The Minnesota House failed to pass a bonding bill that focused on flood relief. Republicans couldn't garner enough support from their DFL colleagues to get the 81 votes needed to pass the bonding bill. It failed 76-57.
Several Democrats complained that the bonding bill didn't spend enough and didn't focus on the needs of the entire state. Rep. Lyndon Carlson, DFL-Crystal, said he's like to see the state borrow more because interest rates are low. He also said it would help the state's construction workers get jobs.
"When we talk about the infrastructure needs, there are a lot of projects that are shovel ready," Carlson said. "If we passed a bonding bill, you could literally, as soon as those bonds are issued, you could put people to work."
Rep. Larry Howes, R-Walker, is the chief author of the bill. He said Democrats are hoping that another bonding bill surfaces in a special session.
"The people who voted no decided either to roll the dice and try it another day and hope for more," Howes said. "I hope it works for them but I don't see it working for them."
Howes says another bonding bill could surface if lawmakers are forced into a special session because they failed to reach a budget agreement with Gov. Dayton. He says he's willing to work on a bonding bill but says it can't be as large as Dayton's proposal.
Dayton has proposed a $1 billion bonding bill in which half of the projects are picked by him and half of the projects are picked by the Legislature.(2 Comments)
Posted at 10:00 AM on May 21, 2011
by Tim Nelson
Filed under: MN Legislature
OutFront Minnesota, one of the state's principal gay rights advocacy groups, is calling for its biggest anti same-sex marriage amendment rally ever today, to coincide with Take Action's "People's Rally for a Fair Minnesota."
That's due to start at 10:30.
OutFront is planning to piggyback, according to an email blast this morning. It says "Join us and our coalition allies TakeAction Minnesota at the Capitol."
More interesting, though, is the fine print at the bottom of the OutFront mail. They're calling on folks from greater Minnesota and the suburbs to contact legislators. But not just any legislators.
Here's OutFront's list:
Albert Lea - Rep. Rich Murray (27A)
Apple Valley - Rep. Tara Mack (37A)
Blaine - Rep. Tim Sanders (51A)
Champlin - Rep. Denise Dittrich (47A)
Eden Prarie - Rep. Jenifer Loon (42B)
Faribault - Rep. Patti Fritz (26B)
Hastings - Rep. Denny McNamara (57B)
Mankato - Rep. Rod Hamilton (22B)
Mound - Rep. Steve Smith (33A)
Saint Cloud - Rep. King Banaian (15B)
Woodbury - Rep. Andrea Kieffer (56B)
The Iron Range - Rep. David Dill (06A)
Are they on the fence? Are these the waverers that Rep. Karen Clark spoke about this week? Hard to say.
We've already talked to some of the folks on this list. Both McNamara and Sanders have previously questioned the timing and priority of the amendment vote in the face of a budget crisis -- although both Sanders and McNamara did say they would vote for the amendment if it comes up.
"I have my concerns," Kieffer said in a brief exchange on the House floor on Friday.
Most of the House members on the list are Republicans, but it also includes three DFLers: Dill, Dittrich and Fritz. That may indicate that a potential vote in the House may have some limited minority support, like it did in the Senate, when DFLer Leroy Stumpf joined the GOP majority and voted to put the measure on the ballot.
The House Rules Committee is scheduled to meet at noon, which may offer some clarity as to whether or not there will be a vote soon. But we know now which floor speeches OutFront will be watching.
Gov. Mark Dayton, Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch and House Speaker Kurt Zellers wait before a joint House and Senate GOP caucus at the Capitol on Thursday. Dayton and the GOP leadership met again Saturday. (MPR Photo/Jeffrey Thompson)
GOP leaders said a morning meeting with Dayton was "disappointing," yet they say they're still optimistic a budget deal will be reached by Monday's deadline.
Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, R-Buffalo, said Republicans were especially disappointed they've received no official feedback on a K-12 funding bill the Legislature approved earlier this week. Republicans are now calling on Dayton to veto that bill quickly so they know what his problems are with the bill.
