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House finishes first, for once

Posted at 4:24 PM on April 30, 2008 by Michael Marchio

Both chambers had a busy day today. In fact, the Senate isn't even done. It's recessed to attend something called the I-90 dinner. The indefatigable Sen. Ann Rest's committee will be meeting during the dinner anyway, she said as the Senate went to recess. That's how you get to be number one in the power rankings, folks.

Over in the House, they gave approval to a number of bills. One of the most interesting ones, sponsored by Rep. Bill Hilty, HF995, is a resolution urging the governor to come up with a response plan for "Peak Oil". That's the term used to describe when half the world's oil supply has been used up, and that the remaining half will both be in harder-to-reach places and be consumed quicker than the first half because of the world's increasing industrialization. The Commish has read a little bit about it, and it seems like a lot of people, Rep. Hilty included, are pretty worried about what that will do to our economy if we aren't prepared for it.

When introducing it, Rep. Hilty offered an amendment changing statistics in the bill that, unfortunately, he said, are even worse today than when it was drafted a year ago.

Minority Leader Marty Seifert, as he did with the Cuba resolution, raised the point that these resolutions are a waste of time because they don't actually do anything, and that they'd be better off dropping it in the governor's office than passing it on the floor. It did pass, by a 81-7 vote, with many members abstaining.

The House also passed HF4055, carried by Rep. Shelley Madore, a bill that would require the Department of Transportation to come up with a system for getting information to small business owners about construction projects that may impact their businesses.

Over in the Senate, Sen. Dick Day asked a question that is on a lot of people's minds. What exactly is going on with the I-35W bridge victims relief bill? Sen. Ron Latz said that the House has had the gavel for three weeks, and hasn't called any meetings. Hmmm, this seems like one they'd want to get finished before the session ends. If what Sen. Latz said is correct, then Rep. Winkler better get to banging that gavel. As of now, we only have another 19 days left until session must adjourn, barring a special session.

As I mentioned at the top, Sen. Pogemiller asked the Senate to declare "urgency" so they could suspend rules and take up some of the omnibus bills that are waiting to be heard on the floor. It sounds like he wants these things to get to conference committee before weeks end. Minority Leader David Senjem and others said they didn't see what the hurry was about, but hey, the sooner the better as far as the MFL is concerned. Lets see those points come in.

Usually the House is the chamber that gets bogged down in procedural, points of order questions of germaneness that keep them late, but they had relative smooth sailing compared to the Senate today, which just kind of clunked along. There was some heated DFL infighting in the Senate between Sen. Satveer Chaudary and Sen. Don Betzold about Sen. Chaudary's amendment that would allow private landholders in a the Carlos Avery and Lamprey Pass Wildlife Management Area to sell their land to the DNR. Sen. Betzold and other members were concerned that this would hurt property tax revenues, and that exceptions shouldn't be made for particular areas. Some members suggested that Sen. Chaudary even (the horror) manipulated the committee process to make sure that this part was included in the bill. Regardless, Sen. Betzold successfully stripped that out of the amendment.

Sen. Rest, who was president pro tem for Sen. Metzen actually had to remind members to "use the manners your mothers gave you" when on the Senate floor. We'll see if everyone has calmed down after their dinner.