GOP Presses For Resolution On Building Controversy

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Legislative Republicans pressed Monday for a speedy resolution to a controversy over a proposed Senate office building, making clear they oppose its construction.

Several GOP lawmakers said the state should make do with the space it has, and reconfigure Capitol renovation plans if necessary. The ongoing restoration project will displace senators for at least a year starting next year. Designs call for less Senate space in the redone Capitol in order to open up more of the building to the public and give other tenants, including the governor.

That’s led to a push for a new office building near the Capitol with permanent Senate offices, which would cost $90 million when two nearby parking ramps are completed. Republicans called the structure wasteful, unnecessary and improperly authorized. It needs one more clearance from a Democratic-led House rules panel to go forward. Gov. Mark Dayton has ordered planners to come up with a cheaper design.

The proposed building has become a political wedge for Republicans, who argue that it represents government overreach on the part of majority party Democrats.

“People don’t want it. It’s just an extravagant waste of money for politicians,” said Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes.

Rep. Matt Dean, R-Dellwood, said he wasn’t offering a Plan B and doesn’t know what it would cost to change course now. He introduced a bill to stop the building in early March, but didn’t move it ahead before a key legislative deadline last week.

Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said the latest criticism was disappointing because it didn’t include a backup idea to find space for displaced senators during construction and after.

“If they have another plan they should have unveiled that today,” Bakk said.

(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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