Special session for miners remains elusive

bandiera Minnesota

Gov. Mark Dayton and Minnesota legislative leaders met again Thursday, Jan. 21 to discuss a possible early special session, but again failed to agree to terms.

Dayton’s proposed special session would address, among other things, an extension of unemployment benefits for Iron Range miners laid off during the ongoing mining downturn.

Dayton, State Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk (DFL-Cook) and House Speaker Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) have yet to agree on terms for a session, part of the normal decorum for a governor to call a special gathering of legislators.

So far as yesterday’s meeting is concerned, Speaker Daudt appears to be representing the body least interested in an early session.

From Rachel Stassen-Berger at the St. Paul Pioneer Press:

“We feel, at this point, we probably shouldn’t have a special session,” said Daudt, R-Crown. “The issues that we have talked about, we believe, or at least I believe, can and probably should wait for regular session.”

The regular legislative session is starting late this year due to renovations at the state capitol. That session will open in early March but will still conclude at the normal time. As a result, the session is expected to be a very busy, potentially chaotic election year legislative donnybrook.

The issues affecting the Iron Range mining downturn are complex, but in the near-term hundreds of Iron Range miners will see their unemployment benefits expire before economic conditions would allow their employers to reopen. Weakness in the Range economy means there are few comparable jobs, and that taking new work would often mean leaving the area. Retraining programs are available, but again point to some of the same problems.

Many Iron Range leaders and the Steelworkers union argue that keeping the mining workforce at full strength, and helping families during a tough time, are important reasons to pass the extension.



  1. Maybe if the Range DFL wouldn’t treat the rest of the DFL as a convenient mistress, to be dumped whenever next years model comes along, there might be more concern. The deals struck with the Republicans at the end of 2011 and last year look oh so beneficial now. Perhaps they all can find something else to boycott and alienate some more off the island of insanity?

  2. John Ramos says

    I’m concerned about the apostrophe in the title of this post. Why are you talking about miners’ remains?

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