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Will governor, lawmakers' media encounter be tense?

Before a February 2016 briefing with reporters, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, left, and House Speaker Kurt Daudt were smiles. Things later became tense. (Forum News Service photo by Michael Longaecker)1 / 2
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton eyes House Speaker Kurt Daudt in February of 2016 as the two participated in a pre-legislative briefing for reporters. (Forum News Service photo by Michael Longaecker)2 / 2

ST. PAUL—The last time Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and House Speaker Kurt Daudt met, it lasted about a quarter of an hour before the governor walked out, saying Daudt did not want to help people afford health insurance.

"That was about as productive as everyone thought it would be," Daudt, R-Crown, said Friday, Dec. 16, as he left the brief, tense meeting.

The meeting was filled with finger pointing over who was responsible for lack of a special legislative session to help individual health insurance policy holders facing sky-rocketing costs.

The meeting breakup, or breakdown, apparently ended chances of a special session to provide financial aid that all sides say is needed. As that meeting ended, questions arose about how state leaders who exchanged more verbal blasts than policy ideas can get along in the 2017 session with even more at stake.

The next time the Dayton and Daudt will be at the same table will along with three other legislative leaders Monday when Forum News Service hosts the annual pre-session briefing to get an idea about what to expect during the 2017 regular legislative session. Minnesotans will be able to watch on the web.

The governor promised to be at the briefing for an hour, and legislative leaders are expected to remain 90 minutes. What happens when they are together is anyone's guess.

The event begins at 1 p.m. and will be live streamed at and on Forum Communications Company websites throughout Minnesota.

Joining Dayton and Daudt at the table Monday will be Senate Majority Leader-elect Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, Senate Minority Leader-elect Tom Bakk, D-Cook, (the current majority leader) and House Minority Leader-elect Melissa Hortman, D-Brooklyn Park.

The traditional briefing is designed to allow reporters from around Minnesota to ask the top policymakers what they want to see happen during the session. In this case, 2017 is the year when the Democratic governor and the Legislature controlled by Republicans supposed to draw up a two-year state budget expected to top $40 billion.

The last time Republicans controlled the Legislature and Dayton was in the governor's office, the state endured a three-week government shutdown, Minnesota's longest.

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