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1 Week In, Legislators Taking A Week Off At The Capitol?

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(credit: CBS) Pat Kessler
Pat Kessler knows Minnesota politics. He's been on the beat long...
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ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Minnesota lawmakers are picking up right where they left off from last year. The 2012 session so far has been filled with bad feelings and harsh rhetoric.

And already, state lawmakers are taking a break. The House goes home Wednesday night, and the Senate follows on Thursday.

They’re not coming back for a week, and Governor Mark Dayton is wondering why.

Seven days into the 2012 session, and the legislature is ready for time off: Up to seven days off to attend precinct caucuses, which are next Tuesday night.

Gov. Dayton, already upset by the Senate firing of a trusted appointee, said there’s no reason for them to take a vacation.

“They’ve only been in session for less than a week, now they are going to take a week off to go to the precinct caucuses. All you’ve got to do is get in your car and drive to the precinct caucuses,” Dayton said. “I don’t understand why they need a week. When they get back, maybe they’d like to get to work on the things the people of Minnesota really care about and are concerned about, which are jobs.”

Even though they’ll be on break, Minnesota Senators are entitled to $86 a day in expense payments, even if they are not at the Capitol.

The House decided to ban all per diem after their lawmakers go home Wednesday night.

“Why do you need a break? It’s traditional you stop to take a break for caucuses, we actually break every year for caucuses. That’s part of what we do every year,” said Republican Majority Leader Matt Dean.

Minnesota House leaders told WCCO-TV their seven day break is actually saving the taxpayers money because lawmakers don’t need to come to session on Monday and then drive home Tuesday for precinct caucuses.

By the way, it is against the law for the legislature to meet on caucus day.

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