ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Republican leaders turned up the heat Wednesday on Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton to call a special session so lawmakers can finish their work.
The lawmakers made their case alongside families of Highway 12 crash victims to push for road and bridge repairs.
A press conference was held Wednesday along Highway 12, one of the most deadly roadways in Minnesota.
Grief-stricken relatives pleaded with lawmakers to fix it.
“I just really would like to ask that we push forward with a special session to do what’s right,” said Liz Squire, whose sister, Chelsea Langhans, was killed on the road last August, “because lives are at stake, and it’s the least that our officials can do for the people of this state.”
Seven people have died on Highway 12 since last August. There have been 23 fatalities on the highway in the last five years.
But lawmakers adjourned their messy session over the weekend without passing a bill for safety upgrades, and Republicans want to try again.
“We feel it’s time to put the money forward to fix the problems,” said GOP House Speaker Kurt Daudt, “to help make this a safer stretch of highway so no one else will have to suffer the kind of tragedies that these folks have.”
The legislative impasse on roads and bridges developed after Democrats refused to vote for a transportation bill if it doesn’t include Southwest Light Rail.
And Republicans refuse to vote for the bill if Southwest Light Rail is included.
Dayton said he’s open to the idea of a special session in June, but he’s warning Republicans against playing politics with highways.
“That’s not leadership. That’s not providing for a better Minnesota,” the governor said. “It’s putting something they think is going to be a campaign slogan for next November. And I think that’s really an irresponsible failure of governance.”
Dayton says he’ll invite Republican and Democratic leaders to meet next week to discuss conditions for coming back to the Capitol to finish their work.