Amid talk of special session, inclusion of Mille Lacs aid still unknown
While Gov. Mark Dayton and legislative leaders are considering another special session of the Minnesota Legislature, it remained murky on Wednesday whether the potential session will include an aid package for Mille Lacs Lake resorters impacted b...
While Gov. Mark Dayton and legislative leaders are considering another special session of the Minnesota Legislature, it remained murky on Wednesday whether the potential session will include an aid package for Mille Lacs Lake resorters impacted by the walleye season shutdown this summer.
Dayton previously proposed a special session to pass state financial assistance for the resorts and other businesses following the Department of Natural Resources' early closure of the summer walleye fishing season in August, but talks between his administration and the Legislature broke down.
Last week, Dayton issued a new call for a special session, this time to extend unemployment benefits for laid-off steelworkers. On Wednesday, he added that the session should address economic disparities facing black Minnesotans.
In a Minnesota Public Radio report Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said the session could include resort owners and businesses around Mille Lacs. However, Bakk spokesperson Alyssa Siems Roberson later clarified to the Dispatch that Bakk was not explicitly advocating for Mille Lacs to be included in the special session, he simply expected it would likely come up.
When asked if Bakk was in favor of including Mille Lacs in a special session, Roberson said the Senate DFL had not taken a position on the matter. The caucus chose not to participate in a potential special session when it was first discussed earlier this year, she said.
"I can't speculate as to whether or not our caucus would be supportive of that," Roberson said of the idea of a special session for Mille Lacs now. "I think certainly it'll be a part of the conversation, and if the governor wants it, that obviously weighs heavy in our caucus, but I can't say for sure that our caucus would support it."
Susan Closmore, spokesperson for the GOP caucus in the House of Representatives, said House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown had not yet weighed in publicly on the special session and was still discussing it with colleagues.
When Daudt visited Brainerd Nov. 10, he said it didn't look like a special session on any particular issue would be needed. Daudt noted several issues that might have been discussed-the Mille Lacs walleye shutdown as well as compliance with the federal REAL ID act that required changes to state drivers' licenses. However, Daudt said "we got through" the Mille Lacs issue without a special session and the federal government would likely give Minnesota an extension on REAL ID.
Dayton's letter calling for a special session to aid steelworkers was dated the following day, Nov. 11.
ZACH KAYSER may be reached at 218-855-5860 or Zach.Kayser@brainerddispatch.com . Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ZWKayser .