When Minnesotans look back on the legislative session that ended last week, one issue likely comes to mind—the Vikings stadium.
“Unfortunately the session was dominated by the Vikings, and I just wish we’d get back to basics,” said Rep. Nora Slawik (DFL-Maplewood). “I want to talk about education, health care, jobs.”
Oakdale’s legislators said there were some disappointments in the session that ended last Thursday, but also some big accomplishments.
Sen. Chuck Wiger (DFL-Maplewood) said he was shocked he was able to get back into the bonding bill after it had been eliminated by leadership and in the version passed in the House. Although he doubted the amendment would pass, he said he made a “rather impassioned plea” for the center, which provides shelter to victims of domestic violence, and the amendment passed by one vote.
“That was a Hail Mary,” he said. “That was one of my proudest moments.”
Although the Legislature adjourned, the fate of a p at the Tanner’s Lake redevelopment is still uncertain. The TIF extension is a provision in a second tax bill passed by the House and Senate after Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed the first tax bill, and the governor hadn’t said as of Sunday evening whether he’ll sign the new bill.
Both Slawik and Wiger said they’ve contacted Dayton’s office urging him to sign the bill, which contains controversial tax cuts for businesses. In Slawik's case, she'd pushing for Dayton to sign the bill even though she voted against it, she said, solely due to Oakdale's provision. Wiger voted for the bill.
“I suspect he might veto it,” she said, “so this is the really unfortunate part of politics, where really important local provisions become caught in the politics of session.”
For Slawik, the end of the session also marked her retirement from public office after seven terms in the Minnesota House.
She said she’ll miss the public service, but she’s leaving at a time when the Capitol has become “a very frustrating place, and partisan place.”
“I just hope that will change,” she said. She blames the tea party for some of the increased partisanship, she said.
“Many of them are there to destroy government and we’re there to help the people,” she said, “and if you put those two against each other, it doesn’t work very well.”
This fall’s election could change those dynamics, she said.
“If the majorities change, the tone of the Legislature will change, I hope,” she said. “I’m looking forward to being a spectator and watching from the outside.”