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Federal health care triggers heated debate in Minnesota capitol

People protesting and supporting the state’s opt-in to federal health care pushed, shoved, yelled and screamed their way into Gov. Mark Dayton’s office.   Dayton invited the public to the signing of his executive order and then took the highly unusual step of allowing opponents to speak from his podium in the ornate Capitol reception room. 

Tensions ran high and the room filled to dangerous levels, but the Democratic governor’s decision to give voice to the “Obamacare” opposition diffused a lot of the tension.  Dayton said the building was built for such displays of democracy and urged folks to be respectful or security would escort them out.

Former DFL legislative leaders Margaret Anderson Kelliher and Larry Pogemiller negotiated the ability of the next governor to opt-in to federal health care last session and they were in the crowd today.  Many lawmakers sat in the chairs in front of Dayton and they repeatedly gave him a standing ovation for enrolling in early Medical Assistance.

We’ll have much more coverage of a day like none other I’ve seen in many decades at the Capitol as we launch the 10th season of Almanac: At the Capitol live at 7pm on tpt’s Minnesota Channel and 10pm on tpt.  Senate leaders Koch and Bakk with join me live to react to the state’s decision on health care and much more.

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