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The House of Representatives Monday night passed its bonding bill 92-37 amid tense last-minute floor wrangling.

House passes bonding bill 92-37

Tony Sertich

Tony Sertich

The state House Monday night passed its bonding bill 92-37 amid tense last-minute floor wrangling.

The House debated the $1 billion bill for more than four hours until House Majority Leader Tony Sertich, DFL-Chisholm, successfully moved to call the question, which ended debate on amendments and brought the bill to third reading and final passage.

Angry protests ensued by Republicans that echoed the end-of-session floor fights that have occurred in previous sessions since the DFL took control of the House in the 2006 elections.

Republicans charged that DFL leaders were halting debate on a flawed bill. As the bill moved toward final passage, House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, DFL-Minneapolis, ruled Republicans’ desperate procedural protests out of order.

“What we just witnessed was the passage of a bill without any opportunity to represent our constituents,” said Rep. Marty Seifert, R-Marshall.

The Senate has already passed a similar bonding bill. Both proposals cost significantly more than Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s proposed bonding bill. Republicans during floor debate warned that Pawlenty could veto the bill that gets sent to him.

Despite the partisan tenor of the floor debate, legislators didn’t always agree with their fellow party members. Indeed, Republican representatives including Jim Abeler of Anoka, Paul Anderson of Starbuck, Greg Davids of Preston, Larry Howes of Walker, Bud Nornes of Fergus Falls and Morrie Lanning of Moorhead voted for the bill.

Some Republicans broke with Pawlenty, who supports $89 million to expand the sex offender program at Moose Lake. Rep. Torrey Westrom, R-Elbow Lake, said lawmakers should consider using the privately-funded prison in Appleton instead.

Fewer DFLers crossed party lines on the final votes than Republicans. But an amendment offered by Rep. Mary Liz Holberg, R-Lakeville, to add local road and bridge funding and greater Minnesota transit funding to the bonding bill, continued the trend this session of Republican proposals grabbing a token amount of Democratic support.

Holberg’s amendment was defeated 76-54 on a mostly party-line vote. But DFLers from outside the Twin Cities metro area Al Doty of Royalton, Jeremy Kalin of North Branch, Kory Kath of Owatonna and Mary Ellen Otremba of Long Prairie supported the transportation money.

The debate at times veered into hot-button election-year issues.

Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Delano, who is a front-runner for the GOP endorsement for governor, offered an amendment to eliminate state climate change goals and railed against the “flawed and fraudulent science” that underpins concerns about global warming.

DFLers pointed out that research distributed by Emmer on the floor was paid for by a coal industry group. Kalin also noted that Emmer’s amendment would be a slight against Minnesota’s renewable energy manufacturing industry.

“If we accept the Emmer amendment we might as well call it the China prosperity amendment,” Kalin said.

Emmer’s amendment failed 88-44.


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