Friday, May 14, 2010

I Know There's Nothing Going On. Apologies to Anni-Frid Lyngstad--one of the A's in ABBA--for playing with the song title of her only hit "I Know There's Something Going On," but the play on words seems to accurately describe the nature of the game beneath the Capitol dome as we enter the last seventy-two hours of the 2010 Legislative Session. All work has to be done by 12:00 midnight Sunday evening/Monday morning as bills cannot be passed on the last day of the legislative session in its second year. Add to that, the Legislature has tried to avoid meeting on Sunday (although its happened with greater regularity the past few years) and you can see we're in a severe time crunch.

The Governor vetoed the legislative budget-balancing bill because it contained the tax increases I outlined the other day. The Governor is now on his way to Lake Winnibekabenacmilicagoma (I think that's the one) for the fishing opener. Let's hope he's got five-bar cell phone coverage there, because my guess is he'll be on the phone a bit. The gap right now in the debate springs from the tardiness and uncertainty surrounding the approximately $550 million in federal aid that hasn't showed up in Minnesota yet. That necessitated the inclusion of the tax provisions in the legislative package and, as he has said about 662,987 times before (at least it seems like that many), the Governor simply isn't going to increase state taxes.

That's left everything in limbo and Chubby Checker hasn't hit the dance floor yet. In other words, there's less happening here than at a shuffleboard tournament.

Education Bill Uncertain. Lost in the budget negotiations is the fact that the chances for an education bill look iffy right now. Both the House and Senate have passed education-related bills, but the problem is, none of them are companions. This makes it impossible to set up a traditional conference committee. For something to happen, the Legislature will have to resort to taking a bill currently in possession of one house that was sent from the other house, negotiate an amendment that would serve as a conference committee report and have the same bill then approved by both h0uses in the exact same form. In other words, no amendments. This has been used in the past, but the temptation to amend will be there and hi-jinks can be the order of the day when the opportunity presents itself.

One provision SEE supports and has been watching closely is the House provision that allows school boards to renew expiring referendum levies by board vote instead of having to go back before the voters. If there is no bill, that provision obviously goes to the bone-pile and that would be unfortunate. To avoid this, I would urge all of you to contact your legislators--especially if they are on an education or tax-related committee--and tell them to:
  1. Pass an education bill, and;
  2. Have the final education bill contain the language of Article I, Section 11, of HF 3833 as passed by the House on May 12, 2010.
There is still time for this to happen, so if you are so moved, your involvement would be greatly appreciated.

I'll be back later as things take shape on this and other issues.

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