Republican sues to block Senate building project

Published 10:09 am Friday, November 1, 2013

ST. PAUL — A former Republican state representative sued Gov. Mark Dayton and the state of Minnesota on Thursday in an attempt to block the construction of a $90 million office building for the state Senate.

“To me this is such a ridiculous case of a glaring waste of money,” said Jim Knoblach, a St. Cloud businessman who served in the state House from 1995 to 2006.

But Knoblach’s lawsuit does not address whether the new building is a worthwhile use of taxpayer dollars. Rather, it claims the Legislature’s Democratic majority violated the state Constitution by authorizing its construction in the tax bill, which isn’t a typical means of approving large building projects.

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Knoblach’s attorney, Erick Kaardal, said he would seek an injunction to block Dayton administration officials from spending money on the project while the lawsuit plays out.

The building itself is estimated to cost $63 million, with another roughly $27 million meant for two parking structures that would also serve other Capitol campus tenants.

Planned just north of the Capitol, the building is on a tight construction timeline that would have it done by 2015. A Department of Administration spokesman said the state has already hired construction and design firms, and plans to break ground February or March.