Lawmakers take off for spring recess
by T.W. Budig
ECM Capitol reporter
Lawmakers departed from the Capitol last week for holiday break, with the legislative session resuming on April 2.
Legislative leaders had a few things to say on Friday, March 22, before leaving.
A vote on same-sex marriage legislation is unlikely for April, House Speaker Paul Thissen, DFL-St. Paul, indicated. Dealing with the state budget is likely to consume the entire month, and depending on the strength of the vote count, it’s possible that no same-sex marriage vote will taken this year, Thissen said.
Gun legislation is likely to be approved, Thissen said, though he didn’t venture to guess what the final bill would contain. Some lawmakers have suggested Thissen wants a vote taken on universal background checks. He refined the presumption.
“I think it’s more accurate to say I suspect there will be that vote on full background checks,” he said.
Thissen — who unlike Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, did not receive a phone call from Vice President Joe Biden concerning guns — worked to find a compromise to get a weakened gun bill out the House Public Safety and Finance and Policy Committee and onto the House floor, he said.
“People are looking for workable solutions,” he said.
Senate Deputy Majority Leader Jeff Hayden, DFL-Minneapolis, called gun legislation in the Senate evolving. Sen. Ron Latz’s omnibus gun bill contains an universal background check provision. Hayden, whose legislative district knows gun violence, favors universal background checks. He noted differences of perceptions on guns exist between senators.
To Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, guns are viewed in the sense of family heirlooms, Hayden said.
“I think about it in a much different way, because I have personally had to deal with gun violence,” Hayden said. “My best friend was killed in 1995. He was shot and killed with a gun.”
Suburban Republican legislative leaders say their constituents do not want additional gun laws.
House Deputy Minority Leader Jenifer Loon, R-Eden Prairie, said the “overwhelming the concern is overreaching and infringement of Second Amendment rights.”
“There are responsible positions that have been put forth on bipartisan basis,” Loon said of a gun bill carried by Rep. Debra Hilstrom, DFL-Brooklyn Center.
That bill does not contain universal background check or gun show loophole provisions.
“It can pass,” Loon said.
Senate Minority Leader David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, also said his suburbanites do not want more gun laws.
“I think suburban district people, a lot are sportsmen; a lot are people who grew up hunting with guns — a lot of family connections,” he said of family traditions of hunting. “People of Minnesota are familiar with guns.” They look at gun control as political overreach, unconnected to real problems, he said.
Gov. Dayton loses beloved friend
Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton announced on Facebook on Friday, March 22, that his beloved dog Mesabi died unexpectedly two months shy of his 11th birthday.
The governor expressed his emotions in his tribute:
“He was a loyal, devoted friend. He and his sister, Dakota, who passed away two years ago, brought so much joy into my life. As I wrapped him in a blanket, I thought of a line from a long-ago song by ‘Blood, Sweat, and Tears.’ ‘And when I die, when I’m gone, there’ll be one child born in this world, to carry on. Carry on.’”
He was fortunate to have two equally wonderful German shepherds, Wanamingo and Itasca, to carry on, Dayton said.
Tim Budig can be reached at email@example.com.