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SPECIAL SESSION: What happened and what’s ahead?

ROCHESTER, Minn. (FOX 47) -- A third special legislative is now in the books for Minnesota lawmakers.

Several pieces of legislation passed Wednesday, as well as a vote to oust the state's Labor and Industry Commissioner. The 34 to 32 vote Senate vote removing Gov. Tim Walz's Department of Labor and Industry Commissioner Nancy Leppink was a move that came as a surprise to both House and Senate DFLers.

"I think this was a very partisan, very uncalled for action. They did it without any notice that they were going to be doing this," said Rep. Tina Leibling, (DFL) Rochester. "In the middle of a pandemic to remove the commissioner who is responsible for workers safety is a very concerning thing."

"I didn't see it as a partisan issue," said Sen. Carla Nelson, (R) Rochester. "I saw it as a competency issue and in this time we just really need all hands on deck."

However, there is one thing both sides of the aisle agree on 100 percent: the state needs a bonding bill. Even so, lawmakers still have yet to reach an agreement on the one billion dollar plus bill. Some, like Leibling, believe its failure so far is a result of the governor's continued emergency power extensions.

"If the governor still needs his emergency powers, he's not going to give that up to make Republicans happy," Leibling said.

Others disagree with the assessment.

"I think the bonding bill is incredibly important and it has nothing to do with the emergency powers," Nelson said.

Still, there's hope.

"We always have problems with whatever bill is put forward," Leibling said. "But, I think the need to get the bill out there and get those jobs in the pipeline is super important."

"Like my dad always taught me, 'where there's a will, there's a way,'" Nelson said. "I believe there is a way to get this necessary bonding bill done and out the door. It needs to get broad bi-partisan support from both caucuses in both bodies of the House and Senate."

Walz could bring lawmakers back for another special session in September, it's expected by both Leibling and Nelson. Both lawmakers also say they hope a bonding bill gets passed then.

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Beret Leone

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