DFL House Minority Leader Paul Thissen said it should be clear why Dayton doesn't support it.
"The are significant policy differences in those bills," Thissen said. "The governor put out a seven-point plan a long time ago. None of that showed up in the Republican bills. And there are policy in those bills, like vouchers for example, which is inconsistent with where most Minnesotans are on education policy."
Dayton has said he will not allow any of the budget bills to become law until there's an agreement on the entire budget. The Legislature didn't send the bill to Dayton until yesterday, and the constitution gives him three days to decide whether to sign or veto it.
The morning meeting in Dayton's office included GOP leaders, as well as DFL Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk and Thissen.
Thissen said afterward that not much progress was made. He said Dayton offered concessions on his budget proposal on Monday, and that Democrats were waiting for Republicans to act.
"Republicans haven't moved on their position at all," he said.
Deputy Senate Majority Leader Geoff Michel, R-Edina, said Republican leaders will meet with Dayton again mid-afternoon.
"We'll work today, we'll work tomorrow and we'll keep talking with the governor," Michel said.
(MPR reporter Tom Scheck contributed to this report.)(4 Comments)
The Minnesota House voted 74-58 to require voters to show photo ID at the polls.
The Senate already passed the bill, so it will now go to Gov. Mark Dayton.
The House had planned on voting on the measure yesterday, but DFL lawmakers raised questions about whether enough notice was given for a conference committee at which some changes to the bill were made. The bill's sponsor, Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake, withdrew the bill from the floor yesterday and brought it back up today.
Kiffmeyer said all public meeting requirements were met.
"They were given a heads up and information by both the House and the Senate staff," Kiffmeyer said.
DFL members continued to question whether the public was given enough notice that the conference committee was meeting. Kiffmeyer said notice of the meeting was on the House website, and e-mails were sent.
After voting to take up the bill, DFL members listed several problems they see in the proposal, including concerns over whether certain groups of voters would be disenfranchised.
Rep. Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, said she's concerned college students won't have the time or flexibility to follow up with documentation after casting a provisional ballot.
"We all know teenagers, we all know young 20-somethings," she said. "As a practical matter, what this voter ID bill means, unfortunately, is that thousands, maybe tens of thousands of college students, would lost their opportunity to vote."
Republicans said the legislation is needed to improve integrity in the system.
Gov. Dayton has said he does not support the bill and will likely veto it.
Republican lawmakers in the Minnesota House and Senate have introduced legislation that would keep Minnesota state government running if a budget deal is not reached by the start of the fiscal year. Several bills have been introduced over the last few days that are aimed at keeping at least parts of state government running beyond July 1.
"We have contingency plans for floods, we have contingency plans for natural disasters," Sen. John Howe, R-Red Wing, said. "We should have a contingency plan in case there's not a budget resolution."
Howe introduced a bill that identifies what would be considered essential services. It would continue to provide funding for public safety, health care services, child welfare, transportation, tax collections and disaster assistance
Lawmakers have also introduced a so-called "lights on" bill that would fund state agencies at 70 percent of current funding levels. Public safety would be funded at 100 percent of current funding levels.
Rep. Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, says a bill he introduced would also forbid the courts from determining what should be considered an essential state government service. In 2005 during a partial government shutdown, the state courts were forced to step in to determine essential services. Daudt says his bill keeps the courts out of the budget battle between the Legislature and the governor.
"We feel that kind of usurps the ability of the governor and the Legislature to make those decisions," Daudt said of the courts getting involved. "That decision really needs to come out of the Legislature and be signed by the governor."
Democrats argue that Republicans are putting forward "lights on" bills because they can't reach a budget deal with Gov. Dayton. Lawmakers have until midnight Monday to reach a budget deal with the governor. A special session will have to be called if a budget deal is not reached. State government would shut down if a budget is in place by July 1 when the new fiscal year starts.
"It's an admission on their part that they're not going to move," Sen. Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said. "It almost seems like an admission on their part that not only can they get it done by May 23. They can't even get it done by June 30."
