Gov. Dayton, legislative leaders to answer questions together

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ST. PAUL—Minnesota's governor and legislative leaders often communicate with each other by letter or by talking to the media.

But a week before the 2018 session is to begin, Gov. Mark Dayton and leaders from both parties will sit at the same table and answer the same questions.

Forum News Service will bring the five together in front of journalists from around Minnesota for a pre-session briefing. The briefing could be especially interesting this year after Democrat Dayton won a constitutional challenge by the Republican-controlled Legislature over his veto of legislative funding.

But it will not just be tension between the governor and lawmakers. At a recent legislative forum without Dayton, Democratic and Republican leaders were far apart about what they would accept in a bill funding the Legislature. Without such a bill, lawmakers would run out of money.

Joining Dayton at the testifiers' table will be House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown; Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa; House Minority Leader Melissa Hortman, D-Brooklyn Park; and Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk, D-Cook.

This will be the only time the leaders and governor appear at the same time and location before the session. It also will be Dayton's last appearance at the event since his second and final term ends just before the 2019 session begins in early January.

Forum News Service annually sponsors the briefing, which begins at 1 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 13. A livestream will be available via Forum Communications Company Minnesota websites and the Minnesota Senate Media Services website. Senate media also will archive it so it can be played back later.

Reporters from news organizations across Minnesota will have an hour with the five officials.
The briefings, which started about 20 years ago, provide information for reporters writing stories previewing the upcoming session. They often also produce breaking news.

The legislative session begins at noon Feb. 20 and must end by May 21.
Forum News Service provides state and regional news to dozens of Upper Midwest newspapers. The service's Minnesota Capitol-based reporter, Don Davis, will moderate the briefing.