Take a second look at Senate office building project

Last year, in the waning moments of the legislative session, as the state tax bill was heading for final approval, Senate Democrats stuck in a $90 million project that had nothing to do with taxes – a new Senate office building to be built near the Capitol.

It was a proposal that got passed and signed into law without benefit of the regular committee hearings and discussions, which would have undoubtedly raised the same questions that people have been asking since it was passed – what the heck does the Senate need with this glass fronted palace?

The project has been stalled in the House, where it has to be approved by the Rules Committee. House members aren’t ready to rubber stamp this project.

A lawsuit has been filed claiming the project violated the Minnesota constitution’s requirement that bills should cover a single issue – taxes are supposed to go in the tax bill, building projects go in a building bill, and you aren’t supposed to mash a building project into a tax bill. Now, this provision is probably one of the most violated constitutional measures in the state, but it’s a question that needs to be answered. The lawsuit was denied but is up before the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

We know Senate Democrats want this building, and think they deserve it, but the taxpayers of Minnesota deserve to have legislators who give careful consideration to these kinds of projects and follow the proper legislative procedures when they consider them.

We say the Legislature should scuttle this project and give it a proper hearing.

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