Saturday, July 02, 2005 

History Repeats Itself

Another day, another session, another attempt by the DFL to pass a lights-on bill, and another obstruction by the Republican majority in the House.

The legislators will be back on Tuesday.


Medicine & Torture

While mostly outside the scope of this blog, this article, penned by George H.W. Bush's former presidential physician, is a great read. Highly recommended.

Via TPM.

Friday, July 01, 2005 

Shutdown Liveblogging

5:21: The House has come to order, and Rep. Sertich is moving for a suspension of the rules to pass HF99, another lights-on bill. This one is a one-month bill, keeping the government functioning until July 31st.

5:26: Roll call vote after no Republican debate. Suspension fails 63-60 (90 votes required). Republicans still not allowing a lights-on bill to pass. Republicans still keeping the government shut down.

5:35: Rep. Paulson moves that when the House adjourn, it adjourn until tomorrow at 9 AM. Motion fails on a voice vote! A division is requested, and the motion prevails.

5:36: Rep. Paulson moves for the House to adjourn. The motion prevails on a voice vote, and the House adjourns.



House is now set to reconvene, at the call of the chair, at about 5 PM. The Senate's in recess, but I have no information on when they're set to come back.

Makes one wonder what's going on behind the scenes. A deal being brokered? We can only hope.


Sticking it to the GOP

That's right...we can't let them get away with this.

Regardless of which party you think is responsible for the logjam (and I think that while the Republicans bear most of it, the DFL isn't blameless either), last night's events really can't be spun. The Republicans had a black-and-white choice: vote to keep the state going or vote to shut it down. They chose the latter. And they must be called to task for that vote.


Sleeping In

Sleep in a little bit, and the world moves underneath you.

The government has shut down, as has been covered extensively right here. Unfortunately, the media coverage hasn't gone the DFL's way as much as it might have. As far as I can tell, nothing of serious consequence has happened this morning. The House reconvenes at 3 PM, no information on the Senate. Norwegianity has a couple of interesting tidbits.

Supreme Court Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor is resigning.

The House Ethics Committee (US, not MN) will be starting its work again. (Via Kos)

More on the shutdown as it comes.

Thursday, June 30, 2005 

Midnight Shutdown Wrap-Up

Well, it finally happened. After weeks of a special session, after numerous DFL budget proposals and fewer and less-reasonable GOP offers, the State of Minnesota is in a partial shutdown this morning, with many but not all agencies still running due to either an "essential" designation or previously passed spending bills.

There was nothing particularly earthshaking tonight, except for the rather courageous actions of Reps. Olson and Dorman in voting for a while with the DFL, enabling them to remain in session for a while longer.

Full wrap-up tomorrow. For now, it's enough to say that the Republicans failed to approve a bill that would have kept Minnesota running for a while longer. They had the chance to keep the lights on, and they passed it by. Willfully, intentionally. Democrats did their best, but they're in the minority. There can be no question: Gov. Pawlenty and Speaker Sviggum have shut down the government of the State of Minnesota.


Liveblogging #3

12:28 AM: This is getting a little confusing for one not acquainted with House rules. Hold on.

12:35 AM: Rep. Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park) is saying that either "the buck stops at your desk" for all members, or it stops at Speaker Sviggum's desk. Hear hear!

12:35 AM: Rep. Tom Emmer is saying "YOU didn't get the job done," referring to Hortman, the DFLers, and in particular the DFL House freshmen. Rep. Emmer would do well to remember that he is in the member of the majority, and that Rep. Hortman is in the minority, in the House and overall.

12:39: A vote is being taken on a suspension of the rules for HCR06. The motion to suspend has failed 63 (ayes) - 70 (nays).

12:41: Rep. Hackbarth has moved to adjourn. The motion has failed 66 (ayes) - 68 (nays).

12:43: Rep. Sertich has moved for a "Call of the House." There are a couple of GOP absentees, and there's a weird roll call procedural problem. There is a member (Rep. Meslow, R-White Bear Lake) who is excused. I didn't understand this one.

12:50: Rep. Sertich has moved for a suspension of the rules to allow HR112 to come to a vote. HR112 has no entry online, so I'm not sure what it is. And I'm hearing that Reps. Dorman and Olson were the ones who were coming over to vote with the DFL.

12:57: Rep. Knoblach doesn't want this to come to a vote, as it's his bill, and he is asking Rep. Sertich to withdraw his motion. Rep. Entenza says no, and he wants to pass it now.

