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< Kung-Fu Lawmaking | Main | Power rankings and power managers >

A health care hegemon

Posted at 11:15 AM on March 20, 2008 by Michael Marchio

You know in cartoons, when a little snowball at the top of a mountain begins rolling down and pretty soon its the size of a small planet? Well, SF3099 is kind of like that. Sen. Linda Berglin's health care reform bill has bounded through just about every committee outside of the environmental ones, racking up 141 points all by itself. Sen. Berglin's point total is 345, making that one piece of legislation worth more than a third of her points.

The bill itself would increase affordability and expand MinnesotaCare, the state's health insurance program for low and moderate income families, create a "Heath Insurance Exchange" and puts more money towards preventative care for problems like obesity.

Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller said the Senate would hear the bill after their morning caucus yesterday, but decided to hold off. Officially, they said they wanted to give the Republicans more time to go over the 75-page bill, but its just as likely they didn't have the votes, or just didn't want to take up such a massive piece of legislation right before their Easter break.

A couple other items of note from yesterday - HF3807, Rep. Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park)'s bill extending whistleblower protection to employees in the executive branch, passed the Governmental Operations, Reform, Technology and Elections Committee. According to the Session Daily it would prevent members of the executive branch from punishing employees for:

• reporting violations of federal or state laws;
• participating in an investigation or hearing;
• refusing to participate in actions that violate the law;
• reporting the true findings of a scientific or technical study; and
• communicating to legislators or elected officials information that the employee believes would relate to improving services provided by the executive branch.

With the accusations of ethical lapses and suspensions inside the Attorney General's office lately , this bill seems like one to keep an eye on. It's next stop is the House floor.

Rep. Ann Lenczewski (DFL-Bloomington) took the first stab at that $935 million budget deficit yesterday, with HF4103, her proposal to eliminate all corporate tax breaks in the state. Needless to say, T-Paw was not pleased about this one.

In total, the bill would bring in about $100 million in revenue through cutting all the breaks, including the JOBZ program, but would also lower the tax rate on corporate franchises by 1 percent and end the alternative minimum tax.

The committee took no action on it, and we'll probably see another hearing on that one after lawmakers come back from break.

Check afternoon, I'll be posting again about some of the strongest team and individual lawmaker performances thus far in the MFL.