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< Floor-a-palooza liveblog: Part 4 | Main | DFL leaders on Midday >

Floor-a-palooza recap

Posted at 11:40 AM on April 4, 2008 by Michael Marchio

Let it never be said that your lawmakers don't work hard. Last night, the House was in session until about 2:30 in the morning hearing the omnibus finance bill, HF1812.

The last amendment, offered by Rep. Joe Atkins, is worth taking a look at.

.................... moves to amend H. F. No. 1812, the third engrossment, as amended by
the Atkins amendment (H1812A134), as follows:
Page 254, restore section 38
Page 254, before line 11, insert
"EFFECTIVE DATE.This section is effective immediately following passage
by the house of representatives."

So what does that mean? Here's what Rep. Atkins said:

"14 and a half hours ago I offered a successful amendment. It took out the 4 a.m. bar close. In the meantime, I've rethought that and I'm offering to restore that language and make it effective immediately upon passage of the House of Representatives. Does anybody know a bar that will open in the next 20 minutes? Ahhh, nevermind, I guess I'll just withdraw the amendment."

A stack of amendments, waiting to be heard

So what do we take away from all this? Well, one, the Commish couldn't have picked a better day to do a floor-a-palooza. About 75 members spoke on the floor, a record for floor-a-palooza, and the source of a good many points for your teams.

Another thing, there is no such thing as germaneness in a bill as big, and wide-reaching as the one they heard yesterday. Towards the end of the night, lawmakers didn't even refer to their amendments as amendments, they started calling them bills. I don't really see what better option there was, because if you're trying to balance the budget, you're going to need to tinker with everything. And if you split the whole thing up into separate education, health care, environmental, etc. supplemental budget bills, you could just be setting the stage for multiple marathon sessions like we heard yesterday. Might as well roll them all into one.

Still, the germaneness argument was used quite a bit by the majority, and when the Speaker ruled in favor of the majority, it set up a vote on her ruling that slowed things down quite a bit and probably had a lot to do with why the session lasted as long as it did.

Though it didn't change the outcome - the only significant amendment I can think of that made it through was one that would allow heated smoking shacks at bars - it was probably a good strategy for the minority to hammer away at the fact that the majority was using a procedural technique to avoid a vote on controversial issues, like the Deadly Force bill and another one on abortion.

One other point I'd like to make. When we watch the streaming coverage online or on television, we barely see anything other than the one lawmaker the camera is focused on, but when you're in the chamber you see dozens of staffers milling about, handing out amendments and serving as vast reservoirs of policy knowledge on changes proposed to the bill. I was glad to see Rep. Sertich give those people some credit at the end of the night, because while they may not be voting, the work of these people is every bit as critical to making sure the gears of government are churning smoothly. And they still had work to do when the session was finally adjourned.

I'll be entering your floor-a-palooza points for the day, along with the points from those 100 bills that the Senate managed to pass in addition to the finance bill. Did anyone else have any thoughts on what went down yesterday?