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Another disappointing end to session

State Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen told The Chronicle Monday that the 2016 legislative session ended on a “sour note.”
That was one of his more mild statements in describing the failure of the state Legislature to pass transportation and bonding bills.
Minnesotans seem to be united in their opinion that improvements to roads and bridges need to be a top priority for the state Legislature. Legislators seem to agree, but fell apart when it came to how to fund those improvements, and whether light rail should be involved.
According to Gruenhagen, metro-area Democrats sabotaged a crafted bipartisan bill at the last minute by adding on funding for the southwest light rail proposal, hoping to use state funds to leverage $900 million for a light rail expansion from downtown Minneapolis to Eden Prairie.
Other legislators expressed other frustrations as last-minute politics took place. There were reports of legislators hauling around supplement spending bills “as thick as textbooks” as they tried to educate themselves before an 11th-hour vote.
Sen. Melissa Franzen, DFL-Edina, said she was having trouble voting on a proposed tax cut bill, because she didn’t know what the proposed spending amount is.
“It’s hard to see the entire picture,” Franzen said.
State Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes, criticized the secretive, last-minute deal making.
And he probably expressed the frustrations of Minnesotans best when he said, “I’m frustrated because it cuts Minnesotans out of the deal. I hate this end of session nonsense. You have big omnibus bills and you have a few people in a room getting stuff together that … undermines the democratic process we have.”
Because legislators failed to pass bills within the required deadline, Gov. Mark Dayton is faced with the decision of whether or not to call a special session.
Special sessions seem to have become the rule rather than the exception in Minnesota. And we know from past experience with special sessions that secrecy and closed-door negotiations have also become the rule, rather than the exception. Legislators come to the special sessions ill-prepared to vote on major omnibus bills.
Minnesotans have been begging their legislators for years — perhaps even decades — to learn to compromise, reach across the aisle and try to do what’s best for Minnesotans.
We’ll just have to keep begging, and hope some day someone will actually listen.