Amid all the often-angry talk surrounding such issues as taxes, gaming, the stadium, education funding, Voter ID and bonding, Sen. Tom Bakk this morning introduced a bill that will really matter to most Minnesotans.
The Senate minority leader is proposing to move up this year’s fishing opener one weekend, from Mother’s Day weekend, to May 5 and 6.
He’s calling this bill “Mom’s Amendment,” because it takes away the motherhood-fishing conflict that arrives when the two special weekends coincide.
“If it’s going to be stopped, it’s going to be the Republicans who do it,” said Bakk, a twinkle in his eye.
In Minnesota, this is called brilliant politics. Who can be against either moms or walleyes?
Bakk said he’s making the proposal for a number of reasons. The mild weather created a horrible winter for North Country resort owners.
The combination of little snow and bad ice meant huge reductions in winter tourism. The mild winter also means ice is out on most lakes across the state, meaning anglers will be able to get their boats on to lakes that often would still have an ice covering in late April and early May. Additionally, the warm weather created an early walleye spawn on most lakes.
There is one other reason that Bakk is coming forward with this idea.
“This has been a do-nothing session,” said Bakk. “Not one job has been created. Nothing has been accomplished.”
Bakk, of course, blames Republicans for that.
But this bill gives something from this session to Minnesotans, the Senate minority leader said.
Rep. David Dille, DFL-Crane Lake, was expected to push forward the early-opener in the House.
Although the DNR commissioner has not yet weighed in on the idea, it’s hard to imagine there’ll be any opposition.
But “Mom’s Amendment” is about the only thing where anybody can find agreement at the Capitol, where thoughts of ending the session by the middle of next week are rapidly fading away.
Even in a session where nothing really has to be done, the workload seems far too heavy to be completed quickly.
That doesn’t mean that Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem isn’t still holding on to hopes that the session can end before next week’s Passover-Easter break.
“We’re still looking at the Fifth,” said Senjem of an April 5 end. “We can still do it.”
But he was quick to add that he’s now looking at April 16 as a secondary “landing date.”
The Senate was to spend today debating the Republicans’ tax bill, which members of the GOP are calling a “jobs bill.”
The bill, which has little chance of surviving a veto by Gov. Mark Dayton, would begin the process of phasing out business property taxes in Minnesota. Republicans in the Senate claim that their bill would create jobs, because it would put both cash — and stability — in the hands of businesses. Those businesses then would expand and create more jobs.
Not surprisingly, Bakk scoffs at the notion.
“It’s absolutely silly to call this tax bill a jobs bill,” Bakk said. “It’s a give-away to corporate multinationals.”
Additionally, Bakk said, the bill would increase the deficit by $192 million — and the governor and next year’s Legislature already are looking at a $1.1 billion deficit.
“They [Republicans] must plan that they won’t be in charge next year,” Bakk said.
Senate Tax Committee Chair Julianne Ortman, however, said Senate Republicans “are proud” of the tax bill and that testimony of business owners at Senate committees indicates it would spur economic growth.
And so on it goes.
There are huge gaps between the House and Senate on the bonding bill. There’s a move to get racinos back into the mix. There are disputes over how the school funding shifts should be repaid.
And, always, in the background, there is the Vikings’ stadium, which is never really dead but doesn’t seem to be alive, either.
With so much to fight over – and some of the fights involving Republicans in the House and Senate – “Mom’s Amendment” looks like a winner.