Is there anything special about a special session? Minnesota’s governors called only three special sessions in the first half century of statehood, but have called 29 since 1959.
There have been three special sessions called to address major disasters: floods in 2002 and 1997 and the Sioux wars of 1862.
With the bridge on a major transportation artery collapsed and three counties in southern Minnesota under water, it would not be hard to consider this the kind “extraordinary occasion” upon which the state consitution allows the governor to call a special session. Negotiations on a special session agenda continue.
“Any special session should be confined to addressing immediate needs,” said Rep. Chris DeLaForest, R-Andover, expressing the concern of many Republicans. “Otherwise there’s a great risk of a chaotic free-for-all.”
Back in 1862, on the eve of a special session called to address concerns over the Dakota conflict, The Stillwater Messenger made the same observation after rumors circulated that the Legislature planned to elect Gov. Alexander Ramsey to the U.S. Senate:
“The critical state of our domestic affairs rendered this course by the Governor highly appropriate, and if the members will but go to work with energy and prudence and finish up the business of the session and adjourn at the earliest possible moment, the people will heartily acquiesce in their actions”
The Faribault Republican was even more pointed, warning:
“They better not do it (electing Ramsey); particularly the members of Southern Minnesota, and the Minnesota Valley; and if they do they should return with their coffins on their backs, for their constituents will have their political graves dug for them when they get home.”
Lawmakers met and the immediately began debating the first order of business: collecting per diem and mileage.
Here are some questions and answers concerning special sessions: