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From: Joe Atkins [mailto:rep.joe.atkins@house.

mn] Sent: Tuesday, May 24, 2011 11:48 AM Subject: Six Secrets of a Special Session Without a budget deal, the regular legislative session concluded last night at midnight, as required by the Minnesota Constitution. Since there was no budget agreement, a special session will be required. I expect an agreement will be reached and a special session called before July 1st, which is when a partial state government shutdown will otherwise occur. Below are six "secrets" about special session. 1) WHO'S AT FAULT? Gov. Dayton says the special session isn't his fault. House leadership says it isn't their fault. Senate leadership says it isn't their fault, either. I realize that pretty much just leaves me. And I do accept responsibility. I am genuinely sorry a special session will be necessary, and I apologize. I will absolutely do all I can to try to resolve the impasse as soon as possible. I will continue to offer budget-solving ideas, not just to one side, but to both sides, and will do what I can to try to bring the two sides together. 2) SPECIAL SESSION ISN'T "SPECIAL." The legislature has gone into overtime 14 times over the last 20 years. Why so often? The main reason is that the arbitrary mid-May date set for adjournment by the Minnesota Constitution bears no relationship to when there will be consequences. The first real consequences for the lack of a budget occur on July 1st, when a partial state shutdown would begin. Until that time, if either side is unwilling to compromise and opts to play a high-stakes version of "Chicken," it stalls the negotiations. We are seeing some of that right now. 3) TERRIBLE TIMING OF MARRIAGE AMENDMENT DEBATE. If there was any hope of a budget deal during the regular legislative session, it went out the window when the gay marriage debate took center stage over the last several days. Things started unraveling last Thursday morning when a House guest pastor, who in the past had made inflammatory comments about gay people, sparked debate with a controversial prayer at the start of the day's session. About an hour later, Republican Speaker Kurt Zellers denounced the controversial pastor, but by then support for the marriage amendment among Speaker Zellers' own GOP members had begun to erode. House Republican leadership reportedly had to spend significant time the last few days putting the votes back together to pass the bill, which places the proposed constitutional ban on gay marriage on the 2012 ballot. 4) LOBBYISTS HATE SPECIAL SESSION. If you don't like lobbyists, you should cheer a special session. Most of them do not get paid extra for special session. 5) WELL, NOT QUITE ALL LOBBYISTS HATE IT. The Minnesota Vikings and gambling expansion interests are hopeful about their prospects in a special session. Proponents of expanded gambling believe their proposals can be part of the final budget solution. The Vikings, who feel their efforts have been stymied by the lack of a budget deal, believe a special session might present an opportunity for them to get a stadium deal done. While Gov. Dayton has been willing to simultaneously discuss the budget and stadium issues, the actions of legislative leaders have made it clear no stadium proposal will move forward until the budget is done. 6) THE MINORITY DEMOCRATS MAY HOLD THE POWER AT THE END. It is hard to see how the Republican majority will be able to muster enough votes for a compromise with the Governor. Their most conservative members have made it clear they will refuse any compromise, even reportedly saying they would welcome a State shutdown. Unless the governor completely capitulates on his position on additional revenue, the Republican majority will need additional votes to reach an agreement. Thus, as one long-time Capitol observer recently said,

"The minority Democratic members in the House and Senate will become very important players, as they will need to contribute some votes to pass the final budget bills.... They may be the kingpins on a settlement. They will not only be needed to provide some votes, but will also be a partner in dictating the terms of a final agreement. They may not only hold the Republicans' feet to the fire, but the Governor's as well." Time will tell. Again, please accept my apology on the need for a special session. As always, if you have thoughts or comments, I would welcome them. Have a good week. Joe