Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Interesting Monday.  We've reached the stage of the session that I like to describe as "putting bolts in a blender."  Lots of noise and you don't know if you'll ever get to the puree stage.  Things are coming together, but the pace is a lot more deliberate than two weeks ago when there appeared to be a mad dash toward the finish and there's no question we will be back after the traditional break for the spring religious holidays that will start this Friday.

Monday's legislative day ended with the passage of HF 2180 (E. Murphy), the health insurance bill promoted by Education Minnesota in the House or Representatives.  The final vote was 76-57 with four Republicans (Representatives Davids, Gunther, Hamilton, and Urdahl) joining the entire DFL caucus in passing the bill.  The debate on the bill was curious.  Republicans offered nine amendments, but withdrew five of them before a vote could be taken.  As many of you know, I've been around here a long time and I've never seen that type of strategy (if it can indeed be called a strategy) used during floor deliberations on a bill.  Usually, the minority will offer amendments and attempt to catch members in what may be considered "bad" votes.  Whether or not the votes on these amendments could be considered suitably "bad" enough to be used in campaigns probably dictated the Republicans' actions (or lack thereof) on the matter, but I still found it interesting.  There were some spirited speeches against the bills after all the amendments had been disposed off, mostly against the bill, but it was pretty clear the bill was going to pass.  The one amendment that was approved was offered by Representative Sondra Erickson (R-Princeton).  This amendment requires that school districts use the sealed-bid process for all of their bargaining units, not just those covered in the teachers' contract.

There was an expressed intention for the House to vote on HF 826--the Safe and Supportive Schools Act--last evening, but the House decided to adjourn for the evening around 10 PM.  The debate on the House's concurrence with the Senate's amendments would have likely gone on into the wee hours of the morning and after the fairly contentious debate on a couple of labor-related bills yesterday,  So, look forward to witnessing that debate today.

The Senate has put together its omnibus tax bill and its omnibus supplemental appropriations bill and it is expected that those bills will pass off the floor prior to the break.  That should set up the conference committee process on those major bills when the Legislature returns after its break.

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