Friday, May 16, 2008

Friday on My Mind. Staying with a musical theme for the week, this title comes from the only hit from those second-tier British invaders of the 1960s, the Easybeats. Unfortunately, the lyric "going to have fun in the city" will not apply to St. Paul, or at least in the building in St. Paul located at the southeast quadrant of the intersection of University Avenue and Park Street.

dit...dit dit dit dit...dit. . .dit dit dit dit. . .dit . . .dit dit dit. . .dit . . .dit dit dit. . .we interrupt this program (and I'm serious here), a fellow lobbyist just got a text message saying that a deal has been reached on the major issues. I'll get back to you with details later.

Deal or no deal, it is going to be extremely busy for the next 48 hours. There is no indication at this time whether or not the Governor will sign HF 6, the bill that expends a modest amount of new revenue and provides some increased budget flexibility for school districts. He has until midnight to make a decision on the bill.

Rumor has it that the Legislature is looking for an appropriate vehicle bill for making another run at passing an education policy bill, most likely one lacking the report card provisions and other items the Governor objects to.

Perhaps I should take a little time to explain what a vehicle bill is. During the legislative session, a number of bills pass through the committees process, but instead of proceeding on their own, their contents are put into one of the omnibus budget or policy bills. Just because the language of a bill is incorporated into an omnibus bill does not mean that particular bill is dead as an individual effort. Sometimes, an author will continue to push a bill to protect against the prospect of the language being dropped by a conference committee.

In any event, think of these bills as abandoned cars or empty boxes. If they are needed, they can be revived and passed on their own or used as "vehicles" for other provisions. To some, this may seem like an underhanded twisting of the process. In fact, it is just another useful way to get important things done at the legislative level in the event other avenues are closed.

Just your civics lesson for the day. I will keep you clued in as the evening wears on.

Update. It's 10:30 PM and both Houses of the Legislature have adjourned for the evening. A deal is imminent. Listening to legislators on both sides and representatives of the Governor's office, something is going have to happen soon because they've run out of cliches to describe how close they are to making a deal.

Some happenings I neglected to report in my earlier missive. SF 3871 now contains a scaled-down version of the 2008 education policy bill. The report card reforms and a few other items the Governor found objectionable have been removed from the bill. It passed the Senate on a vote of 59-0, but it is unclear whether or not the House is going to pick up the bill and pass it. Again, there is nothing in the bill that the fate of the republic rests upon, but there are several useful technical changes and minor policy changes that would be positive steps.

Elsewhere, the Governor has until midnight to veto HF 6--the education funding package passed on Tuesday--or it becomes law. The fate of that bill may rest upon whether or not a "global" agreement that encompasses the rest of the budget situation is reached. In the absence of an agreement, it would be my guess that HF 6 will be vetoed. I will report on this in my first post tomorrow.

The Legisalture is convening tomorrow at 10 AM and it is going to be a full-day affair. I'll think of a good song that features "Saturday" in the title. E-mail me any suggestions.

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