- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 6, 2015

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Top Minnesota lawmakers have had early discussions about cramming more work into the next five months so they could skip a 2016 session amid a major Capitol renovation project.

Senate Minority Leader David Hann raised the prospect Tuesday as he reflected on the disruption from construction, and Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk hasn’t ruled it out. Bakk acknowledged having preliminary talks with House Speaker Kurt Daudt about that option, but cautioned it could be difficult to pull off.

Minnesota’s Capitol is undergoing a $270 million makeover that has two-thirds of the building walled off. The Senate would have to meet in a temporary chamber during a 2016 session because its existing wing will get shut down this summer.

The challenge would be to fit next year’s tasks into a 2015 session already brimming with work on a new state budget and a large-scale transportation funding plan. In election-year sessions, lawmakers usually pass a borrowing bill for publicly financed construction projects.

“We would have to assume that in the event of some kind of revenue shortfall, the governor would be willing to call a special session next year and bring us back,” Bakk said.

Daudt said he is open to the possibility of canceling the 2016 session, but said the first priority is to get essential work done in 2015.

There are other considerations, such as the visibility that lawmakers running for re-election would forfeit if they don’t have a session that allows regular exposure.

Bakk said leaders should know by the end of March if enough work is getting done to keep considering an extended legislative recess.

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