Reality Check: Are Special Sessions Becoming More Common?

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Minnesota lawmakers are giving it another try Thursday — trying to end a Special Session in St. Paul that was supposed to last just one day.

Democratic Governor Mark Dayton called the Special Session at 12-oh-1 Tuesday morning so lawmakers could finish work on the $46 billion state budget.

Political differences are sharper everywhere, including Minnesota, and Special Sessions aren’t that special anymore.

They’re meeting in Special Session right now in Alaska, Washington, New Mexico, Missouri and West Virginia.

But for Minnesota, what used to be rare is the new normal.

“We certainly don’t look good at all,” political scientist David Schultz said.

Schultz says there’s been a dramatic change in governing in the place Time Magazine once called the “state that works.”

“Minnesota moved from being a solidly DFL-Democratic state to a much more competitive two, sometimes three, party state,” he said. “We’ve become very polarized in the process.”

Schultz calculates in the 135 years from 1858 to 1993, Minnesota had 33 Special Sessions — that’s about one every four years. In the 24 years since 1993, there have been 19 Special Sessions — that’s about 4 every five years.

Despite the high number of special sessions, they don’t always work. Minnesota also ranks near the top in government shutdowns or near shutdowns, with three.

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