Legislative session coming to an end - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Legislative session coming to an end

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (FOX 47) -- There's nearly one week left until the end of the legislative session, and nearly all of the major budget bills have yet to hit the House and Senate floors.

"Typically we would have heard those, had them conferenced, and have had them voted on, and that hasn't happened yet this year," said Kim Norton, DFL-Rochester.

But the largely republican conference committees in charge of merging house and senate bills together, say their bills are ready for review, but they want Governor Mark Dayton's input before bringing them up to a floor vote.

"When you get into all of the angst that has to do with vetoing and red pens and things like this, this year we're simply trying to ignore that angst, deal with them as a group: the house, the senate, the governor, try to come to some agreement before we adopt the bills off the floor," said Dave Senjem, R-Rochester.

For Democratic Rep. Kim Norton, she says the DFL caucus has largely been left out of the loop this year and wondering what actually is coming out in these budget bills.

"For the most part, democrats have not been involved in any of the conference committees, [but] there are a few exceptions...One or two democrats," Norton said. "Typically, they're all republican conference committees, which in my four years up there, five years now, has not happened. So, this is very different. It's going to be behind the scenes, kind of less transparent bargaining than I think most citizens would prefer, and certainly than I would."

Gov. Dayton has already said he would not sign separate budget bills without seeing the entire package.

As of Saturday night, though, nearly all of the conference committee bills are online for public viewing, and republicans think that will satisfy the governor's request.

But with major differences in the bills themselves, ending the session on time is becoming less likely.

"It's going to be a long week. If we're kind of real about this, I'm not sure we can finish all of our bills within the next week," Senjem said.

Leaving citizens to wonder, just how long it will it take for the lawmakers to find a compromise.

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