Republicans say Dayton and his commissioners have refused to negotiate the particulars of the budget bills they sent him.
The governor's office has not made a commitment to the "lights on" bills.
"The Governor is focused on finding a solution to the budget, and has already offered to meet Republicans halfway," Dayton's spokeswoman Katharine Tinucci said in an email. "We encourage them to join us in seeking compromise and solutions."
Dayton and GOP legislative leaders are at odds over the best way to erase the state's $5 billion projected budget deficit. Dayton is calling for an income tax increase on Minnesota's top earners and an equal amount of spending cuts. Republicans presented a budget to Dayton that erases the deficit entirely through spending cuts. Dayton says he'll veto that budget.
The Minnesota House is preparing to take up the proposed constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriage. Rep. Mary Liz Holberg, R-Lakeville, made a motion this afternoon to put the amendment on the Calendar for the Day. That procedural move means the House can take up the bill at any time.
"It certainly looks that way," GOP House Majority Matt Dean said when asked by MPR News if the amendment was going to be considered tonight. He would not provide any other details.
Supporters and opponents of the amendment have been lining up outside of the House chambers with the hopes of convincing Republicans to not take up the vote. Several Republican members have also urged GOP leader to wait to pass the amendment. They said they would look bad if the House passes the it yet fails to reach a budget agreement with Gov. Dayton. Some of those members, however, say they will vote for the amendment if it comes up.
Democrats say they will use several strategies to try to shelve the amendment for the year. Rep. Karen Clark, DFL-Minneapolis, says they move to send the measure back to committee for further study. She says they'll also try to change the bill in an effort to force the House and Senate to form a conference committee to resolve the differences in the House and Senate versions.
The Senate has already passed the amendment. If the House follows suit, a question would be put on the 2012 ballot asking voters whether marriage should be defined as "between one man and one woman." The State Constitution would be amended if a majority of those voting in the election vote yes.
The state already bans same-sex marriage in law, but supporters of the amendment say putting the language in the Constitution would prevent a judge from overturning the law. Opponents say adopting the amendment would enshrine discrimination in the state's founding document.
Governor Dayton and GOP legislative leaders are still no closer to reaching a budget deal. The two sides held two private meetings on Saturday. But they still disagree on the best way to balance the state's budget.
Republicans have passed a $34 billion budget plan that erases a $5 billion projected budget deficit through spending cuts. Dayton says he will veto that plan. He wants a mix of cuts and higher income taxes on Minnesota's top earners to solve the problem.
Dayton says Republicans haven't moved off of their opposition to new revenue.
"I'm still waiting for them to suggest something on the revenue side," Dayton said. "They keep saying they're committed to the $34 billion budget and are not going to budge from that so we remain $1.8 billion apart."
The governor and lawmakers have until Monday night to finish their work. A special session will be needed if they can't reach a budget deal by then.
Posted at 6:24 PM on May 21, 2011
by Tim Nelson
GOP Rep. Steve Gottwalt introduces the proposed constitutional amendment to limit marriage to one man and one woman, to be put before voters in 2012 general election ballot.
Gottwalt: "This is not about hatred. This is not about discrimination or intolerance. I have faith that we as Minnesotans can have a reasonable discussion."
Karen Clark, the only openly lesbian member of the Legislature, responds: talks about her partner, Jacquelyn, and the state's human rights law. One of my colleagues across the aisle says he knows I love my partner Jacquelyn as much as he loves his wife. It's a tender truth. I have paid my dues, my required share... You will have to face me, and your own constituents. We are offering you a choice to do something different."
Updates will follow in reverse chronological order, below.
10:08 PM After nearly four hours of debate, 20 DFLers have spoken, three Republicans. Only Gottwalt, amendment's sponsor, has stood up to speak for amendment so far.
9:14 PM More personal stories. Jeff Hayden, DFL-Mpls, says his own interracial marriage was once barred by law, urges his colleagues not to raise similar bar for same-sex couples. Carlos Mariani, DFL-St. Paul, says his own brother is openly gay. "I got my butt kicked defending my baby brother" in inner-city Chicago, where there was "immense intolerance."
