The first steps in the legislative process each session is the installation of leadership and staff followed by temporary rules. Normally, this is a pro forma process, because the decisions on these questions were largely made in the results of the election.
In the Senate, everything moved forward as expected. Because Republicans hold a 34-32 vote majority (pending a Special Election in Senate District 11) they hold total control, yes, there were questions by the Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk (DFL-03, Cook) about the composition of the Senate Committees and the large number of majority members compared to the minority members when the margin between the two sides is not so vast. Well, the lesson here is one well known, To the Victor Goes the Spoils and in this case, the spoils are the ability to write the rules.
In the House, the bulk of the activity was mostly expected. In the Speaker’s election Rep Melissa Hortman (DFL-36B, Brooklyn Park) received the bulk of her caucuses support. Rep Robert Bierman (DFL-57B, Apple Valley) was absent due to illness and Rep Alice Hausman (DFL-66A, St Paul) also said she was feeling ill, and missed the vote. Many thought, because Hortman had reassigned Hausman from Chair of the Capital Investment Committee to Housing, due to her decision to negotiate with the Republican Majority on the Bonding Bill against the wishes of Hortman, last session.
Additionally, the Four Horseman, Reps Steve Drazkowski (R-21B, Mazeppa), Tim Miller (R-17A, Prinsburg), Calvin Bahr (R-31B, East Bethel) and Jeremy Munson (R-23B, Lake Crystal) were joined by Rep Eric Lucero (R-30B, Dayton) in passing on the vote for Rep Kurt Daudt (R31A, Crown).
Later during the debate on the Temporary Rules Daudt threw a wrench into the works by challenging the proposed Rules as creating a black hole for a public view of legislation when a change in the process allows bills to be moved between committees not by actions on the house floor, but rather in the Ways and Means Committee. One clear message Daudt is getting, loud and clear is you may have a microphone on the floor, but not the votes to carry your voice far beyond the chamber.
We have a scheduled interview with Ways and Means Chairman Lyndon Carlson (DFL-45A, Crystal) on Friday and we will be able to flesh out the details of the new process during that time.
Stay tuned for the Carlson Interview.