MPR Special: 1977 Minnesota Legislative Summary

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MPR legislative reporters Bob Potter and Debbie Gage prepared a half-hour summary of highlights from the 1977 Minnesota legislative session. Many observers have praised the orderly fashion in which many major bills were passed, though there were the expected political disagreements over tax, welfare, and other basic policies.

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I'd Center Luther. What's the present members of the Senate we are today subsidizing the throw away container industry. president point of order the sun is making a very eloquent speech and we don't have a quorum here. This is a bill that's been lobbied and talked about for years to years. We have to have enough people Senators interested to listen sergeant-at-arms. Bring them in. Miss German Cheddar peppers, but I don't think what Senator Luther is saying or what anybody else me say this evening is going to change one vote one iota and I think that if we're interested in dispensing the time we could almost vote right now and save everybody an awful lot of Confusion And also probably give us a little sleep later on. But we should have sent her. Aeschbach is right there. If we have to send the majority leader in we might but that's putting that if they won't come in. Proceed we're told that this legislative session was nothing like the others. No, press conferences were held in the men's room. No conference committees met on the shape of the table and John Chenoweth was the only senator who had to go to the hospital legislative leaders made a real effort this year to talk to one another. They took a more comprehensive approach to issues and four sessions and Conference committees rarely got out of hand. It was easy agreement on an Omnibus tax bill providing a hundred and sixty-three million dollars in property tax relief the bill raises the circuit breaker maximum to $800 changes the assessed valuation of homes and farms and puts more of the tax burden on commercial property for individuals. The personal income tax credit goes up to $30. There's an expanded definition of Working Poor and this is paid for by taxing public pensions above $7,200 and military pay working parents can also get 30% of their babysitting cost and tax credits. Independent Republicans had little to do with this. They for the most part were reduced to being irritating and when Senate minority leader Robert ashback accuse the dfl of taking more credit than was do Senator Bill McCutcheon lost his temper. You got the verbage in your bill, but the money in the school aide Bill frankly Center McCutchen. This should be attached Bill not a relief bill. Mr. President ran into problems with the first pie chart and it doesn't look like we're going to get out of it this session. Either Senator ice right now, but Center aeschbach has a floor he can make whatever statements he wants within reason. Why should they sound reasonable to me? Senators Robert ass back and Ed. Gerety the School Aids bill is also a major part of the state's property tax relief program since it funnels revenue from income and sales tax collections back to local school districts, which otherwise would have to raise the money from property taxes at about a billion and 3/4 dollars. The school a bill is the largest spending measure the lawmakers passed a billion and a quarter of it goes back to local disk fix through the foundation Aid formula which rises from $960 currently to $1,030 in the coming school year and 1090 the year after despite the increase in the formula of the state share of local school cost is well below what it was when the formula was devised in 1971 veteran GOP representative Rod Serling charge during floor debate that the famous Minnesota Miracle is a little tarnished, but I can remember when I was the chairman. The last time I was chairman of the school-age division. I won't tell you how many years ago. We were fighting to maintain 45 and 46% of the state's money going into school AIDS. And then we had the miracle and went up closer to 70. Look where it is today. Only seven percentage points over what it was 12 years ago when I had that subcommittee, we're back down to 54% I can't recall in my 20 some years ever voting against the school aide bill. I'm going to vote against this one. Straighten hard we have in Minnesota prior to 1971. The first thing we had was a real estate taxpayers Revolt almost well now we're caught in another dilemma. declining enrollment Who projected declining enrollment does a degree we have it now? I don't recall hearing that discussion and 1971. I'll just seemed like all of a sudden hear something happen to us. Nobody ever knew. It was coming will a second chairman of the School Aids division in the exchange with Rod Cyril while the school a bill does not firmly come to grips with a declining enrollment problem. It does make a small start first by requiring local districts to develop long-term plans based on enrollment in Revenue projections and by exploring Cooperative arrangements with neighboring districts, it lets 10 districts experimental a close one or more grades, which will be taught in another District. The bill will encourage highly-paid senior teachers to retire early take leaves of absence or work part-time and the bill gives the State education commissioner authority to review and comment on school building project costing $400,000 or more than they will recommend of the legislature how economically or educationally unwise building can be prevented in the future. I'll plan similar to the school aid formula to fund social service programs was passed by the house this year that bill would give block grants to counties to provide the social services. Their residents need the idea was strongly supported by the Speaker of the House Martin Sabo my judgment that the needs vary from County to County. I don't think every county is is a shame the needs the people in terms of services in a particular County are the same throughout the state of Minnesota. It seemed to me that we have much better system legislature makes what I think is a very appropriate decision, which we've done in schools and local government expenditures. We set some priorities and how many dollars were going to spend With some guideline which standards with some mandated programs but allow some discretion from County to County throughout the state to to determine which Services they think are most important for their people. The bill was laid over in the Senate, but could possibly see action next year. Bitter cold winter weather made it clear that the legislature would have to deal with the energy shortage on January 18th energy agency director John milhoan outlined in energy Supply emergency as part of the emergency plan. I am recommending 9 first phase conservation measures to be implemented immediately. They include first required thermostat settings at 65 degrees in the day and 60 degrees at night in the last day of the session lawmakers passed a bill which will promote some conservation but it is not as tough as some Provisions debated earlier in both House and Senate committees, the energy bill sets minimum air conditioner efficiency standards bands gas pilot lights in new appliances and bands outdoor billboard lighting perhaps the most significant provision is extension of the State Building Code to all communities. This will ensure that all new homes meet minimum insulation standards. The idea was not popular among were lawmakers representative, Joe niehaus told Chief house author Willard Munger to visit World Minnesota to learn why I'd like to have them come out in the rural areas where everybody knows everybody else and see what kind of buildings those people put up. If they didn't put in good insulation and put a proper buildings. They wouldn't be on the business very long because everybody know about it and then turn right like to ask him how many homes he could heat with all the energy that would be burned by the army of inspectors. They'll be running around the state checking homes and land that tons of paper that will be used for all the forms. I will have to be sent in mr. Speaker. Did you go back to your Farmers if they run out of fuel and don't have any he'll there to dry their corn because you voted to strike out a section of a little safe enough fuel to heat 46th and Holmes you go back and tell him that Meanwhile Senate supporters of the building cluding Winston Borden Ave Brainerd, we're unhappy because the conference committee eliminated tax credits for insulation and solar energy. recent energy conservation measures This bill is weak on energy conservation. And we talked and this session about property tax relief. But unless the people use the few dollars they get in property tax relief for insulation. It will mean more more BTUs that will go out the windows and up the chimney. It will mean more dollars that will go into the pockets of the energy monopolist. I don't think that's what we want but this bill does not speak the insulation and said and very little to conservation measures and I don't want anybody to go home claiming that the energy bill in this session of the legislature took care of the energy problem. We have the tax study commission will look into the tax credit and report back next year. Declining supplies of oil and natural gas means increased Reliance on electricity generated from coal and that means more power plants and power lines a special house-senate committee held a day-long hearing in st. Cloud the second week of the session to listen to Farmers upset by the united in a Cooperative Power Association line to be built through their region while legislators wound up not having to deal directly with that problem since I went to court they did pass a bill designed to head off similar confrontations in the future the bill requires the Environmental Quality board to take many factors into account before approving a power line route including putting new lines on existing Towers routing lines along existing Railroad in Highway rights-of-way and disrupting agricultural land as little as possible. One of the biggest controversies in this bill was weather farmer should receive payments in addition to eminent domain settlements GOP representative Dave Jocelyn who comes from a rural area in the western part of the state supported the amendment providing extra payments. Do we have a volcano out there? That's right there hear up. These people are serious out there and we're going there's no doubt in my mind. We're going to be Bloodshed on the country this coming summer. This amendment is not perfect. But this amendment will do a little bit to appease those people that are affected