ST. PAUL PARK, Minnesota — Gov. Mark Dayton visited the site of a weekend train collision on Tuesday to urge lawmakers to better fund rail safety improvements — one of several priorities the Democratic governor has outlined as he and the Legislature gear up for a special session as soon as later this week.
No injuries were reported in the accident Sunday in St. Paul Park, where a train hauling crude oil collided with a semitrailer carrying flour at a railroad crossing. But safety officials deemed the accident a near miss, and Dayton stood in front of the accident site to make his pitch.
"This is a microcosm of what's happening all across Minnesota," Dayton said. "We're behind."
Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt said he is willing to hear Dayton out, but doesn't want the rail issue to hold up a special session.
The main unresolved budget bill, an energy and economic development plan, had come down to three items: a $5 million proposal to assist people with disabilities in job searches and those with mental illness to avoid homelessness; a law change enabling Iron Range taconite producers to negotiate more favorable electricity costs; and a move to change how utilities set power rates for residential customers who contribute energy to the grid, such as through rooftop solar panels.