- Associated Press - Thursday, November 12, 2015

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Minnesota’s Senate Republicans have decided against moving into a new office building for at least another year, their leader said Thursday.

Senate Minority Leader David Hann told The Associated Press that his members concluded the relocation isn’t worth the hassle. The decision to spurn the three-story, $90 million Senate building also tracks with the GOP’s strong opposition to constructing it in the first place.

“The consensus is right now people don’t see the reason to move,” Hann said. “There’s no need for the space we’re in. It is a disruption to move. There is a cost to the public to move. It is a very short session and we’ll have to move again after the next election.”

Hann said the caucus discussed the issue during a wider-ranging meeting last week. They didn’t take any votes but Hann said the message was clear.

He said Senate Republicans know of no tenant waiting for their current first-floor space in the State Office Building so there’s less pressure to pack up. Hann issued a statement later Thursday saying Republicans would consider moving if a new tenant surfaces imminently.

There has been discussion about moving off-site employees of the Revisor’s Office into the space Republicans would vacate, but it’s not clear how far along the planning is. The head of the Department of Administration, which is the government real estate manager, said any reallocation of Capitol complex space would typically be agreed to by the House, Senate and governor’s office.

“It is unusual to have a building constructed and not have the tenants want to move in. This is a new situation,” said Administration Commissioner Matt Massman, who added that he hopes Republicans reconsider.

Next November’s election could require lots of office changes, too, to account for new lawmakers or a change in majority.

Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, the chamber’s top Democrat, argued Republicans will effectively have two offices assigned to them - one in each building.

“This is exactly the kind of short-term political gamesmanship that Minnesotans have no time for,” Bakk said. “I am surprised to learn that Senate Republicans have decided to add additional costs to taxpayers by refusing to move to their Senate Office Building offices.”

Senate floor sessions will be held in one of the new building’s auditorium-sized rooms and committees will meet there as well, so Republicans will have to enter the place no matter what.

Members of the Democratic majority are choosing offices they intend to occupy beginning in January. Democratic senators have been without dedicated offices since June, when the Capitol was closed entirely as part of a renovation.

Next year, only the House chamber will open for the legislative session. There will be little public observance space and no working plumbing, meaning even lawmakers will be left only with outdoor portable toilets.

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