Deal! Special session under way
The end of the legislative session was so lifeless that I went home around 9 p.m., leaving our operation in the good hands of Erin Golden. I woke at 3 a.m. and saw a stream of emails and tweets proclaiming a deal to close out the session, a deal that I am just now trying to decipher.
Looks like Republican lawmakers succeeded in winning a majority of the surplus -- $960M of the $1.65B budget surplus -- for their two key priorities in tax cuts and (non-rail) transportation. (Remember they already got money for insurance rebates and reinsurance earlier in the session.) Still need to find out what all this means for the health care access fund, the slush fund the Legislature has been turning to that will be sunsetting soon. Gov. Mark Dayton also seems to have made a large concession on pre-Kindergarten, although still hunting details. GOP lawmakers enticed Dayton with a $990M bonding bill, and they will send him preemption (the measure that would prevent cities from setting their own minimum wage and other labor standards) in a separate bill that he will veto. So, everyone gets a little something, but the biz crowd loses a top priority. (Sorry, Charlie.)
Dayton convened the special session at 12:01 a.m. today, after which both chambers quickly adjourned. They'll meet today at 3 to begin passing bills, working through the night until 7 a.m. Wednesday.
A few random notes: loss for insurance lobby (and insurance maestro, Rep. Bob Loonan) on the seatbelt provision taken out of public safety. It would have allowed insurers to consider seat belt use in determining accident liability. Loss for Rep. Nick Zerwas, as the bill to increase penalties on demonstrators who block highways was also taken out; in exchange, Dayton allows inclusion of codification of no driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants. This latter seemed like a smart trade by Dayton -- making protesting on a highway a gross misdemeanor threatened to give a lot of DFL activists a permanent criminal record with the threat of serious consequences that come with it; whereas, undocumented immigrants can't get driver's licenses right now anyway. Internet privacy provisions gone. Loss for three foundations hoping for relief from clawback from Petters Ponzi scheme. No doubt we'll find lots of little nuggets in the days ahead.
DFL has a candidate in the First CD: WSJ, part of a national effort by Dems to get veterans to run.
ISIS claiming responsibility for blast at Manchester Ariana Grande concert that targeted her teenaged girl fans.
I love this set of interviews with long haul truckers, who describe a tough, relatively low paid life.
I haven’t been married in over 10 years. My last husband hated me being a truck driver. He used to fight with me on the phone out here on the road. I loved it when I had no signal. It was either my job or his alcohol, and I picked my job.
Great song lyrics!
It was Ted Kennedy who led the drive to deregulate the trucking industry (airlines, too) which many conservative forget was an important aspect of his rich policy legacy. As a result, the goods we get from trucks are cheaper than they otherwise would be. Which got me to thinking about our economy the past half century. What is cheaper? Apparel, electronics, furniture, gasoline, air travel, food and a lot consumer goods. What is more expensive? Housing, health care, education and higher education. And what has happened to wages in those sectors? Why have these things happened? Is it the natural laws of economic gravity? Or is it specific policies that have been put in place?
Plenty more reporting in the next few days about the budget deal.
Have a good day all.
-- J. Patrick Coolican