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The return of the Sviggum

Posted at 2:02 PM on March 31, 2008 by Michael Marchio

Former Speaker of the House Steve Sviggum was in front of the Senate Business, Industry and Jobs Committee today, chatting with lawmakers about the Department of Labor and Industry, of which he is the commissioner and up for a confirmation. These confirmations are usually perfunctory, at least if your name isn't Carol Molnau, and Sen. Jim Metzen, the chair of the committee, had some fun with Thomas Johnson, the current head of the Workers Compensation Court of Appeals.

"Does anybody know Thomas Johnson, do we like him?" Metzen asked.
He made his way up to the front of the room and Metzen said "Commissioner Sviggum took all your time, so just tell us that you're doing a good job so we can confirm you."

Good natured ribbing is not something you get a lot of at the Legislature, but you can always count on some from Sen. Metzen. The Commish would like to see more of it.

Some interesting bill introductions:
SF3809, sponsored by Sen. Pat Pariseau, would allow applicants for fishing and hunting licenses to register to vote simultaneously.
HF4140, sponsored by Rep. Mindy Greiling, would put a "None of the above" blank on ballots.
And HF4145 , sponsored by Rep. Karla Bigham, which would exempt motion picture productions from sales tax. (Coen brothers, we're legislating in your direction.)

SF2822, the Good Faith insurance bill, is headed for a conference committee, so people with Sen. Clark and Rep. Atkins on their teams can look forward to more points from that one.

Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller said that tomorrow's session will be devoted to passing some bills that are waiting on General Orders right now, so this should be a hefty week for points in the Senate.

Sen. Pogemiller said that the Senate will probably be taking up the bonding bill on Wednesday and if they do so, we're going to have a floor-a-palooza for it. When we find out for sure, I'll post with a link to stream the coverage if you want to cheer your lawmakers on.

The big question I have is whether the Governor has something up his sleeve on buying the land for a state park on Lake Vermilion from U.S. Steel. Speaker Kelliher said in a press conference last week that she's supportive of buying the land in a "responsible way" this session, and added "They're not making any more lake shore like Lake Vermilion."

Its clear that the Governor wants this to happen, and there has been talk of the him viewing the project as his "legacy", kind of like the light rail was for Gov. Ventura. But if the Senate is going to hear the overall bonding bill on Wednesday, that clock is ticking, and the bill, at $925 million, is already $100 million higher than the Governor wants, not including the estimated $40 million for the park land. We'll see what happens.