Lawmakers grind out a series of bills first day back at the State Capitol

By T.W. Budig, ECM Capitol reporter

Lawmakers marked their return to the State Capitol Monday, April 16, following spring break by grinding out a series of bills on House and Senate floors.

In the Senate a bill authored by Sen. Ted Lillie, R-Lake Elmo, prohibiting union dues or fees from being taken from state child care payments to child care providers passed the Senate on a 37 to 25 vote.

It’s expected the legislation, identical to House language, will go directly to Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton.

Republicans argued that presently there’s no existing state law preventing state child care payments being siphoned off for payment of union dues and fees.

“This bill protects money meant for our kids and keeps it out of union hands,” said Lillie in a statement.

“Hope springs eternal,” said Senate Health and Human Services Chairman David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, of the odds of the governor signing the bill.

Republicans, gathered off the Senate floor, insisted the governor’s executive order calling for a unionization vote among some child care providers forced legislators to act.

“This was an issue created by the governor,” said Hann.

Child care providers across the state argue the legislation is important, Lillie argued.

But on the Senate floor Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville, said the bill made “no sense,” explaining in part that the recent Ramsey County district court judge’s ruling that the governor had overstepped his authority in calling for the child care provider vote made the issue a moot point.

Dayton Administration spokeswoman Katharine Tinucci indicated that she had not yet spoken to the governor about the Republican bill.

She added that the governor’s original executive order included language prohibiting the taking of union dues out of state child care payments.

In other Senate action a $17 million trunk highway fund appropriations bonding bill was passed containing about $6 million for a Plymouth Department of Transportation (MnDOT)  truck station and about $3 million for a MnDOT truck station in Cambridge.

Tuesday, April 17, the Senate Ethics Committee is expected to meet to continue a probable cause hearing relating to an ethics complaint filled against Sen. Geoff Michel, R-Edina, by Sen. Sandra Pappas, DFL-St. Paul.

Pappas’ complaint deals with Michel’s handling of the Senate sex scandal last year.

Rep. Mike LeMieur, R-Little Falls, saw his bill dealing with liquor sales and possible state government shutdowns fall short by a vote in the House Monday. (Photo by T.W. Budig)

In the House, a bill authored by Rep. Mike LeMieur, R-Little Falls, that would allow the holder of an on-sale or off-sale license to purchase alcohol with only their license if the state is not able to issue a card, fell just short of passage.

It generated considerable debate.

Instead of responsibly addressing budgetary issues, Democrats argued, Republicans continue to take steps to keep state government running without budget agreements.

House Minority Leader Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, styled LeMieur’s bill “one small step” in that direction.

But Rep. Joe McDonald, R-Delano, said on the House floor that the only person in state government that has the power to shutdown the government is the governor.

“That’s all they (Democrats) want to do is raise taxes,” said McDonald.

McDonald also criticized Dayton for keeping the state budget reserves in their accounts “to collect dust” instead of agreeing to the Republican school shift buy-back legislation — the governor recently vetoed the buy-back bill.

Democrats, such as Rep. Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley, challenged McDonald on his assertion that only governors can cause state government shutdowns.

Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, held aloft of a copy of the state constitution and suggested some lawmakers study it.

This evening the second House hearing on the Vikings’ stadium bill is expected to take place in the House Government Operations and Elections Committee.

Committee Chairwoman Joyce Peppin, R-Rogers, indicated this afternoon that she expected a roll call vote to place on the stadium bill — it passed its first House committee test on a voice vote.

Peppin indicated she will propose an amendment in committee striking language in the bill that removes the necessity for the City of Minneapolis to hold a referendum on the stadium proposal.

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak has argued that because the city has no direct control over the direction of the city taxes proposed as stadium funding sources — that’s the state role, not the city, the mayor has argued — a local referendum isn’t needed.