Sunday, May 29, 2005 

Special Session Comments

Over at Minnesota Politics, MN Politics Guru has a great post detailing the breakdown of separation of powers that has appeared during the budget negotiations. It's one example of how this special session is turning into a real mess.

There's also an interesting AP article confirming that there's almost no action going on at the Capitol these days. Except for committee chairs, those on the conference committees, and the folks doing the high-level budget negotiations, there's really very little work to be done. I know the House was in session very little this week, and I'm sure many legislators were mostly catching up on paperwork, email, and the like. The Senate was in a similar situation.

This special session is a bad deal for everybody, as the AP article says, but it's mostly a bad deal for Tim Pawlenty. His grandstanding by immediately calling the special session was a very useless move, and is needlessly costing the state a fair amount of money, something that is absolutely unconscionable at this time. Most of the DFL House freshmen, elected in large part because of the last session's gridlocked result, have pledged to refuse per-diems for the special session, and I'm proud to say that both Rochester DFLers, freshmen Reps. Tina Liebling and Andy Welti, are doing this. Both won close races in 2004, Liebling beating then-freshman Rep. Carla Nelson, and Welti beating veteran then-Transportation Commitee chair Rep. Bill Kuisle, a pair of sore losers who still attend many events as if they remained in office. The point is that Republicans will suffer more for this special session, which has no end in sight, far more than DFLers, just like they did last year. The House is still held by the GOP (if only by a single vote), and the Governor's mansion is still occupied by a Republican, and they have more to lose than the DFL. But the GOP also bears more of the responsibility for this hold-up than the DFL, and smart Dems across the state will make sure the people know. Couple this with big Republican boo-boos on the national stage and a reinvigorated Democratic Party, and I think the Minnesota GOP should be very nervous.

Tim Pawlenty, you're not President Bush. Not by far. While you're not the polarizer that he is, you don't have his skills or his staff, and you can't pull off the same tricks. Don't try. By grandstanding and calling this special session before you had a deal, you exposed yourself and your GOP allies (especially those in the House under Speaker Sviggum, as MNPolitics says) to the heavy fallout of this special session. Good luck in 2006.

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