Minnesota leaders agree to end shutdown

Jill Dunn | July 15, 2011

On the 14th day of Minnesota’s shutdown, state leaders announced a tentative budget agreement they hope will lead to a resumption of services within days.

Democrat Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican House Speaker Kurt Zellers and Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch held a press conference announcing a settlement July 14. In upcoming days, legislators will revise budget bills to vote on in a special session.

Officials were vague about a timeline. A date has not been set for the special session, and Koch said bill revisions would be hammered out over “the next couple of days.” Both Republicans said the GOP majority in both chambers would likely support the agreement.

When the governor was asked when the shutdown would ended, he responded “very soon, within days.” 

They did not mention transportation services at the conference. The shutdown hit truckers hard after officials closed the state’s rest areas, Driver and Vehicle Service credentialing services, and halted all but emergency road work.

Judging by their stony expressions, the deal left the three unsatisfied. Dayton had presented Koch and Zellers a letter earlier that day that he would agree to their June 30 offer sheet, even though he disagreed with the terms.

The agreement bridges the remaining $1.4 billion gap between the two caucuses by obtaining $700 million by extending the school aid shift and $700 million by issuing state bonds against future tobacco revenues. “Unfortunately, your plan achieves this goal, not by permanent sources of funding, but rather by borrowing an additional $1.4 billion,” the governor wrote.

However, his agreement to the offer sheet is contingent on three conditions:

  • That Republican leaders would hold true to recent statements about removing policy issues from remaining negotiations and legislative action following the shutdown.
  • They eliminate a proposed 15 percent reduction in the number of state employees, regardless of their funding source.
  • After budget issues are resolved in the special session, they back a bonding bill in that session of not less than $500 million.

Before the press conference, the Minnesota Trucking Association posted suggestions on how truckers can cope until the shutdown is through.

Federal regulations require carriers to obtain driver motor vehicle records annually or when hiring, but third-party providers are unable to access this data during the shutdown. Although there is no guarantee that they will, truckers can ask local law enforcement to run these records. A second records check should be done after the shutdown ends to ensure no infractions have occurred since July 1.

Drivers who need to renew their CDL can do so at their local deputy registrar’s office.

The closed Driver and Vehicle Services cannot issue a permanent plastic card, but a temporary license is valid for 45 days. After government services fully resume, the DVS will issue the permanent cards as quickly as possible to the temporary license holders.

Hazmat endorsements will not be issued until DVS exam stations reopen.

The MTA has hired a law firm to provide a white paper on handling titles and registration until the shutdown ends, the association added.

The MTA’s suggestions are here.