MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota Legislative session starts next week, and at least in a presession news conference, the governor and legislative leaders pledged to work together despite their personal and political differences.
Gov. Mark Dayton, House Speaker Kurt Daudt and other legislative leaders fielded questions from reporters for over an hour Tuesday morning.
Last year’s session was marred by bitter infighting, culminating in the governor’s line-item veto of funding for the legislative branch.
House Speaker Kurt Daudt began the session by taken a selfie with the Governor. Despite a history of public clashes, both men insist they are on good terms.
“I have great respect for the Speaker. I like him, we get along well,” Gov. Dayton said.
“We have a very good personal relationship,” Speaker Daudt said. “We always have gotten along really well, and I have a high level of respect for the governor.”
One area of agreement is a tougher stand on sexual harassment. Last year, two legislators — Democratic Senator Dan Schoen and Republican Representative Tony Cornish — resigned after female legislators accused them of sexual harassment.
Speaker Daudt says a new House committee will enforce new standards and training.
“I have instituted a mandatory training, as mandatory as I can make it, for members of the legislature,” he said. “If members choose not to participate in that, they will be removed from their committee assignments.”
And House Minority Leader Melissa Hortman raised the possibility of the legislature enacting new sexual harassment laws.
“We have to look at all of the workplaces in Minnesota and we have to ask ourselves whether the current laws are doing what they need to do to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace,” she said.
But the leaders did not address how they can bridge disputes, including the big one left over from last year of funding for the legislature.
Adding to the tension in this legislative session is the fact that all 134 members of the Minnesota house are up for reelection in November.
The legislative session will convene on Tuesday, Feb. 20.