Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Dayton loses first round in legal battle with Legislature

Marshall Helmberger
Posted 7/20/17

REGIONAL—Gov. Mark Dayton has lost Round One of a legal battle that is likely headed for the state’s Supreme Court. Ramsey County Judge John Guthmann ruled Wednesday that the governor’s …

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Dayton loses first round in legal battle with Legislature

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REGIONAL—Gov. Mark Dayton has lost Round One of a legal battle that is likely headed for the state’s Supreme Court. Ramsey County Judge John Guthmann ruled Wednesday that the governor’s line-item veto of funding for the Minnesota Legislature violated the state’s constitution and was therefore “null and void.”

Dayton issued the vetoes back in May after legislators had included language in a tax bill that would have eliminated funding for the Department of Revenue had Dayton vetoed the bill, which he opposed. Dayton stated at the time that he had refrained from vetoing to bill to avoid a partial government shutdown.

He said he hoped his turn-about veto of the Legislature’s funding would encourage lawmakers back to the negotiating table on several provisions in the tax bill and other legislation that Dayton seeks to change. Instead, lawmakers sued, leading to Wednesday’s ruling— which Dayton says he’ll appeal.

“Today the court ruled an entire branch of government cannot be eliminated by a stroke of the governor’s pen, said Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa. “The governor should accept this verdict and allow the people of Minnesota to move on, instead of continuing to waste taxpayer dollars on expensive litigation. However, if he chooses to appeal, we will continue to defend Minnesotans’ constitutional rights to locally elected representation all the way to the Supreme Court.”

But Dayton called the judge’s ruling “a preliminary step,” and said it was clear that the decision was going to be appealed no matter which side prevailed.

“As I have said, the tax bill passed last May by Republican Legislators jeopardizes Minnesota’s structurally balanced budget in the future. By working together, Republican Leaders could join with me to remove fiscally irresponsible tax cuts and also to eliminate the un-Minnesotan attacks on our state’s immigrant communities and our dedicated teachers,” Dayton said in a written statement.

The Timberjay will have more analysis of the judge’s ruling in its July 28 edition.

Minnesota Public Radio News contributed reporting for this story.

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