Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Take a hike

Remember how this Minnesota Legislative session was supposed to be an "unsession?"

It's been quite a flurry of activity in St. Paul over the past few days, whether it's hiking the minimum wage or approving plans for an extravagant new office building for Minnesota state senators. 

Just a few weeks ago, Gov. Mark Dayton implied that the Senate was upholding critical tax legislation out of spite for the House not approving plans for the upper chamber's new digs. Fast forward to this past weekend. In less than 72 hours after House Democrats approved the new Senate building, it was made known that there would be a Monday morning presser announcing an agreement on a minimum wage increase. 

The fact those two events so closely coincided was not lost in the Star Tribune story detailing the agreement. 

The minimum wage deal came just after resolution of another contentious issue at the Capitol: a new senate office building. Bakk had insisted the new building was needed.

Naturally, there were vehement denials that one had anything to do with another. But I find it rather curious that Bakk himself said last month that while he personally backed the House minimum wage plan, there weren't enough DFLers in his caucus who would acquiesce to such legislation.

But then......

Last month, a group of nine DFL senators pleaded with Bakk in a letter to end the delay.

"Recently, some in our caucus have been re-thinking the indexing issue. As a result, they have decided to lend their support. We are reaching out to you now to enlist your support, as well," said a letter sent to Bakk in mid-March. "Please help us pass this bill. It’s the right thing to do."
Again, at that point in the legislative session, the House was still balking at moving forward with the Senate Legislative Office Building (SLOB). So what caused the aforementioned nine DFL senators to suddenly endorse the House minimum wage plan? Was it the rallies held by unions and other Democrat allies, urging the two chambers to come together posthaste? Or maybe, just maybe, the House was willing to OK the SLOB in exchange for the Senate's support of their minimum wage proposal.

Am I being conspiratorial? Perhaps. But you have to admit that the timing just seems way too convenient.

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