Legislators hoping for quick resolution

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 24, 2001


Thursday, May 24, 2001

Sen. Grace Schwab returned to St. Paul today to keep an eye on the budget discussions over seven large spending packages.

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Schwab, R-Albert Lea, plans to sit in on conference committee hearings (now called &uot;working groups&uot; until the legislature is back in session), especially in K-12 education and health and human services.

&uot;School funding and nursing homes are two issues I’ve worked on all session. I care a great deal about what happens with those bills,&uot; Schwab said.

She hopes Gov. Jesse Ventura will call a special session soon so the legislature can wrap up its work.

&uot;There’s tons of frustration out there, in the public and among legislators,&uot; Schwab said. &uot;We did our work, and now a few people are holding things up.&uot;

Schwab said many of her constituents have called and e-mailed to express confusion at the end-of-session stalemate. Schwab shares their confusion.

&uot;I think it boils down to two parties that believe in their priorities and a governor who waited too long to get involved,&uot; Schwab said. &uot;We all need to take some responsibility. It shouldn’t be about blame at this point.&uot;

Rep. Dan Dorman, R-Albert Lea, said the opportunity for lasting property tax reform is worth the cost and inconvenience of a special session.

&uot;The timing is good because we have a surplus and a tripartisan government,&uot; Dorman said. &uot;But reaching a three-way agreement isn’t easy.&uot;

He hopes the governor will call a special session in the next few days. Waiting will only mean more pressure and last-ditch decisions, he said.

&uot;Our work is done, and we know the issues. Now it’s time for compromise,&uot; Dorman said.

Of local interest, Albert Lea’s proposed business incubator project is still alive, and both legislators are monitoring their respective bills. Schwab’s bill in the Senate appropriates $250,000 for the project, and Dorman’s bill gives $100,000.

They hope the project survives in the conference committee version of the Jobs, Economic Development and Finance omnibus bill.

&uot;That’s one thing we can do while we wait,&uot; Dorman said. &uot;We can monitor the bills that help our districts, and remind our colleagues on the committees how important they are,&uot; Dorman said.

Both Schwab and Dorman think the governor’s idea of pushing the unicameral legislature idea will only complicate matters.

&uot;I haven’t had a chance to look over any of the data on the unicameral proposal,&uot; Schwab said. &uot;I don’t think this is the right time to throw that into the ring again.&uot;

Dorman said he would likely vote against unicameralism, fearing it would cost rural Minnesota too many committee assignments. He also doubts it would speed up the legislative process.

Dorman said Nebraska, the only state with a unicameral legislature, has had almost as many special session as Minnesota over the last 25 years.

&uot;I think the state has been through this before,&uot; Dorman said. &uot;I don’t see it as a significant cost-saver. The governor needs to make a better case to make it fly.&uot;