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Don Davis, Forum News Service, Published March 10 2010

New bonding bill could face veto

ST. PAUL – Gov. Tim Pawlenty will veto a public works funding bill a House-Senate conference committee approved Tuesday night, a Republican lawmaker told his colleagues.

The main point of contention is money for a Moose Lake sex offender facility. Pawlenty wants $89 million, and the Democratic-controlled Legislature is offering $47.5 million. The total bill would spend almost $1 billion.

Rep. Larry Howes, R-Walker, said that the governor’s office told him Pawlenty could accept $60.5 million for the facility, but the entire bill likely will be vetoed at the level the committee approved.

Howes offered another potential scenario: Pawlenty could veto all of the bill except $63.5 million for flood prevention.

Howes tried to amend the bill to include the Moose Lake money, but the motion failed.

The new bill, funded by the state selling bonds, is due for House and Senate votes on Thursday unless Pawlenty and legislative public works negotiators work out a compromise. No talks are planned.

Thursday will be the second time lawmakers have voted on a bonding measure. After the first one, which contained no Moose Lake money, legislative leaders held the bill back, hoping for further negotiations. When they did not occur, lawmakers added the $47.5 million in hopes that Pawlenty would sign the bill.

Pawlenty’s office did not respond to requests for comment on the Tuesday night action, including why he needs $89 million.

The Senate’s top public works negotiator, Glyndon Democrat Sen. Keith Langseth, said Pawlenty has not compromised since he offered his bonding proposal nearly two months ago. Compromise is what happens in a democracy, Langseth added.

Lawmakers said they do not understand why Pawlenty thinks he needs

$89 million for Moose Lake, and they cannot get answers from the administration. When a Pawlenty aide offered to testify about that on Tuesday night, Rep. Alice Hausman, DFL-St. Paul, would not recognize him.

Homeless check-off

A proposal is being floated to add a voluntary check-off on Minnesota income tax returns to provide money for food shelves and homeless shelters.

“Minnesotans are known for their generosity and kindness toward others, especially those who are down on their luck,” said Rep. John Lesch, DFL-St. Paul. “By streamlining the donating process for shelters and food shelves, we are making it easier for our citizens to carry on this tradition.”

The idea for donating the voluntary $1 donation came from a St. Paul high school junior.

Bills signed

Gov. Tim Pawlenty signed three bills Tuesday:

Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.