1:09: They're still debating on the motion to suspend. It's a snoozer. By the way, if you want to be watching this (and not need this blog) go here.

1:13: Wow. Tempers are starting to rise here, especially on the Republican side of the aisle.

1:16: HF112, by the way, is another lights-on bill. A shorter one, I believe. Roll call vote for suspension fails 73-60 (remember, a 2/3rds supermajority is required, which equals 90 votes)!

1:19: The Call of the House was just lifted on Rep. Paulson's motion, and Paulson successfully (voice vote both) moved to adjourn the House. It will reconvene at 9 AM tomorrow.

Wrap-up post coming momentarily.


Liveblogging #2

"Who to blame? I have no idea." - Rep. Jim Abeler (R-Anoka).

It occurs that the media coverage of this tomorrow will really show who is interested in what. There certainly can be an untruthful way to cover this, saying that it's still the Democrats' fault because the bill wasn't good enough, it was too little too late, all kinds of things. The correct way to cover this is to say that the DFL tried to keep the lights on.

"I think the damage done to schools under this proposal is worse than government shutdown!" - Rep. Mark Olson (R-Big Lake). Certainly a fine thing to say with 30 minutes left.

Rep. Davids (R-Preston) just made a joke on MLK's "I Have a Dream" speech. Rep. Sertich called him out on joking around fifteen minutes before a shutdown. And it is. 11:45 PM.

Are they filibustering? With 10 minutes left and not even a vote on the rules suspension, this may not pass even if they stop talking at this instant.

According to Rep. Seifert, it's now entirely the Senate's fault that we're shutting down! With 5 minutes left! It's all the urban liberals' fault! And Seifert's still talking with 3 minutes left. They've filibustered the bill.

11:59: Roll call vote! Suspension of the rules fails 67-67 (2/3rds, 90 votes, being required) finishing after midnight. The Republican Party of Minnesota, controlling the Governor's office and the House of Representatives, has succeeded in shutting down Minnesota state government. Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Speaker of the House Steve Sviggum are responsible for the first budget-related shutdown of government in Minnesota history.

12:03 AM: Rep. Paulsen moves to adjourn, and the DFL requests a roll call vote. Vote FAILS 67-67!

12:05 AM: The House cannot do anything but adjourn at this point, since the legislative day is over. They're trying to pull a rules move to pass Rep. Knoblach's bill for a one-week lights-on bill. The rules-related motion by Rep. Sertich, whatever it is, has failed 67-67. There's a Republican voting with the DFL on these things, but I'm not sure who it is.

12:12: Rep. Kelliher (DFL-Minneapolis) has proposed to continue the day. Rep. Seifert just stood up and said something to the effect of "Are we going to leave like the Governor, or run away like the Senate?", and was admonished by Speaker Sviggum. A roll call vote is being taken to determine whether the day will continue. I'd try to pick out the Republican voting with the DFL on this, but the image quality on the webcast is so bad that you can't distinguish individual names.

12:22: The board is being held open, presumably to try to convince the Republican voting with the DFL to change his or her vote.

12:25: The board is being closed. The motion has passed 68-66!!

12:26: This is apparently uncharted waters for the MN House.

New Post.


Final Hours - Liveblogging #1

The House just had a very close vote on the time to reconvene tomorrow (9 AM tomorrow).

The DFL is about to try to suspend the rules to pass SF 65, the lights-on bill. Rep. Tony Sertich (DFL-Chisolm) is telling legislators why they should pass the bill despite the reasons not to. And the reason is, according to him, simple: 10,000 Minnesotans not knowing whether they'll have jobs tomorrow. He's telling the story of an 18-year old who won't be able to get a driver's license tomorrow, and a recent SCSU grad who won't be able to get her teaching paperwork done if Minnesota's government shuts down. A good start.

Reps. Sykora and Demmer, both Republicans, are urging their colleagues to "think of the children," Sykora talking about how badly schools will be hurt. Are they crazy?!
Pawlenty renewed his call for DFLers to agree to one of his "reforms," which include initiative and referendum, a racino, a ban on school-year teacher strikes, a unicameral Legislature and some version of school vouchers that would allow some children to attend private schools with taxpayer money. Source: Star Tribune, 6/30/05
The hypocrisy is unbelievable. And now Rep. Westrom (R-Elbow Lake) is feigning outrage. Unbelievable.

