ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – Gov. Mark Dayton and top legislative leaders met Thursday to discuss an agenda for a possible special session.
The governor, House Speaker Kurt Daudt and Majority Leader Tom Bakk met for an hour at the governor’s mansion. The leaders emerged without a date or an agreement for a special session, but all three said the meeting was a positive one.
“I think we have a basis to keep these conversations going,” Dayton said.
The governor has said that extending unemployment benefits for laid-off Iron Range workers is a top priority.
Bakk says a bigger fix is needed.
“This unemployment issue on the Iron Range is affecting thousands of families,” he said. “It’s about way more than steel workers who are laid off.”
The three also discussed potential aide to minority communities in the aftermath of protests over the death of Jamar Clark. However, the governor said he wants input from community leaders first.
Another topic the leaders discussed was Real ID. Currently, the state is awaiting a decision from Homeland Security on how much longer Minnesotans can continue to use their driver’s licenses as IDs to get on planes.
Current Minnesota drivers licenses are not in compliance with federal post-9/11 standards, meaning that as soon as next year Minnesotans could need a second form of ID – such as a passport — to get on a plane.
While all three leaders insisted that progress was made, Daudt acknowledged any special session will be a tough sell for many of his fellow Republicans.
“I am not really comfortable with an agreement that signs away my members’ constitutional right to offer amendment and have discussion and debate,” the speaker said.
Help for Minnesota’s Iron Range will be the subject of a meeting next Tuesday in Virginia that will be attended by White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough. Dayton, Bakk and Daudt said they all planned to attend that meeting.