By Pat Kessler

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — A former Republican lawmaker has filed suit in Ramsey County District Court to stop an $89.5 million State Senate office building project.

The Minnesota Legislature approved the new office building for Senators and staff in the last days of the 2013 session.

The new Senate office building is intended to relieve pressure on the cramped and outdated 108-year-old State Capitol.

But former Republican Rep. Jim Knoblach questions whether a $90 million addition is needed to fix it.

“We do not need to spend $90 million on a building for a few dozen Senators and staff that are only going to be here a few months a year,” said Knoblach, who once served as Representative from the St. Cloud area.

“I think the building is a waste of money. I think they passed it in an unconstitutional way, and I am going to attempt to use the Constitution to strike down the building,” he said.

The lawsuit claims the legislature violated the constitution by illegally including two separate subjects in the same bill — the major construction project in a bill about tax revenues.

The four-story complex behind the State Capitol would house 37 Senators from both parties and their staffs — together for the first time in decades — and several large hearing rooms.

In a written statement, DFL Majority Leader Tom Bakk said concerns in the lawsuit were not “legitimate.”

“I fear the only result of this suit will be the waste of taxpayer resources on legal expenses and the potential costs associated with delaying the construction project,” he said.

“Nevertheless, I remain encouraged by the bi-partisan effort taking place to design and deliver a modern legislative building that will enhance Minnesota’s tradition of public participation in government.”


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