Bakk explains failed bid for Range special session

St. Paul, Minnesota - State Capitol

We can now agree that Gov. Mark Dayton’s effort to call a special session to address pressing economic issues has been undone. The casualties include, most notably, expiring unemployment benefits of Iron Range miners caught in the gears of international commerce. Dayton cited Republican resistance to agree to terms for a special session, while Republicans seemed to blame Dayton for not calling one anyway.

Now one of the parties to those negotiations, Iron Range State Sen. and Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk (DFL-Cook) is shedding light on his version of events. He said Republicans offered a “poison pill,” a provision they knew Democrats could not accept, as condition for agreeing to a special session.

Bakk explained the “poison pill” in a Sunday letter to the Mesabi Daily News:

In order for Republicans to agree to pass 26 weeks of extended unemployment, Democrats had to agree to a whopping $272 million tax break for corporations. This wide-ranging and disingenuous proposal was the final straw. If that doesn’t highlight the difference in Democratic and Republican values, I don’t know what does.

Leaders are expected to be thoughtful about the impacts of their decisions. Republicans knew their last offer would be rejected. If we did accept it, what would that mean for the next natural disaster like a flood or tornado? Would Democrats be expected to once again agree to outrageous corporate tax breaks to get communities the help they need and deserve? With a $272 million price tag, that plan would put our state on a dangerous and irresponsible path.

Last week, Republican candidate for the open House 6A seat Rob Farnsworth shared his views of the matter:

“I was disappointed to learn that Governor Dayton has decided not to convene a special session of the legislature and I urge him to reconsider. I was more disappointed to learn that he is trying to blame the Republican majority in the House. The Republican members of the House have been open to a special session that is tied to the long term health of our region. Speaker Daudt requested that as part of a deal, the governor agree to pass the Sandpiper Oil Pipeline with an American made steel provision. He also requested the Governor’s approval of non-ferrous mining. Both requests would improve the overall outlook in our region and yet the Governor refused.”

Those provisions were part of earlier negotiations. Dayton had addressed PolyMet and reiterated support for the Sandpiper Pipeline, though not to GOP liking. The idea that $272 million in tax breaks was in the mix is new. So even the finger pointing has gone into overtime. It’ll all have to wait for the delayed start of the legislative session in one month.


  1. David Willard says

    You are looking through these issues with democrat lenses, skewed toward the poor working class union miners who know they are in an unstable industry. They have the ability to make more in one year than many college graduates can in six or seven. I’m all for the iron range. I cheer for every northern Minnesota team that plays any city team. My dad worked in the mines. I graduated from Greenway. I want to move back up there. But I swear to God, every time I hear about the range people winning about their economy and extending unemployment benefits and blindly supporting the party of dependence I want to scream.

    • You sum up the success story of 10’s of thousands with a Range heritage David. Most all are proud to have grown up on the Range..and root for their sports teams forever. They’re good people but whine like babies during tough times thinking the world owes them something. It’s embarrassing, unbecoming and makes one ashamed.

  2. Fascinating. We demand the Governor do something he cannot legally do, which is circumvent the environmental review process. We also demand he approve another project despite it being mere symbolism. And we want a tax break for our benefactors and friends. If you do these yhings, we will approve six months of a pittance for workers our policies helped unemploy.

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