Editorial: Civility can go a long way toward an agreement

Published 9:38 am Thursday, January 5, 2017

While Minnesotans may be ready to throw up their hands again with the partisan rancor between Gov. Mark Dayton and House GOP Speaker Kurt Daudt, there is at least one voice in the Republican caucus who wants to set a more civil tone.

Sen. Majority Leader Paul Gazelka told Minnesota Public Radio and others that the whole Legislature needs to in essence “tone it down” and retreat from the harsh rhetoric and fighting words of the past.

That’s a good sign, not only because it’s the right way to conduct business, but it also suggests his own party may have been part of the “tone” that was set in previous sessions. While Dayton and Daudt both can share the blame for the tone, new leaders, including new House Minority Leader Melissa Hortman may be able to help change that tone.

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We hope so.

The soft spoken Gazelka seems unlikely to negotiate with strongly worded letters back and forth, ala the exchanges Dayton and Daudt had in December. Those letters clearly were not setting a bipartisan tone.

After the disagreements got started, Dayton accused Daudt of “obfuscation” and insincerity in his stated desire for a special session. Daudt accused Dayton on moving the goal posts and changing the nature of what appeared to be a verbal agreement Dec. 2. He also questioned Dayton’s seriousness as to the desire for a special session, pointing he added controversial projects to his bonding request like the Phase 2 of the Minnesota Sex Offender Program.

In the meantime, Daudt issued a press release criticizing Dayton on another unrelated issue, the denial of Twin Metals federal government leases for mining projects on the Iron Range.

Gazelka seems willing to do at least two things right: Don’t negotiate with tersely worded letters back and forth, and have tentative agreements in writing so everyone is on the same page as they head into final negotiations.

Gazelka and Hortman also seem to agree that each knows what the other party will not accept and move on from there. We hope Dayton and Daudt take the same approach.

Minnesotans, from Pipestone to Grand Marais, are tired of gridlock.

— Mankato Free Press, Jan. 4

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