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< Background checks for Coach | Main | Floor-a-palooza at Noon >


First sighting of an abortion amendment

Posted at 1:50 PM on April 1, 2008 by Michael Marchio

Well, we knew it was only a matter of time. The first abortion amendment of the session was proposed this afternoon on the House floor, as members debated HF3220, a bill that would allow local governments to make grants to nonprofit organizations.

Right now, according to Rep. Jim Davnie (DFL-Minneapolis), the bill's sponsor, local governments can make donations to charities that serve a public purpose, but which level of government can give to what charity is complicated. His bill, he said would simplify who can give what. The way the bill is drawn up, the grant would have to go towards providing an "educational, social service, health or other charitable purpose."

Here's how Rep. Paul Kohls (R-Victoria) framed it:

"What your bill does is, it says that cities and other political subdivisions can do what the state has been doing for a long time, which is give money, give taxpayer money, to the nonprofit of its choice."

Two important amendments were offered. The first, by Rep. Mark Buesgens, would prevent any grants or money from going to charities with a direct or indirect involvement in political activity or with a political party.

Rep. Davnie pointed out that under the IRS rules, the charities described in the bill couldn't be "action organizations." That means "it may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities and it may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates."

Sounds more or less like what Rep. Buesgens amendment was addressing was already covered by this provision, although indirect political activity is pretty open to interpretation.

A vote was taken on the amendment, and while it failed 60 to 69, by getting people to vote against what seems like an amendment that would prevent political handouts, it might make for some fodder come election time. Check out the votes here.

The abortion amendment, proposed by Minority Leader Marty Seifert, would have banned local governments from providing any grant money for organizations that either provide abortions or are affiliated with organizations that provide abortions. Because of the health provision, this one probably could have applied, but the amendment failed on a very close vote, 64 to 66.

Until now, the social issues have been mostly confined to immigration-related amendments, like banning local government aid from "sanctuary cities." Does this represent a shift in strategy?

The Senate processed a massive number of bills off the General Orders today, meaning they're headed for the Calendar and that MFL managers are going to see a lot of points coming their way probably later this week.

Tomorrow, they should be taking up the bonding bill, and if they do, we're having a floor-a-palooza.

UPDATE: They decided to do the bonding bill this afternoon. I'll be handing out points for it, but we'll be doing another one this week when the Commish finds a nice controversial bill to earn your members some points. I'll keep you posted.