Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Get on home 

The Legislature has done it: Passed a health impact fee tax increase, spent the money, and gone home.

It's safe to live in Minnesota again.

Items meriting some comment:

The new abortion provision will require doctors, before terminating a pregnancy at least 20 weeks old, to tell the mother if anesthesia could eliminate fetal pain and then administer the anesthesia if requested. Doctors who fail to do so could be sued for damages.

"I am faced with a decision about which group of my constituents I am going to disappoint here," said Rep. Jim Knoblach, R-St. Cloud, adding that he believes the bill will prevent abortions. "If I am forced to choose life or taxes, in this case, I am going to chose life."

I think space just opened up between Knoblach and Phil Krinkie, who took a walk on the tax. Given the other players in this field for the House race, I think that space is to Krinkie's advantage. Knoblach appears to move towards Michele Bachmann on this one, but she's entrenched.

Despite a special session-long debate over whether the charge was a fee or a tax, Pawlenty in the end insisted that it be described as a fee in law and that it appear in the health bill rather than the tax bill.
That sound you hear, Governor, is the frying pan flung off your head as a thank you for being such a nice guy to compromise with the Democrats. Being seen peevish won't help your ratings. Oh, and those four things you had to have two of? Please tell us which two you got. (To your credit, you seem to have won on the education parts of QComp and Get Ready, Get Credit, but I'm still waiting to hear on school choice.)
...the tax bill contains another $232 million in revenue increases, including nearly $100 million from repealing scheduled reductions in liquor and car rental taxes. Another $38 million comes from up-front payment of sales tax on car leases.
I'm surprised that wasn't in the transportation bill.
Nine cities were given the power to create or expand a local sales tax if voters approve in a referendum: Rochester, St. Cloud, Mankato, Albert Lea, Bemidji, Proctor, Willmar, Winona and Worthington.
I actually believe the reason Knoblach voted for the tax bill was this one; the heat on him to get this thing passed was tremendous. Ellenbecker must be smiling somewhere tonight.

Who won? A picture's worth a thousand words.

At least they are adjourned now. Don't let the door hit you where the good Lord split you, dear legislators. Get on home.

UPDATE: David has some unkind words for the Governor as well. Like "cynical". insisting that the "fee" remain in the Human Services bill, he made sure to split the fiscal conservative part of the Republican base from the social conservative part. Either vote pro-life, or vote anti-tax.

When asked to allow the two votes to be split so conservatives could vote their conscience--and keep their promises to their constituents--he essentially said "tough luck."

It is simply not true that the tobacco tax could not have passed as part of the tax bill or on its own--they would have gotten the votes. But by insisting that his allies walk the plank Pawlenty was sticking it to the very members who have stuck by him through 3 tough years--all to try to get cover for himself. ("After all, even fiscal conservative X voted for the cigarette 'fee'"). Many democrats were more than willing to see the bills separated, but of course getting their opponents to take a bad vote was a bonus round.
And the guy caught completely in the split was Knoblach. If he's routed in the primary in CD6, this will go down as the day his campaign started to sink.

UPDATE 2 (7/14): Craig Westover thinks I give Pawlenty "too much credit" for the education initiatives that passed. Let me defend myself somewhat. First, I was grading him in that passage for at least getting things he decided he wanted in QComp and Get Ready, Get Credit. That is, he actually made a conditionality stick, which he didn't do with the Two Out of Four Ain't Bad list. I'm (faintly) praising political skill rather than education policy here. My impression of QComp is different from Craig's but I haven't seen the final bill yet (if you have it, Fishsticks, drop me a copy please), so I'll wait to see his longer column and the bill before passing judgment.

Second, I think Craig and I will disagree on GRGC. Students arriving in my university from Minnesota public high schools saying they've had college prep classes who are simply unprepared. We spend far too much time on remediation; GRGC should reduce that. Of course I'm a university professor and partly I'm expressing my own bias towards having college freshmen actually ready for college. Craig and I simply have different priorities here.