If there is a government shutdown, the House and Senate will be able to hold sessions and have enough staff to perform critical core functions necessary to produce legislation.
Some would consider this a minor part of the ruling issued by Ramsey County District Court Chief Judge Kathleen Gearin on essential services to stay functioning if there is no budget agreement by midnight Thursday. But the ruling guarantees that the Legislature can function during a potential government shutdown, and operate in a special session.
As Republican leaders continued meeting with the governor in hopes of crafting a last-minute budget agreement, others were combing the pages of the judge’s order, to learn what would be funded in the worst case scenario.
“This is going to be a very tough shutdown,” said David Lillehaug, the governor’s attorney in the matter. He said that people who take government services for granted will realize quickly “the importance of government. … Nobody who reads this order could say there’s a soft landing.”
Some of the services to be protected if a shutdown occurs include:
- basic custodial care for residents in state-funded institutions, including prisons and nursing homes;
- public safety;
- essential elements of the state financial system, including tax collection; and
- supportive services, including computer system maintenance and Internet security.
The court also ruled that local units of government can receive their local government aid, and animals at the Minnesota Zoo would be cared for.
Further determinations on essential functions will be handled by former Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz, who has been appointed as a special master. According to the court documents, her role is “to create an orderly process to resolve requests for, or objections to funding.”