Busy day in the SenateThe Minnesota Senate passed nearly 130 bills during a marathon four-hour stretch Monday before adjourning for a week-long Easter-Passover break.
By: Andrew Tellijohn, E/P State Capitol Bureau
ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota Senate passed nearly 130 bills during a marathon four-hour stretch Monday before adjourning for a week-long Easter-Passover break.
Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller, DFL-Minneapolis, said debate on most of the bills had already taken place during the past few weeks of the legislative session, which allowed senators to plow through the measures.
"We've been very productive to this point," he said. "That should bode well for an orderly rest of the session."
The Senate finished the major part of its bill-passing session around 1 p.m., in order to pass a jobs bill it did not adjourn until nearly 4 p.m. The House, which spent its day focusing on two large measures, adjourned for vacation minutes earlier.
Both bodies stayed well past deadlines they had set to adjourn -- the House had planned to leave at 2 p.m. and the Senate at 3 p.m.
House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, DFL-Minneapolis, had emphasized the importance of adjourning early so Jewish members would have time to prepare for the Passover holiday.
Legislators will return April 6.
Anyone hoping to someday make a living as a chiropractor best avoid committing felony-level criminal sexual conduct.
The Senate passed a bill Monday authored by Sen. Sharon Erickson Ropes, DFL-Winona, requiring license revocation for conviction of such crimes.
Sen. Steve Dille, R-Dassel, expressed concern that the bill could permanently prevent a teenager who makes a mistake by, for example, sending unwanted sexually related text messages, from pursuing a chiropractic career.
"Teenagers do stupid things. Our brains don't mature until we're 25 or so," Dille said. "That could be considered a reason for not letting them become a chiropractor."
Sen. Mike Parry, R-Waseca, on the other hand, argued that the bill should not allow professionals to apply to get their licenses back.
"We need to hold them in the same high standards as we do our other professionals," he said.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation would be able to swap land parcels with American Indian tribes under a measure that passed the Senate Monday.
Sen. Gary Kubly, DFL-Granite Falls, authored the bill so MnDOT could swap a roadway leading to the Upper Sioux Community near Granite Falls for an adjacent piece of land.
The Sioux community then would pay to straighten the road.
The bill will apply to future situations where it makes sense for MnDOT to use the land-swap strategy as well, Kubly said, adding that it basically gives the state the flexibility to deal with tribes as it does other units of government.
The bill does not specify whether the state bought the parcels of land or acquired them in other ways, Kubly added. Instead, he said, he would rely on the organization to use its judgment to decide whether a land swap is appropriate.
Sen. Julianne Ortman, R-Chanhassen, said the move would be inconsistent. Tribes in the past have wanted to be treated like sovereign nations and, as such, have received millions of dollars in refunded taxes.
"They either want to be treated like sovereign nations or they want to be treated like local governments," she said.
Sen. Sandra Pappas lives in a kid-free, plant-free and animal-free condo, but said she appreciates how much other people love their pets.
The Senate passed a Pappas-sponsored bill Monday that allows courts to remove animals from potentially dangerous situations.
Sen. Satveer Chaudhary, DFL-Fridley, said elevating the status of pets and companion animals could embolden animal rights activists who want animals to have the same rights as humans.
But Pappas, DFL-St. Paul, said the bill doesn't have anything to do with raising the status of pets. Rather, it is aimed to put into statute assurances that judges can consider pets in domestic abuse cases.
The measure aims to prevent situations where pet owners refuse to move out of dangerous situations because they fear for the safety of their pets.
"You know how close people can get to their pets," she said.
The move passed 59-7.
Drug measure passes
The Senate passed a measure banning the sale or possession of salvia divinorum.
Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, had argued last week for the measure on the grounds that Minnesota law enforcement has seen an increase in the Mexican herb's presence since it was banned by border states.
The bill would make selling salvia a gross misdemeanor and possessing it a misdemeanor. (See Wednesday's Echo Press for more details.)
Time to joke
Sen. Ray Vandeveer, R-Forest Lake, drew a laugh around lunchtime during a long Monday session.
After listening to Mike Parry, R-Waseca, explain why firefighters should be allowed solicit funds during work times, the 79th bill the Senate voted on Monday morning, Vandeveer rose and said: "We can tell you are new here. You're still making sense."
Sen. Steve Dille, R-Dassel, said he usually prepares his 200 ewes for lambing starting in mid-to-late May since the Legislative session usually runs to the constitutional deadline, which this year is May 17.
He wishes he would have prepared earlier this year. "It's rare to have this much done at this point in the session."
With one-third of the budget deficit put to rest Monday, he thinks the Legislature could adjourn by the end of April.
"I think we're in good shape," Dille said.