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Senate votes down bill opponents see as anti-union

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger under Minnesota legislature, Minnesota state senators Updated: April 20, 2012 - 2:52 PM

The Republican controlled Minnesota Senate Friday voted down a measure that would have allowed more use of outside contractors, regardless of whether state employees were able to perform the services.

After a long pause the measure from state Sen. Dave Thompson, R-Lakeville, the Senate voted 28-35 to turn back the measure, with several Republican members voting against it. Opponents say the measure would hurt public service employees, backers say it could save the state money.

Thompson suggested the bill's failure may have had more to do with other issues.

"It might have been a smack down of a senator who is a little bit concerned about a large, bloated bonding bill. I'm jsut saying," Thompson said. Thompson has expressed concern about voting for any bonding bill.

Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, said he was surprised and disappointed that the bill failed.

"I don't know exactly what the reasons were but its disappointing," he said.

He also said that the Senate scuttled a potential plan to vote on their $500 million bonding bill in case it suffered the same fate.

"We weren't ready in the caucus to bring it up, just unsure of where the Democrats were as well as some of our own people," Senjem said. Bonding bills require a supermajority to pass. "We're just going to hang on for a while."

In past years, it was unusual for any measure to fail to get the requisite votes to pass off the House and Senate floor but it has become a more frequent occurrence in the last two years.

On Thursday, the Minnesota House turned back, by one vote, a measure to borrow money to fix up the state Capitol, on Wednesday, a measure to prevent beer shortages if the state government shuts down failed by one vote and last year it had a similar failure on a borrowing bill. This year, the Senate pulled back a Game and Fish bill that didn't have the votes to pass.

Slightly less remarkable but sill unusual, several measures have failed to pass committees this biennium. Notably: The Minnesota Vikings stadium bill fell short of votes needed in a Monday House committee, last month, the measure was tabled in a Senate committee when it was clear the votes were not there. A Senate committee also turned back a measure to allow racinos. 

Here's the roll call on the Thompson bill: 

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