Somehow the GOP has now turned this into a discussion about professional politicians. I don't understand it. The choice is clear: House Republicans can vote for this lights-on bill and keep the State of Minnesota operating, or they can shut it down. They're talking about the blame game and everything else they can, everything but the issue. It seems clear now that they're going to defeat the suspension of the rules, and they're going to shut down this great state. When you go to work tomorrow (if you're lucky enough, tomorrow, not to work for the State of Minnesota) make sure your friends and colleagues and everyone else know that the Republicans in the Legislature had a chance to do this right. And they failed.

Time for a new post.


E-mail to Rep. Westrom

I just sent this e-mail to Rep. Torrey Westrom, who was just speaking on the House floor about the harm that the lights-on bill will do to education:

Rep. Westrom, I just listened to your floor speech regarding the cut in school funding that SF65, the lights-on bill, would create. And I was struck by an article ( from the Star Tribune today that contains the following passage, emphasis mine:

"Pawlenty renewed his call for DFLers to agree to one of his "reforms," which include initiative and referendum, a racino, a ban on school-year teacher strikes, a unicameral Legislature and some version of school vouchers that would allow some children to attend private schools with taxpayer money."

One of Gov. Pawlenty's demands for a budget was for school vouchers. Now, it's well known that school vouchers are harmful to public schools by sending government funding, which would otherwise go to public schools, to private schools. I would be interested in seeing how you can call the governor's plan, which is also apparently the House's plan, good for education, while calling a lights-on bill bad for education.

Thank you for your time,

- North Star Politics


House Reconvening

The House looks to be about to reconvene, though it's about fourty-five minutes later than they actually should have, which probably indicates something's up. I'll liveblog. Republicans are expected to kill the lights-on bill, which is bad for the state and very unfortunate, but hopefully voters will remember who the real obstructionists were and will punish them come next November.

Liveblogging when the House begins, which should be momentarily. Two hours to shutdown.



The Senate is debating a lights-on bill (SF 65). The House was set to reconvene at 7 PM, but will now be reconvening at 9 PM.

Four hours and fourty minutes until shutdown.


No Racino!

Pawlenty drops Racino plan! Hallelujah! Perhaps some compromise at last!


7 PM

Majority Leader Paulsen just moved for a recess until about 7 PM, and both parties are caucusing in the meantime. Rep. Entenza says that new information is coming from the Governor.


Hogs, Frogs, and Jobs

Watching House debate on the Agriculture, Environment, and Rural Economic Development bill. Pretty broad support for it, and the Senate already passed it, but Rep. Olson (R-Big Lake) has a problem with the fact that the bill may be unconstitutional due to the fact that it has three different subjects contained in it. He's urging a no vote. Wow.

I'll be watching/semi-liveblogging the rest of the day.

Update: Bill passes easily, with just a handful of members opposing.

Update #2: Oops...the rules were suspended easily, rather than the bill being passed. Debate still going on.

Update #3: This debate is getting intense. Rep. Wagenius got up and delivered an emotional speech about the destruction of our environment, and Rep. Hausman delivered an emotional speech of her own. Rep. Seifert, in response to a question from Rep. Rukavina, talked about the DFL's "insatiable appetite" for spending. Rep. Rukavina accused Rep. Seifert of lying on the floor of the MN House.

Update #4: After a bit of a holdup by Rep. Olson about the bill's constitutionality, the bill (SF 69) passes 93-41. State parks stay open!

Wednesday, June 29, 2005 

Suspending the Rules

Our wonderful Republican friends in the Minnesota House of Representatives today refused to pass/allow to come to a vote a lights-on bill. To be exact, every DFLer and 4 GOPers voted to suspend the rules to allow the bill to come to a floor vote, since it hadn't come through committee. The suspension failed; twenty more members would have had to vote aye. The Senate is expected to pass the bill tomorrow, assuming Sen. Johnson still has control of his caucus.

This will be political suicide for the Republicans. The headlines tomorrow should read "House Republicans vote for shutdown." And that's exactly what it is. I nor any other DFLer is eager for Minnesota's government to shut down, but perhaps for the voters it will be enough so that in the 2007 legislative session we don't have to put up with GOP crap and can encourage our leaders to work on an agenda that ensures a better future for the people of this state. God willing.

House meets at 11 AM, Senate at an early 9 AM.

The Star Trib has an article (published tonight, despite the dateline) detailing recent developments. I was mostly out of the loop this afternoon and evening, so I haven't heard everything.

