. As soon as Sen. Bakk lets us know who the new tenant is and when they are moving in, we will move to the new building.”
He added: “The idea of Republican senators wanting two offices is a laughable attempt to deflect criticism away from the Senate DFL’s wasteful expenditure on this building.”
A spokeswoman for Bakk said that the legislative revisor’s office is in the “preliminary phases of planning to move into the State Office Building space.” She said DFL senators are not expected to move into the new building until early next year.
Since early summer, Senate DFLers have been housed in temporary offices in downtown St. Paul while the Capitol undergoes renovation, a project that won’t be completed until 2017.
The Capitol in March will be used only by the House of Representatives when the Legislature reconvenes, but space will be tight and restricted. The building will lack plumbing, so legislators will use outdoor portable restrooms.
Senate floor sessions, however, will take place in the new legislative office building.