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Session ending in a bang (literally)

Posted at 8:42 PM on May 18, 2008 by Michael Marchio

Some Iron Rangers are expressing their anger about the Lake Vermilion State Park, arguing that in an area as economically distressed as theirs, taking more land of the tax rolls won't help.

"The problem is now we have no place to work, all we can do is paddle," said Rep. David Dill (DFL-Crane Lake).

Rep. Tom Rukavina said that he's sick of hearing about the "pristine forests", and that the governor didn't seem to care that much about the Range when he vetoed their other bonding projects, like new science classrooms at Mesabi Range Community and Technical College.

He was interrupted by loud bangs over the top of the Capitol, and Speaker Kelliher told him she thought he was causing fireworks. If anyone could do it, it would be Rep. Rukavina.

"Send these people a message, God," he yelled. Damn the fireworks, full speed ahead.

The best speech, though, probably belongs to Minority Leader Seifert. He said he didn't feel good about the bill, about how it was crafted behind closed doors, over the objections of the lawmakers and the constituents most directly affected. He said he knows they need 81 votes to pass this, and that the governor wants the park, but that members should be able to vote their conscience.

Rep. Seifert has been known to throw a cherry bomb or two of his own on the floor, as any leader must, but in the Commish's opinion, Rep. Seifert sounded downright statesmanlike tonight, and his appeal to lawmakers, while less fiery than Rep. Rukavina's, was even more effective. I'll link to his speech tomorrow.

The bill passed, 107 to 26, and the House has gone to recess until around 9:45. The Senate's debating the omnibus tax bill, and I'll update you when we get a vote on that.

UPDATE: The tax bill has been passed 56-11.