Midnight Marriage amendment passes 70-62, a mostly party line vote. GOP no votes included John Kriesel, Cottage Grove; Steve Smith, Mound; Tim Kelly, Red Wing; Rich Murray, Albert Lea. DFL yes votes included Denise Dittrich, Champlin, and Lyle Koenen, Clara City.
8:40 PM Michael Paymar, DFL-St. Paul, tells of the anti-semitic sentiment in his Duluth neighborhood growing up. "Do not enshrine discrimination in our constitution."
8:17 PMDFL caucus spokeswoman says Rep. Bobby Joe Champion, DFL-MInneapolis had to leave state for family emergency. Says he and David Dill, DFL-Crane Lake, are both officially excused.
8:06 PMRep. Terry Morrow, DFL-St. Peter, has told House that his great-grandfather was a slave, grandfather identified as a black man, and that his own family had once feared to travel to the South for fear of miscegenation laws, since struck down. Compares them to same-sex marriage ban. DFL Rep. John Ward, with who has a disabled arm, told of being refused every summer job -- even clerical duties -- by his father's railroad. "I have walked in those shoes, faced discrimination."
7:16 Here's the roll call on the re-referral vote:
NO: Abeler; Anderson, B., Anderson D., Anderson P., Anderson S., Banian, Barrett, Beard, Benson M., Bills, Buesgens, Cornish, Crawford, Daudt, Davids, Dean, Dettmer, Doepke, Downey, Drazkowski, Erickson, Fabian, Franson, Garafolo, Gottwalt, Gruenhagen, Gunther, Hackbarth, Hamilton, Hancock, Holberg, Hoppe, Howes, Kelly, Kieffer, Kiel, Kiffmeyer, Lanning, Leidiger, LeMieur, Lohmer, Loon, Mach, Marazol, McDonald, McElfatrick, McFarlane, McNamara, Murdock, Murray, Myhra, Nornes, O'Driscoll, Peppin, Petersen B., Quam, Runbeck, Sanders, Schomacker, Scott, Shimanski, Smith, Stensrud, Swedzinski, Torkelson, Urdahl, Vogel, Wardlow, Westrom, Woodard, Zellers
YES: Anzelc, Atkins, Benson J., Brynaert, Carlson, Clark, Davnie, Dittrich, Eken, Falk, Fritz, Gauthier, Greene, Greiling, Hansen, Hausman, Hayden, Hilstrom, Hilty, Hornstein, Hortman, Hosch, Huntley, Johnson, Kahn, Kath, Knuth, Koenen, Kriesel, Laine,Lenczewski, Lesch, Liebling, Lillie, Loeffler, Mahoney, Mariani, Marquart, Melin, Moran, Morrow, Mullery, Murphy E., Murphy M., Nelson, Norton, Paymar, Pelowski, Persell, Peterson S., Poppe, Rukavina, Scalze, Simon, Slawik, Slocum, Thissen, Tillberry, Wagenius, Ward, Winkler
DID NOT VOTE: Dill, Champion
7:01 House votes down motion for re-referral to judiciary committee 61-71
6:51GOP Rep. Tim Kelly, Red Wing, rises to oppose re-referral, but says he also opposes putting on the ballot "an amendment to remove some personal choices and freedoms from a select few. In my mind, we're starting to talk about prejudice."
6:58Rep. Tim Kelly, R-Red Wing, asks DFLer Murphy to withdraw re-referral, says "I believe people on this side of the aisle will... vote this amendment down."
6:48 Call of the house. DFLer Denise Dittrich, Champlin, speaks in favor, says she's changed her mind since 2005.
6:40 PMDFLer Larry Hosch says he voted to support the measure in 2005. Says he has changed his mind. Asks to re-refer measure.
6:30 PM: Motion on the floor is re-referral to judiciary committee, offered by DFLer Erin Murpy, 64A, of St. Paul. Clark, of Minneapolis, is speaking in support of the motion. This will be a key test vote.