representative Harry sieben opposed extra payments. The principal is already in our Constitution and interstates. But you get fair market value if your land has taken. I think you had only get it once you shouldn't keep getting it and keep getting it and keep getting it in the end the House and Senate pass the conference committee report which will provide payments to all Farmers whose land is Cross by high-voltage power lines. Farmer Longley proposed UPAC. PA route will get about $300 a year relations between legislators in the dfl majority and independent Republican minority. We're more cordial this year in keeping with the more deliberative less volatile atmosphere of the entire session. The GOP did sharply criticized the Senate majority for laying over a bill providing special elections to fill future vacancies in u.s. Senate seats, that bill did pass the house senate elections committee chairman Ed Garrity said the matter needed study over the interim. However, some cynics observed that Majority Leader Nick Coleman is a close friend of Governor privilege and might be in line for appointment if a vacancy occurred. There was also a little partisan bickering in the Senate at the end of the session got into a store additional stall are they are much better at say no then yes, or helping in any other way and I noticed them one of the boats are the who are the members were red and told there were enough Democrats to pass the bill and then they switch the green if they wish to make us do the work. We're willing to take the responsibility if it still at 8 the work of the people the state of Minnesota. I know I moved at the Senate resolve itself into a committee-of-the-whole and take up the Senate general orders calendars beginning with number one on the general orders calendar. This will be laying the foundation for the motion. Mr. President send it to Coleman. I think you've been very unfair in your comments and remarks. blatantly political you have a 49 remember caucus this body and you can't keep a quorum. We're going to do the state's business. You got to be here to do it. I considered mr. President and coding in my motion that we skipped the bills authored by the independent Republicans, but they have so few that it wouldn't make much sense. It is dealt with a politically touchy issue of their own pay now $8,400 a year, but with daily expense payments of 40 or $48 total compensation average is about 14,000 legislators pass to measure raising their pay the $16,500 in 1979 and 18 V and 1988. Per diem payments will drop in 79 to $17 for metropolitan area lawmakers $27 for those in the rest of the State House minority leader Henry suggested that legislators be reimbursed just for actual expenses. Do away with our arbitrary decision as to do how much we're going to spend which is at best a guess and say from now on we're going to do it like everywhere else in the business world as it everywhere else for state employees. We're going to be reimbursed for a reasonable out-of-pocket expenses called the Kellogg Square Amendment because it will provide a religious that are here are the opportunity to reside in Kellogg Square during the alleged are sessions. You can go down there and rent yourself a $500 a month apartment. You can not eat any more elaborate restaurants. You can eat the most Choice steaks and all that you need to do is to come here to the business office and freezing your receipt and your rental statement and you're going to be reimbursed majority leader of Anderson, the pay bill also includes raises for Top members of the executive and judicial branches of state government. I don't want to lose my job. That's exactly what I'm saying. And I didn't want my employees. Actually Amber's I'm basically in business for myself. I work so that those people have come in a happy with my service and I can hear my own commission the legislature raise the minimum wage to 2:30 in our it also Lord the tip credit that's the amount of money an employer can deduct from waitress minimum wage. The bill will almost waitresses to make more money but waitresses from chain restaurants were adamantly against it many did not know what the bill did they were afraid they would lose their jobs and they were always accompanied by Chumbawamba a lobbyist for the Minnesota Restaurant Association or Lobby very hard against the bill, but it passed after Minneapolis dfl Senator Steve Keef accused Bora harassing his sister a twenty-two-year-old waitress. Mr. President. This bill is very controversial and there's been some very odd lobbying tactics involved in it notices posted. Restaurants at Miss state of the provisions of the bill other things I take those things with a grain of salt. I don't approve of them, but I figure it comes with the job and when people call me up and threatened to make me lose election or have people send a million letters to my house or make me ashamed to talk to my family. I take that as part of the job too, but I consider it absolutely appalling that somebody would try to bring pressure on a member of this body by going after his family and particularly after someone as defenseless as my 22 year-old sister Minneapolis dfl Senator Steve Keef restricting lobbyist Was Defeated it was sponsored by Brooklyn Center dfl Senator Bill Luther and it would have an Essence required. Lobby has to disclose their income. It would also