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GOP Senators question new Senate Office Building

Minnesota state Senate Minority Leader David Hann held a press conference explaining why the GOP caucus opposes the building of the Senate Office Building. Joining him were Sen. Ingebritsen and Sen. Newmann of the Senate Bonding Committee. Sen. Hann made three points in his opening statement. Here's the partial transcript for the first point:

We don't believe, and our caucus doesn't believe, that we ought to rush into a Rules Committee hearing and vote on this project and one reason is that there's a hearing scheduled next week for the lawsuit filed by former state Rep. Jim Knoblach questioning the constitutionality of the process by which this project was enacted.

Rep. Knoblach is challenging the constitutionality of including the Senate Office Building in the Omnibus Tax Bill on the grounds that it violates the Minnesota Constitution's Single Subject Clause:

Article IV, section 17 of the Minnesota Constitution reads: “Laws to embrace only one subject. No law shall embrace more than one subject, which shall be expressed in its title.”

Appropriating money to build a government building has nothing in common with setting marginal income tax and sales tax rates, which is the heart of last year's Omnibus Tax Bill. Sen. Hann continued:

Secondly, we want to make the point that there will be no Republicans voting for this project in the Rules Committee.

That's the principled stand to take, especially in light of the fact that a) this project was inserted in the Tax Bill as an amendment and b) there wasn't a standalone bill proposing this project. The reason why that's important is because the public wasn't given the opportunity to testify against this politicians' pork palace.

Sen. Hann noted that the bill didn't cite a funding mechanism for the project, noting that capital improvements are usually paid for through the sale of bonds. Sen. Hann cited the fact that bonding bills require 60% of the Senate and 60% of the House to vote for the Bonding Bill for it to pass.

That's because it's illegal for the current legislature to essentially force future legislatures to appropriate money for a project they passed.

Finally, Sen. Hann responded to a question by saying that the proposed Senate Office Building won't solve a problem because it'll only have office space for 44 of the 67 state senators. Spending $63,000,000 on a project that won't even house the senators, much less the Senate hearing rooms, is foolish.

Then again, that's the trademark of this DFL legislature.

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