23 hours and counting.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005 

48 and Counting

The title says it all. House reconvenes at 2 PM, Senate at noon.

Damn, for not paying employees and stuff this shutdown sure will cost a lot.


Hail to the Chief

Inspiration just came in the form of a post over at Clever Peasantry about Gov. Pawlenty getting pissed at Sen. Johnson for doing his duty.

It brought up two ideas:

The first is that this budget business may well silence, or at least quiet, Gov. Pawlenty's humming of 'Hail to the Chief' every morning as he looks into his mirror. His strongly-rumored presidential ambitions might not survive a debacle like this special session/government shutdown is turning out to be. Thank God; a Tim Pawlenty presidency would be very ugly.

The second is simply wondering whether this country could afford to have a commander-in-chief that disrespects his troops the way that the Governor has. Granted, Brigadier General Dean Johnson is no ordinary Guardsman, but the Governor's attitude with a troop that he commands is just unacceptable.

This man can't ever become the commander-in-chief of the United States military; in fact, he can't be allowed to remain the CinC of Minnesota's National Guard.



Amen to that, brother.


Still Hope

A little more movement, after almost none last night. These things take a lot of time to process, so even if a bill were passed at this instant, it might not ensure continuity in government functioning. Speaker Sviggum and Governor Pawlenty have been cold towards a lights-on bill, so we'll see how that goes over.

Less than 56 hours left.

Monday, June 27, 2005 

75 Hours

...and counting. I'm hearing that legislative leaders and the Governor are meeting tonight. Here's hoping that they make some progress, at least.


Supreme Court Tear

The Supreme Court has been on a tear today, releasing a number of high-profile rulings. Among them are a pair of decisions on the display of the Ten Commandments on government property, a decision on the Grokster case, a decision pertaining to journalistic privilege, a decision about cable ISP access to competitors' infrastructure, and a decision on local governments' obligations to protect those shielded by restraining orders.

I'm not going to go into details, as I'm no lawyer and don't know any of the cases well; SCOTUSblog (probably getting more traffic today than ever before) has good coverage that's not impossible to understand. All I can say is that these decisions generally don't sound too good. The court ruled against Grokster, and ruled that cable ISPs don't have to provide competitors access to their infrastructure. The journalistic privilege case establishes that subpoenaed reporters have no protection from being forced to reveal confidential sources. The Ten Commandments cases were split: one ruled that two Kentucky counties' displays were unconstitutional, while the other upheld a display on Capitol grounds in Texas. The final ruling stated that local governments have no obligation to protect from personal violence those with restraining orders against others.

The Grokster decision doesn't seem to be as terrible as some on the internets might think. The problem seems to be in the product's marketing (Hey kids, come steal movies!) rather than the p2p technology itself. In addition, the ruling only allows the case to go to trial, rather than ruling Grokster is actually in violation. The cable ruling, while bad for consumers, doesn't change anything from the status quo. The journalistic privilege case is bad, of course, for the reporters in question (Judith Miller and Matthew Cooper) and anybody who leaks confidential information, but good for the Plame investigation. The protection case would make me feel pretty unsafe if I had a restraining order against someone, but it will save a lot of money for local governments which would otherwise have had to protect anybody with such an order. And finally, the Ten Commandments cases. The Court seems to have done pretty well here. The Ten Commandments have their place, as they really aren't just religious, but are also historical and part of the Judeo-Christian tradition upon which our entire system of law is based. The Court seems to have ruled that the blatantly religious display isn't okay, but the display that is historical/traditional/secular is. Something that most can live with, one hopes.

Sunday, June 26, 2005 

100 Hours and Counting

Less than 100 hours now (94.5, to be exact) until the state shuts down. Apparently, though, there's new movement in St. Paul on cutting a deal. The Star Trib also has an article on the toll the session is taking on legislators, as well as Tim Pawlenty's newest move: trying to lock himself and legislative leaders up at Camp Ripley until they make a deal. I'm hearing that there really is optimism among legislators that a shutdown will be avoided. These people aren't stupid; everyone knows how much a shutdown will hurt them politically.

The House and Senate meet tomorrow: the House at 11 AM, the Senate at noon. We'll see how things go.

Update: I forgot to mention something the first time around. Kudos to the Star Tribune for consistently being a quality newspaper. It isn't perfect, not by a long shot, but it deserves some recognition. It has done pretty well on covering the Bush administration's outrages, and it has done reasonably well (with a few major exceptions) covering the state legislative session. Good job, Strib.

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