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Monkey business

Posted at 12:56 PM on March 6, 2008 by Michael Marchio (5 Comments)

Polar bears and gorillas took a lot of heat this afternoon on the House floor, as members debated the capital investments bill for four hours. Even though the $11 million Como Zoo renovations represent only about 1 percent of the $1.06 billion bill, you wouldn't know that from the time they spent on that provision.

The bill passed by a vote of 99 to 34, but will have to be worked over in a conference committee with the Senate before its sent to the governor for approval.

As usual, higher education was the big winner with $136 million headed to the University of Minnesota and $281 million to MnSCU. No MFL implications here, but it is interesting to note how party attitudes towards borrowing seemed to switch from the transportation bill to the capital investments bill. Some speeches sounded like they could have been exchanged, word for word, for the ones that members of the opposite party gave a week ago. Different situations, of course, but still interesting.

Elsewhere, a constitutional amendment that would allow the Legislature to call a special session was approved by the Government Operations, Reform, Technology and Elections Committee. Sponsored by Rep. Lyndon Carlson (DFL- Crystal), HF2554 would allow the majority in both chambers, or just the majority leaders in both chambers to call a special session. If it passes, would be on the ballot in November for voters.

My guess is Gov. Pawlenty won't be too thrilled to see that one, being that special sessions are his prerogative and his alone right now under the constitution. If this one makes it all the way to his desk, its hard to imagine him doing anything but vetoing it, but the bill does raise an important constitutional question.

The majority of the Legislature can be said to represent the elected will of the public every bit as much as the governor does. In some ways, it could be considered more representative, because since Jesse Ventura was elected in 1998, all governors have won office on a plurality - meaning less than 50 percent - not majority of the vote.

If the majority of the public sees the need for a special session, but only the governor is opposed, should lawmakers be able to call one? Or does this open Pandora's Box to an endless number of special sessions?

Let’s hear your opinions, managers!

Comments (5)

Interesting, too, to hear Pawlenty threaten to veto any package that exceeds 825 million dollars (his "cap") when a month ago he proposed a bill with about 960 million dollars in GO bonds, totalling 1.09 billion in bonds (with matching funds, etc.)

Posted by Aaron | March 6, 2008 5:36 PM

It was my impression that the governor does not have the opportunity to veto constitutional amendment bills before they are voted on by the people.

Posted by Trevor | March 7, 2008 8:40 AM

Bonding isn't a constitutional amendment - and he's vetoed a bonding bill before.

Posted by Aaron | March 7, 2008 10:33 AM

Oops - I missed the part you were referring to - this is a good point, I don't think Pawlenty would get a chance to veto it.

Posted by Aaron | March 7, 2008 10:34 AM

I stand corrected. It would bypass Pawlenty completely. Do you guys think such an amendment would be a good idea?

Posted by Michael Marchio | March 7, 2008 11:26 AM