Shutdown enters second week; MN rest areas still closed

By Clarissa Kell-Holland, Land Line staff writer | 7/11/2011

More than 22,000 state employees were idled and all but three of the state’s safety rest areas were barricaded on or before July after Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and key Republican lawmakers failed to reach a budget agreement. All but the most critical state services were closed.

However, the Minneapolis Star Tribune is reporting on Sunday, July 10, that 138 state lawmakers will continue to be paid during the shutdown, which has left many people out of work and some teetering on the edge of losing their jobs.

Gov. Dayton and 62 of the state’s 200 legislators have declined to accept paychecks during the shutdown, the news outlet is reporting.

During the 11-day shutdown, truck drivers are reporting that their safe parking options are limited as the rest areas continue to be closed and truck stops are overflowing with trucks before sunset.

There’s still no word on when a decision will be reached on the Minnesota Trucking Association’s petition to the special master who has been appointed to recommend funding for core government functions. MTA President John Hausladen testified recently before Minnesota state Supreme Court Chief Kathleen Blatz, special master, arguing that keeping the rest areas open are core functions of the state government since truck parking is already scarce.

Blatz recently denied funding for the state’s Drivers and Vehicle Services department, citing that keeping the electronic vehicle registration system running for dealerships is not a core government function.

A decision regarding the rest area petition was not on the special master’s docket for Tuesday, July 12.