required corporations to disclose how many lobbyists they were hiring opponents said the bill would restrict the free flow of information to the legislature. They said the little guy next door couldn't come up and Lobby and St. James dfl stand. Howard Olsen went even farther than that not common cause office not him for the people vote for you. Alright the center lights tonight. I just need to keep our comment really on the bill Mister chairman. He could have a real Donnybrook here after the Bell S release the, what do you know about common cause for all I know there are Pinko organization? I suspect they may in fact be a peaceful organization the Senate of being order. Mr. Chairman, when those bills come before the natural resources in a committee and are supported by Emperor and every gentleman here or lady who dared to go against them will be considered by the general public to be crooked Senator Howard Olson legislators acted fairly early in the session on an unemployment compensation bill designed the balance to State unemployment account which had fallen into a deficit because of the 1975 recession Coalition of Labor industry and public Representatives agreed to Provisions, which would raise benefits and taxes on employers and deny benefits to those who are fired or leave work voluntarily if I just let your past another bill to raise benefits for workers who are disabled on the job and it passed a measure to consolidate number of employment department send to a new state agency called the Department of Economic Security the Senate extended the higher ussery rate, which is supposed to make housing more accessible and also passed two bills. Volume limited Branch Banking Branch Banking was very controversial Santa. Irwin. Borden said many real people don't have Banks and can't get loans opponents said Branch Banking would encourage Monopoly among the larger Banks and the strongest opponent of all the banking bills was Minneapolis dfl representative James rice the house populist. We know that in the governor's office. on this bill But the governor met with the Senate conferees and with the bankers and said that he wanted Branch Banking. And then that meeting I'm reliably informed by participant's the representative the First Bank systems of Minneapolis think his name is Pratt or and they are platter name like that said that there were that the deposits of the first system were made up about 75% of depositors who had over $100,000 and their facility contributing to their great concentration. As a matter of fact, I know what the big concentration Banks do Chase Manhattan New York City Bank the giannini trust read the loans that they write off in a year's time, but not loans that were made to Farmers or small businessman or to somebody was trying for Home Improvement just gigantic write-offs for lawns that they made that industry and why not? If they make 30 good loans and they lose to and they have to write off millions of dollars as many of them do they can always charge that back to the to the small depositor. They're not in business. They never have been in business to serve Community Nate's Minneapolis dfl Senator James. Rice born was threatening to tie Branch Banking to Usery but the construction industry was upset about that and a compromise form of Branch Banking was tied to another bill probably the most important environmental bill which passed this session provides 28 and 1/2 million dollars to local communities for controlling Dutch elm disease there is money for tree removal replanting. Would you live session and Disposal projects research and public education legislators pass the Bill forbidding the sale of milk and non-returnable plastic bottles after July of next year that measure will cut natural gas consumption and reduce Solid Waste Disposal problems. Two other bills affecting Solid Waste became entangled politically and neither past Labor and Industry lobbyists combined in opposition to The Familiar container deposit Bill and supported another major putting a tax on all products which produce litter the governor's office refused to get behind Lee deposit bill at the end of the session preferring instead. They have a single deposit and litter Bill drawn up over the interim gun control has come up about as often as band the can and this year the legislature passed a measure which requires a permit to purchase a handgun as well as carry one bill requires a police check into the background of anyone who wants to buy a gun from a dealer once approved a purchase permit is good for a year gun sales between private parties are exempt from the records check but supporters say that about two-thirds to three-quarters of all gun sales will still be included. One other hotly debated issue from a past session was settled this year the sports Stadium legislators decided to leave the location and type of facility to a seven-member commission appointed by the governor Stadium debate took a lot less time this year than last media interest was still Keen effect, which Disturbed representative Bill Kelly during the live televised Committee hearing that take place in the legislative process that are more important than a stadium. It was a bill up this morning and Health and Welfare. I understand that was the 86 or 87 million dollars much more affects the people of Minnesota than this bill. There was also some legislation before