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Liveblogging Transportation Policy Bill

Posted at 9:57 PM on May 8, 2008 by Michael Marchio (3 Comments)

Well, here it is, what should be the most controversial conference committee report of the session. HF3800 has just been introduced and it is the Commish's humble opinion that the chamber will be splitting in all sorts of interesting ways. Here's how conference committees work:

After each chamber passes their version of the bill, it's sent to the opposite chamber. They can either replace all the language with their own, or make amendments to the other chamber's language. Any differences are resolved in smaller conference committees, with three members of the majority and two from the minority from each chamber. Each member can choose to sign or not sign the final report and it gets sent back to a chamber. It gives it the thumbs up or thumbs down. If its down, they go back to work. If its up, it goes to the other chamber and then the Governor. And with no further adieu, here's the liveblog. Watch here.

9:59 - Rep. Hortman introduced the bill, explained the provisions, and said that what isn't in this bill is as important as what's in it. She's referring to the provision that would require kids to be put in carseats. She wishes it was. They took out the Senate language that would require the head or deputy of MnDot to be an engineer though, a none-too-subtle swipe at Carol Molnau.

10:01 - Rep. Rukavina made his statement quick. He doesn't support it. He hates laws regarding driving. Just hates them.

10:03 - Rep. Tony Cornish, a former cop, is urging members to support it. This is somewhat of a surprise. He's usually pretty libertarian (especially on guns), but he said that his experience as a cop is why he thinks its necessary. He spared us most of the details about the horrors he's seen on the side of the road, but did describe one scene of a person's death from not wearing a seatbelt that seems like it would hang with you. He said people shouldn't be concerned about cops using it as an excuse to pull people over because there are millions of things they can already do for that. He listed some of them.

10:07 - Rep. Willie Dominguez said that he thinks it opens the door to racial profiling. As a Hispanic, he said he's been pulled over because of his race. "Members you can hear the stories, but I live the story each and every day."

10:15 - Rep.Tim Faust said that he thinks its overbearing too, and that it should be sent back to committee.

10:19 - Rep. Lesch says that this could lead to discrimination and asked if what members are doing is really honoring their committment to uphold the constitution. This thing might actually go down, nearly everyone who has spoken is against it, and they've been DFLers. Only Rep. Berns and Rep. Cornish, along with Rep. Thissen who is a sponsor, have spoken for it.

10:25 - Rep. Erhardt just told a couple of people to shut up while he's speaking. Speaker Kelliher said maybe she should use the gavel instead of the language.
"Madam Speaker, they did shut up," Erhardt said.

10:30 - Rep. Erhardt is making the point that the decision on whether to wear a seatbelt isn't only personal ones. The state ends up paying if someone becomes a paraplegic and can't work. Making the cost argument is a good one for his side of the aisle.

10:34 - Rep. Nornes is making a new argument, that the best way to prevent traffic deaths is to enforce the speed limit.

10:35 - Rep. Mark Olson is arguing that if the state requires people to wear seatbelts, the injuries that are sometimes incurred by seatbelts in car crashes, the state might be held responsible.

10:38 - Rep. Lynn Wardlow says he used to teach driver's education, supports it. He asked members to think about how it feels to see a kid with the white bone of their femur sticking out of them. Then to imagine them crying for their mom right before they die.

10:40 - Rep. Seifert is speaking. He says that he's pro-seatbelt. He was almost killed in a car accident and was saved by his seatbelt. He also said his best friend was killed in a car accident and wasn't wearing his seat belt. But he said he's against this bill because the question of seat belts is one of personal choice. He said when he entered the Legislature, this bill would get 19 votes. Now, he says, it passes easily. He says he knows that most hospitals and doctors say that it should be in law, but that most constituents he hears from don't like it. He put the House under call.

10:44 - It's tradition that the minority leader gets the second-to-last chance to speak, and then the bills author gets the last chance, so we're probably close to a verdict here. My guess is this thing passes, but very narrowly, maybe 69 votes to approve the report, 65 against.

10:50 - There are no absent members, so we're dealing with a full 134 lawmakers.

10:52 - Rep. Hortman said that "Its not every day that we get the chance to save lives with a vote on the House floor," and urged members to support the bill.

10:53 - Rep. Scalze is speaking, and she says this shouldn't be heard at 10:30 at night because people are tired, and it should have been brought up earlier.

10:54 - Rep. Rukavina said that he told Rep. Thissen that this law is unnecessary last year because cops can pull you over for any reason, and Rep. Cornish, a cop, just proved his point. He says he feels like the only liberal left because the root word is "liberty." Rep. Rukavina said he thought they "outlawed death" with the smoking ban last year. He said he doesn't like all these excess laws, and pointed to the bill that would let dogs on patios of restaurants. "We let dogs take a leak on your leg and thats okay!"
Someone should compile Rukavina zingers. You could make a mint on that.

11:00 - Rep. Westrom has the floor. "We've lasted a long time in this state letting people make their decisions. When I was in a car accident, if I had had my seatbelt on, I don't remember how it happened, but I would have been charcoaled, because the car started on fire." He told members to send it back to the Senate and tell them they don't know best.

11:05 - And here's the vote, at first the lights were blinking this way and that, from yes to no, with some members switching their votes, but now, they're pretty stable.

11:06 - Upset!!! 72 ayes ayes and 62 nays. The Commish had the numbers almost right, but for the wrong sides. Since 72 voted to reject the measure, it goes back to conference.

Comments (3)

I find it stupifying that people (i.e., Legislators) don't know when or when not a person can be pulled over.

Liberty and Responsibilities is a great argument - but while the state shouldn't be in the position of "protecting me from myself" as Westrom put is - the state ought to be in the position of forcing me to protect my children from me or you.

Someone ought to tell them to turn off their cell phones on the floor of the house.

What is Westrom talking about "one person wouldn't be here, if everyone wore their seat belt and followed the law?"

Posted by GopherMPH | May 8, 2008 11:03 PM

Hey GopherMPH, I'm glad you're watching coverage. Did you see that the Senate just adjourned? I bet they thought that the House would approve the bill and they'd get to vote on it tonight. Not so, Mr. Pogemiller. The vote was pretty close, but I'm surprised that no one pulled an LBJ and started giving lawmakers the Johnson treatment to get their vote.

Is there such a thing as a "Sertich Treatment?" I bet there's an "Emmer Treatment."

And I totally agree about cell phones. They have their laptops to play with (and their MFL rankings to look at) that should be enough for them.

Posted by Michael Marchio | May 8, 2008 11:37 PM

I was doing the laundry, and sat down to watch a movie, turned on the TV, and got caught waiting for the DVD to load, then checking my team's score, etc. etc., then abruptly realized that your posting was the session that I was watching. Very enlightening. Nonetheless, checking the Red Wing's score and my email supplanted the gov't. Oh, well, and now bedtime cuts them all off.


Posted by GopherMPH | May 8, 2008 11:51 PM