Posted at 9:46 PM on May 7, 2008 by Michael Marchio
Your lawmakers are earning their paychecks tonight, folks. Both chambers are meeting, possibly until or past midnight.
What are they doing so late? Mostly approving conference committee reports so they can be sent to the governor. I'll give you a full recap tomorrow, but Rep. Torrey Westrom gave the chamber a nice bipartisan belly laugh. Minority Leader Seifert put the House under call shortly after they came back from dinner break, and slowly the big board lit up with green dots - except for one.
Chief Clerk Al Mathiowetz, in his inimitable voice, started calling "Westrom...Westrom...Westrom." That went on for about five minutes, until an exasperated Rep. Westrom showed up in the chamber to applause. He was all the way over in the State Office Building, southwest of the Capitol and connected by a tunnel underground.
When he got there, Speaker Kelliher said "Rep. Westrom, what you don't know is that was Rep. Seifert's Call of the House and he made me a deal that whoever was last couldn't speak for the rest of the night."
Out of breath, he rose on a point of personal privilege and said "Madam Speaker, the hallways are empty and its easy to run."
As MFL members may or may not know, Rep. Westrom uses a cane to walk because he is blind, but the Commish has traveled the tunnel from the SOB to the Capitol, and can say that Rep. Westrom made the trip in what would be record time for anyone. For anyone doesn't think lawmakers work hard, Rep. Westrom is risking life and limb to prove otherwise.
I'll get you the audio tomorrow, its a real treat.
Remember that bill I wrote about earlier this year that would have allowed more powder in certain kinds of fireworks? It never got a hearing, but Rep. Tom Hackbarth (R-Cedar) tried to insert it into the omnibus public safety bill, during conference and then tonight on the House floor. It wasn't adopted, but it seemed to the Commish it was more lawmaker confusion than opposition that stopped it. It sounds like adding gunpowder would make it more dangerous, but in actuality it only would make a 3 minute firework last longer, like 5 minutes, which isn't inherently any more dangerous, and could be less dangerous if it means people are walking up to light things with less frequency. No MFL points for trying though, sorry Rep. Hackbarth.
Rep. Satveer Chaudhary (DFL-Fridley) is getting crap from Minority Leader Senjem (R-Rochester) over in the Senate. Sen. Dick Day earlier said that either Sen. Chaudhary had to put a tie on, or he would take his off. I though he was joking, and it was just too late for Senators to be laughing, but Sen. Senjem brought it up too. I think Sen. Chaudhary was wearing
some type of Indian formal shirt a Nehru jacket, that, while it didn't have a tie, looked sorta formal, but not to the decorum hawks out there. As the "Upper Chamber" of the Minnesota Legislature, all the men have to wear coats and ties. Female senators seem to have more leeway in what they want to wear. Check out this article from the old school Session Daily from 1991 about this.
Representatives can wear whatever they want, more or less, in the House, and Rep. Cy Thao was wearing his "Prom King" jacket earlier on the House floor, and Rep. Sertich, I believe, said he was proud that they can do that in the "People's chamber".
UPDATE: Rep. Westrom is at 39 minutes into session here, if you want to take a look.