the house education committee. And so I come in because I am somewhat disconcerted by the emphasis of the media that this is the big issue before the legislature and I simply would like to State one legislators opinion and daddy is that I would hope the people of Minnesota do not confuse the priorities of the media with the priorities of the legislature because this is not a priority. better before this body my opinion Respect the number of my colleagues might agree and that the second comment is I hope those things you're pointing at me. You don't sterilize. Play the record show that the finger-pointing I guess are some kind of microphone one major bill that died. This year was determinate sentencing the house in the senate had very different versions and both refuse to compromise send it on their bill McCutcheon had the bill that was passed in vetoed last year. It would have set fixed sentences and abolish the parole board. I was Arthur Arnold Kemp. He had a bill to set a sentencing commission of District judges. It would have kept the parole board and would have meant longer sentences McCutcheon's bill pass the Senate but when I got to the house can be substituted his bill on the house floor the Senate also killed the gay-rights bill which covered housing education employment and credit send it author Allen sphere1 preliminary approval, but he was to vote short of final passage and he ran into tremendous opposition Sturgeon Lake dfl Senator Florian Chmielewski. Personhood and I can understand that because I can recognize yellow white red and black butt and I do have a problem when it comes to a recognizing a homosexual. I want to say that in my lifetime. For example, I have raised and I have given a home to colored people six seven of them. I fed him I gave it all to it just because I I didn't want to discriminate and they knew they were in jail or whatever. It might be and I gave them a home with me and I have to distinguish but in the case of a homosexual, I don't know how the world anyone could bring such a ridiculous piece of legislation before this body and say that someone's discriminating Because unless you coming advertise yourself and say this is what I am. No one would ever know send their lowest and you Senator Chow mileski, mr. Chairman and search mr. Mileski. You spoke very eloquently that you do not discriminate and I find that very commendable, but I am puzzled about one thing. And now you said that during your lifetime that you had given the housing to number of colored people and I just want to what color were they Lewis and Florian Chmielewski two days later spirograph to have the bill withdrawn. I just what I've been most disturbed about has been that the campaign a vilification against this bill has been led by people who call themselves Christians and I was still believe the Christianity that the bog message of Christianity has not been represented by the people that have been calling you the small-minded bigger than people who have been calling you over the last few days. Many of you have come to me and said I'm with you in my heart, but I can't take this pressure anymore. Well, I can understand that but I have to say in all frankness that I can't admire it. The bottom line in this job is having the courage and having the guts to stand up for what you believe Minneapolis dfl. Senator Alan spier. He promises to be back with a gay rights bill in 1979 EIC either brilliant flashes of lightning are light out and we are never going to quit here in the daytime. I'm sure some of the members are nervous. They want to know what to do if we would quit now, where do they go and we can stay till midnight that you know, there was a rumor the front door was open and So there's a great deal of Confusion by mr. President. Nevertheless. I will have to deal with that confusion. I just say Well done thou good and faithful servants. And I moved that the Senate do now adjourn until noon January 17th, 1978 legislators usually stay till midnight on the last day being disorganized and hating in a way to go home. But Coleman said the Senate would be home for supper and it was it even had the satisfaction of a journey before the house the smoothness of this session can be partially attributed to steady leadership house Speaker Martin Sable did a good job running the house and Coleman did his best to behave you obtain new powers and was able to appoint conference committees. He carried no bills and he kept wipes at Republicans to a minimum. So the legislature was marked only by the usual debates. Okay, Miss chairman. I would move that we would insert the my device is that it be a, after in between casing and provided? Over there's a serious. Cardoza. You want to change the. Too, Otherwise it that at least makes the sentence whether it's well-written or not. It had at least reads right the grammarian for Freeborn. I don't know what the motion is or what the action to be taken. But frankly we can't amend the rules because the rules say we got to spend all amendments the rules the rules committee. So unfortunately, we have a kind of overrun many of the rules and procedures but actually You know, it's important that we really know her. We are what are we were to amend that rule and then we will adopt the employee resolution with Bob Potter. I'm Debbie Gage at the Capitol.


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