Bickering starts early in 2013 sessionST. PAUL — The 2013 Minnesota legislative session started with Republicans and Democrats pledging to work together, but just 48 hours later that promise already seems to be falling apart.
By: Don Davis and Danielle Killey, The Republican Eagle
ST. PAUL — The 2013 Minnesota legislative session started with Republicans and Democrats pledging to work together, but just 48 hours later that promise already seems to be falling apart.
Senate Minority Leader David Hann said Thursday it appears to him that “all talk of being bipartisan is going down the drain.”
For example, Hann, R-Eden Prairie, said that he and Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk have not met since the election, which Hann called a surprise. A spokesman for Bakk said the Democratic Cook senator called Hann to congratulate him after his win in November, but never heard back. Efforts to meet privately stopped there.
Republican senators called out Democrats during a committee meeting Thursday to approve staff members and their pay, saying Republican staffers took a larger salary cut than Democrat and nonpartisan Senate employees.
“To me it just doesn’t smell right,” committee member Sen. Paul Gazelka, R-Brainerd, said.
Hann called the move “unfair,” “punitive,” “arbitrary” and “disrespectful” throughout the day. Senators spent more than two hours between the committee meeting and a full Senate session fighting over the issue.
Bakk said he is trying to keep the Senate budget in check. There is some uncertainty, for example, in how high the bills will be in an ongoing lawsuit with former staffer Michael Brodkorb, who sued the Senate after he was fired. He had a relationship with former Majority Leader Amy Koch of Buffalo.
Other GOP lawmakers joined with Hann on the Senate floor urging Democrats to reconsider the policy. They got nowhere.
Hann said he still thinks there are areas where Democrats and Republicans can work together and did not know whether the bickering would continue throughout the rest of the session.