Posted at 5:10 PM on May 9, 2008 by Michael Marchio (1 Comments)
Only one week left in the session, and your lawmakers still have a lot of work left to do. Will there be a mall expansion? How about a state park on Lake Vermilion? Has the Central Corridor left the station for good, or can lawmakers get it back on track? How about Sen. Linda Berglin's health care reform bill? Is that thing ever going to get out of conference?
How about the bills the governor has threatened to veto, like the minimum wage increase, or the omnibus education policy bill? Will the provision in that one making hockey the official state sport be enough to convince the Guv to plug his nose and sign it, despite the sex ed provisions he doesn't like? We'll find out in the next week.
Right now, Gov. Pawlenty is gone fishin', so budget talks are on hold. House Majority Leader Sertich said they've got their lines in the water and they're waiting for a bite from him, but that probably won't happen until Saturday or Sunday at the earliest. Many of those proposals are dependent on whether they get the budget situation resolved. Sadly, there is no MFL prize for landing the budget deal, but we hope that fact doesn't deter lawmakers from getting one done. If not, the governor can balance the budget through unallotment, but that would mean completely cleaning out the state's budget reserves before he can cut spending. There's $65 million in there, and the budget hole is $950 million, so that leaves $300 million in cuts to wherever he chooses. It happened in 2003, it could happen again.
In his press conference, Minority Leader Marty Seifert said there were two impediments to getting a job done, and he wasn't shy about naming them: Sen. Linda Berglin and Sen. Larry Pogemiller. Rep. Seifert said that they haven't been willing to offer the sacrifice any money from $300 million surplus Health Care Access Fund. DFLers argue that the Health Care Access Fund must be used on health care, not to balance the budget.
Here's your weekly update, maybe our last one for the session if things don't go to the May 19 deadline, but before we do that, Rep. Seifert gave us an answer for who would apply the Minnesota Legislature's version of the "Johnson Treatment" that I brought up in our comments yesterday. He said Sen. Steve Murphy spent more time in the House than the Senate yesterday, twisting arms to get votes for the transportation policy bill that went down in flames later that night. The Commish was not in the chamber to see it with his own eyes, but the "Murphy Treatment," seems plausible.
Gold League -
Minnetonka Redress continues to lead here, picking up a tidy 80 points in floor-a-palooza bonus points, but only getting one bill signed. Slow and steady, but they've got a nearly 1,000 point lead so no need to rock the boat there. Bemidji beavers are second, as they've been most season, but Highland Politics bumped off Caucus-o-Raucous for the third spot.
Maroon League -
The But For Test is still first, but All Else Equals is gaining on them, picking up 400 points to the But For's 300 or so. The Ex-Pats took over third from Blue BMW thanks to 300 points in signed bills from the governor, and the MilVets continue their climb upwards, gettign 250 points from signed bills. Keep it up MilVets.
Green League -
id10t has a commanding lead here, no doubt about it. They picked up another 500 points, and only had three bills signed to do it. Healthy Gophers became the first team to earn 1000 points on bill signings alone. That's 20 bills across the governor's desk. Very impressive Healthy Gophers. Victory 08, and Mary Jane Sieben's Healthy Gophers, and the Rump Group round out the top five.
Red League -
Janet Reno's Dance Team holds the top spot here, adding about 600 points to their total. Good By Mady's did better this week though, getting 80 points from floor-a-paloozas and 250 points in bill signatures. Nice job, there. Brod Appeal fell to third, and the rest of the team here held their places. Not much time is left, lets mix it up Red League.
Blue League -
Ah, the Blue League, where competition is king. The top three teams here are all within 500 points of each other. Blue Thunder is #1 right now, but a couple of savvy moves could easily put The Wobblers or The Party Party in their spot. political ninjas and House Call round out the top five, but they're not out of it either.
Purple League -
Liegislicious added 300 to their totals, and so did MN Connections, holding the #1 and #2 spots, but Obamazons beat out Hopemongers for third. Thats change the MFL can believe in. Fighting Mongooses jumped up to the #5 spot, moving Pirate's Booty and Junky Monkey down, but all three teams are within spitting range of each other.
Orange League -
The only movement here was closet policy wonks using 80 floor-a-palooza points and 100 in signatures to win out for 5th from We Play 360. These teams could use some fresh blood off waivers. This will be your last chance to make changes.
Yellow League -
Attack of the DFL picked up 600 points, very nice. Caucusing Fool held 2nd and Volatile Organic Compounds kept 3rd. Civic Civilians moved up from #6 to #5 and the rest here kept their spots.
Brown League -
Ah, here's another 1,000 point team. The Ultraliberal Elite are proving how elite they are, nice job. The Indefatigable Bill Carriers, harry potter rules! round out the top three, and NoNewTaxers are holding the #4 spot they fought hard for.
Black League -
Capital Punishers continue to lead the entire MFL with 5,468 points and another 240 points from floor-a-paloozas. Farmers 4 No Lobby, though, have more signatures, joining the 1,000 club. Congressionistas topped the Walzies near the bottom of this league, but I think that a couple sharp pick-ups could make a difference in this last week of session.
Grey League -
BSU Poliscientists added 400 points this week, which would be extraordinary for most teams but is pretty light for them. Still, it was enough to hold the top spot. Strange Bedfellows and PoliSci 2nd Semester also have done well, holding #2 and #3. There's an opportunity for CyberHouse Players, who only trail by about 30 points, to vault into the top three.
White League -
Finally, some movement here. Hit and Run has beaten Legislate THIS! for #4th place. C'mon teams, I know you can keep up with the big dogs. There's some lonely lawmakers on waivers who could help you out.
Okay, that's it for this week. Next week should be a fun one. Will the session end with compromise, or partisan armaggeddon? I look forward to finding out and hope you do too.
The Omnibus Tax Bill requires conference committee to resolve differences between the House and Senate versions this week.
Rep. Severson introduced an amendment passed by the House on 5/5/08 to exempt retired military pay from state income tax. This is a "grow MN" business initiative designed to attract to the MN “brain trust” second career military veterans.
Rep. Severson's amendment passed in a 75 to 54 vote.
Minnesota is currently not competitive with many other states that offer this tax incentive to military veterans, and loses veterans every year in moves to other states.
Because one family's state tax revenue can be an annual loss of $10K, the loss of 100 military veteran families can have the impact of $1 Million loss in state revenue.
Posted by Nancy | May 12, 2008 2:17 AM