Posted at 9:40 AM on May 8, 2007 by Bob Collins (3 Comments)
Among my more mundane tasks, which is why I usually do it at home while eating the morning bowl of oatmeal (is there anything more mundane than oatmeal), is updating the MPR Votetracker application.
It's mostly a manual exercise, pouring through dozens of pages of the Senate or House journal, looking for votes and recording them (assuming they meet a standard of interest). This year I changed things a little bit and in tracking issues, I tracked particular amendments to omnibus bills.
Case in point, the transportation policy omnibus bill that was before the Senate Committee of the Whole yesterday contained the provision (bill) that makes the failure to use seat belts a "primary offense." In other words, the cops can pull you over for not wearing one. Sen. David Tomassoni, I believe, tried to amend it out. So, in Votetracker, in tracking this "issue," I'm not necessarily tracking the bill, but the provision. Tracking the eventual vote on the omnibus bill wouldn't be entirely accurate in reflecting how the legislator considered this particular issue.
I've been doing Votetracker now for three years. I don't know yet if it's real helpful to folks, although when we create the campaign site, there'll be a more complete record of a lawmaker's general philosophy (by votes) that a voter can easily find.
Tidbits: The smoking ban conference committee today considered an issue Mike Mulcahy and I have been talking about -- how does the medical marijuana bill coincide with the smoking ban? If the medical marijuana bill passes (ignore for now that Pawlenty will veto it) and you're in a nursing home and you "require" medical marijuana, can you smoke it if the smoking ban passes. The smoking ban would eliminate smoking in nursing homes. The conferees considered what is "smoking." Sen. Kathy Sheran suggested they "stay silent" on the issue for now. Rep. Tom Huntley said the smoking ban trumps the marijuana bill.
My major complaint about Votetracker is that it only works for checking 'hot button' issues like legislation on abortion and medical marijuana, and not bread and butter issues that might have an impact on the daily lives of thousands of Minnesotans engaged in the state's major industry, known as agriculture.
Posted by Nancy G | May 8, 2007 11:27 AM
Thanks, Nancy. If you've got specific pieces of legislation (I can't track the overall ag & vet affairs omnibus bill, combining the two broad areas just strikes me as dumb), send it along and I'll be happy to provide it.
Posted by Bob Collins | May 8, 2007 12:36 PM
I would say grits is more mundane than oatmeal, but then I like grits but not oatmeal . . . :?
Posted by Doug Gray | May 8, 2007 3:56 PM