Monday, January 12, 2009

Back to Work. The weekend's over and it's back to work for the feisty lads and lasses who comprise the Minnesota State Legislature. It was an extremely quiet day in the state senate, where the floor session lasted all of ten minutes. A grand total of 26 bills were introduced in the Senate, a surprisingly low number for the opening days of any legislative session. I guess it's amazing what a $5.2 billion revenue shortfall can do to stem the flow of spending proposals.

On the other hand, the House floor session (its first working session of the year) turned out to be quite the display of partisan theater as the Joint Rules were discussed. For those of you who don't follow the legislative process that closely, it may sound like a debate over the rules is about as exciting as a bunch of Lutheran church basement ladies swapping recipes involving the magic ingredient of cream of mushroom soup and while the annual debate over the rules usually involve phrases that have been dusted off each year since 1858, the debate never seems to disappoint. The majority is always cruel and the minority consistently aggrieved and never the twain shall meet.

Today was no different as the Republican minority came forward with a raft of amendments that aimed to make the DFL majority look authoritarian, arbitrary, and profligate. The DFL responded that the Republicans were simply being obstructionist. It's funny, but I swear I heard the same arguments three years ago when the roles were reversed and the Republicans controlled the House. In the end, today's debate won't have much of an effect, if any, on the final results of the session. Still, it's nice to know that the state's fiscal collapse hasn't totally caused total atrophy in the two parties' political muscles.

Bill Introductions.


HF 40--Peterson, S.--Quality Rating System for Early Childhood Programs:

HF 49--Morgan--Modifies Alternative Teacher Pay Calculation for Intermediate Districts:

HF 75--Brown--Increase in pupil weighting for all-day, every-day Kindergarten:

HF 79--Brown--Removes wind energy production tax from county apportionment deduction for school districts:

HF 91--Slocum--Allows health and safety revenue to be used for elevator repair:

Last Charter School Working Group Meeting. Today was the last meeting of the Senate/House Working Group on charter school funding and policy. The discussion today centered around charter school facilities policy, especially as it pertains to lease aid and its uses.
The task force will be assembling its recommendations for introduction as a bill in the next few weeks. The Minnesota Department of Education will also be developing changes to current charter school policy, some of which will echo concerns expressed in the Legislative Auditor's report on charter schools.

Movie Review. My wife and I manage to catch a movie pretty much every weekend and I've decided to share my wide range of cinematic tastes with all of you. Last weekend, we were in the mood for something light and so instead of seeing the critically-hailed Gran Torino, we opted for (brace yourselves) Bride Wars. Calling this a chick flick is akin to calling Wilt Chamberlain (for the younger set: tall.
I have to admit, the movie was pretty funny. I had two step daughters get married in the past couple of years and although neither one of those weddings came within a light year of matching the histrionics portrayed in the movie, as anyone who has been even marginally involved in a wedding, there are plenty of opportunities for missteps and hi-jinks.
In brief, this ain't Bergman (as in Ingmar, as Candice Bergman--Oops. I meant Bergen--was in the movie). Besides, it would have been called Brud Krig in Sweden and Bergman would have had the brides play a chess match with Death or something equally depressing. This is simply light fare that succeeds for an hour-and-a-half at getting one's mind off the deplorable condition of the state budget. I give it four atomizers out of a possible five on the Chickflick-o-Meter.

So guys, if you want to let the lady pick the movie for a change, this one's alright in my book. You could do worse than watching Kate Hudson's zany antics and Ann Hathaway's unwavering talent on a chilly Friday night. Be forewarned, there are no car chases or use of semi-automatic weapons.

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