Democrats delay final bills as budget talks continueby Tom Scheck, Minnesota Public Radio,
Martiga Lohn, Associated Press
The governor and DFL leaders met behind closed doors again this morning to discuss the best way to erase the state's $935 million projected budget deficit.
St. Paul, Minn. — Gov. Pawlenty said he asked lawmakers to hold off on debating four budget-related bills.
The Legislature was preparing to send the governor a spending bill, a tax bill, a health care reform bill and an education finance bill.
The governor has threatened to veto all of those bills, and suggested there would be a clear breakdown in negotiations if the Legislature moves ahead.
"Once they bring them to the floor and vote on it, that would be a signal that they're going a different route," said Pawlenty.
DFL House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher said lawmakers will delay the bills, but may choose to move forward with their initial plans later.
The main sticking points in budget negotiations include the best way to cap property tax increases, and which programs to cut from the budget.
Lawmakers have one week to go until the constitutional deadline to adjourn.
Both chambers of the Legislature processed smaller bills in floor sessions expected to stretch into the wee hours.
The Senate unanimously approved a canine-oriented bill allowing dogs to accompany their owners to outdoor dining areas if local cities approve and imposing new restrictions on dog ownership for people who have used animals in violent crimes or had pets involved in vicious attacks.
The dine-with-your-dog measure got roughed up a bit in the House before passing by a wide margin. Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Delano, said it raises sanitation concerns, especially if the dogs try to lick patrons' plates or soil the patio.
"Are they going to come in with a pooper scooper next to my table?" Emmer asked.
It would be up to the restaurant to clean up dog waste immediately.
The House voted 91-43 for a constitutional amendment asking voters to approve a citizens council to set legislative salaries and daily expense payments.
Republicans protested bitterly, saying it was a ploy to give lawmakers a raise without having to vote on it directly.
Rep. Kent Eken, the bill's DFL sponsor, said legislators shouldn't be in charge of their own pay.
Tougher regulations for pool drains won unanimous approval in the House, in a bill named after Abigail Taylor, the Edina girl who died after being injured in a pool last summer.
It now heads back to the Senate, which gave its version unanimous support last month.