In a regular session, the legislature proposes and the governor disposes. It is the same in a special session, but the initiation is where it differs because the governor decides when the legislature is called back and that is a leverage point. In 1998, Governor Arne Carlson (R-MN) waited three weeks before he called the legislature back. In 2010, Governor Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) the legislature was called back the next day to pass the budget and bills that were finally agreed upon. In 2011, Governor Mark Dayton (DFL-MN) held off until 3 weeks after the start of the new fiscal year to call the legislature back into session while state parks and non-essential state services were closed.
So, timing becomes important and looking reflectively at other special sessions we can see how different approaches occurred.
The different perspectives we have in divided government create a contextual conflict because since each side has its own election certificates, they feel emboldened by their philosophies that got them where they are. Republicans as the anti-government party like to prove the government is inefficient and not as productive as the private sector. DFLers who carry the support of many of the state’s labor unions, particularly, AFSCME, MAPE and Education Minnesota which have interests in ensuring employees are duly compensated for their work and the workplace a is a safe and constructive environment.
The philosophical differences between the parties is where the tension exists. Republicans seek to stem growth in the public sector and create structural impediments to allowing the government to flourish. While DFLers seek a means to respect the work from the public sector and create more effective models for the delivery of public services. These perspective differences set the stage for the fundamental disagreement.
Right now, the likelihood of a special session is higher than the legislature finishing on time, but there still are three more days for the work to be done.
Defining Success Legislative Style
Because Minnesota has divided government there are two distinctively different manners of defining success. Republican success will be defined if they hold down governmental spending and establish limits on future growth areas, while DFLers will trumpet improvements in the delivery of services and then a number of people helped by government moving forward.