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Minnesota Gov. Dayton says special session won't happen

ST. PAUL -- Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton this morning ended his hopes for a special legislative session to extend unemployment benefits to Iron Rangers, begin the process of matching state identification cards with federal requirements and launch e...

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Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton announces Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016, that he will not call a special legislative session. He blamed a Republican plan to cut a business tax $270 million. (Forum News Service photo by Don Davis)

ST. PAUL -- Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton this morning ended his hopes for a special legislative session to extend unemployment benefits to Iron Rangers, begin the process of matching state identification cards with federal requirements and launch efforts to reduce a financial disparity between black and white Minnesotans.

"It is with great regret I am announcing today that I will not be able to call for a special session of the Minnesota Legislature," Dayton told reporters.

He blamed House Republicans, who he said at 4 p.m. Monday produced a proposal to reduce unemployment taxes businesses pay by $270 million in exchange for supporting Dayton's request to add $29 million to unemployment benefits for miners and others on the Range.

Taconite mines across northeastern Minnesota are closing temporarily and permanently as the American steel industry slumps. Taconite is used to make steel, and many steel plants are idled.

Mines have laid off about 2,000 people, and the impact is spreading to mine-related and other community businesses.

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Dayton in November suggested a special session to extend unemployment benefits, a move that has been used when other industries have experienced significant downturns.

Also being discussed for a special session was changing the state law that forbids the state public safety commissioner from taking action -- or even talking about -- matching state driver's license and identification card requirements with new federal standards.

Dayton said he will take House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, at his word that the Legislature will take up the issue immediately after returning for its 2016 session on March 8.

The third issue being considered for a special session was response to a report earlier this year that blacks are losing income while whites are advancing, widening an already large economic divide.

Dayton also said he is healthy after fainting at a Woodbury event Sunday night. He spent Sunday night and much of Monday in Regions Hospital, suffering from dehydration.

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