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Were points just swiped from Rep. Hortman?

Posted at 3:01 PM on May 13, 2008 by Michael Marchio

While the governor meets with House leaders, the Senate has been keeping busy, and passed yet another bill sure to stick in the governor's craw. HF3807, originally Rep. Melissa Hortman's whistleblower protection bill, had its language swapped in the Senate Finance Committee from this in the original bill:

(f) an employee in the executive branch of state government communicates information that the employee, in good faith, believes to be truthful and accurate, and that relates to improving services provided by the executive branch, to: (1) a legislator or an employee in the legislative branch; or (2) an elected official in the executive branch.

To this:

Section 1. NONCOMPLIANCE WITH REAL ID ACT. The commissioner of public safety is prohibited from taking any action to implement or to plan for the implementation by this state of those sections of Public Law 109-13 known as the Real ID Act. EFFECTIVE DATE.This section is effective the day following final enactment.

Somebody call Wesley Snipes, there's been a hijacking!

Actually, Rep. Hortman was nice enough to let the file number from her whistleblower protection bill be used in the Senate as a vehicle for the Real ID prohibition. She's taking a hit in points for this, because there's few things you can be more sure about than Gov. Pawlenty vetoing a stand-alone bill rejecting the federal Real ID program, and she may have had a cool 50 coming her way if the governor signed her whistleblower bill.

So what is this Real ID the Commish speaks of? It was, according to the testimony of many senators on the floor today, inserted as a rider to a bigger bill in the United States House of Representatives at midnight, with no discussion. It would require states to create a new drivers license (again?) that complies with federal security regulations. Sen. Warren Limmer (R-Maple Grove) said that it would cost between $60 and $90 million, and the feds haven't provided the funding to do it.

The pro-Real ID argument was that it would help deal with the illegal immigration problem, and guarantee people are who they say they are when they enter the country.

The vote passed on a 50-16 vote, enough for a veto-override, but the House hasn't passed a version yet.

Fun (well, maybe not fun, but odd) Fact: we've had two omnibus transportation policy bills go through the Legislature this year. The first one HF1351, included a Real ID prohibition, and the governor vetoed it when it hit his desk in April. The second one, HF3800, includes the seat belt primary offense provision and the parental driving rules. This one's was sent back to conference committee after the report was rejected last week on the House floor.

As for Rep. Hortman's whistleblower bill, it's found a home in SF3363, a bill that would require state agencies to share more budget information earlier with the Legislature, instead of giving the governor a head start as current rules have it. There's no way to give points for when one bill is rolled into a bigger one, but whistleblowers across the state will know who to thank for protection if this makes it into law.

Majority Leader Pogemiller said that the Senate will be in recess until after 6:00 p.m. tonight, but look for more action tonight.