m5648 BC-MN-XGR-Legislature-B 3rdLd-Writethru 05-12 0614

Democrats delay final bills as budget talks continue

Eds: ADDS 4 grafs after 13th graf pvs with surrogate mother bill passing in House.


Associated Press Writer

ST. PAUL (AP) — Top legislative Democrats held back Monday on their plan to push budget and tax bills through the House and Senate without an agreement with Gov. Tim Pawlenty, as they examined his proposal for a property tax cap.


With a week left in the session, the GOP governor said he asked lawmakers to hold off acting on the bills and mostly cleared his calendar for budget talks. The two sides met briefly during the morning and were on standby for more talks as tax specialists from both sides went over the fine print of the property tax plan.

DFL House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher said the money bills were on hold at least temporarily, although the Legislature was prepared to move ahead.

"Flexibility is going to be the name of the game," she told reporters after the morning meeting.

Pawlenty said floor votes on the bills without an overarching agreement would indicate that negotiations soured.

"Once they bring it to the floor and vote on it that would be kind of the signal that they’re going a different route," Pawlenty said after signing an agriculture and veterans bill.

Both chambers of the Legislature processed smaller bills in floor sessions expected to stretch into the wee hours.

The Senate unanimously approved a canine-oriented bill allowing dogs to accompany their owners to outdoor dining areas if local cities approve and imposing new restrictions on dog ownership for people who have used animals in violent crimes or had pets involved in vicious attacks.

The dine-with-your-dog measure got roughed up a bit in the House before passing by a wide margin. Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Delano, said it raises sanitation concerns, especially if the dogs try to lick patrons’ plates or soil the patio.


"Are they going to come in with a pooper scooper next to my table?" Emmer asked.

It would be up to the restaurant to clean up dog waste immediately.

The House voted 91-43 for a constitutional amendment asking voters to approve a citizens council to set legislative salaries and daily expense payments. Republicans protested bitterly, saying it was a ploy to give lawmakers a raise without having to vote on it directly. Rep. Kent Eken, the bill’s DFL sponsor, said legislators shouldn’t be in charge of their own pay.

Tougher regulations for pool drains won unanimous approval in the House, in a bill named after Abigail Taylor, the Edina girl who died after being injured in a pool last summer. It now heads back to the Senate, which gave its version unanimous support last month.

A bill regulating contracts between surrogate mothers and would-be parents set off skirmishes in the House about abortion, profit and the definition of family.

Rep. Steve Simon, DFL-St. Louis Park, said the "gestational carrier" legislation establishes ground rules for arrangements that are already happening, including requirements that the surrogate be at least 21 and undergo a mental health evaluation. Opponents, including Rep. Dan Severson, warned of unintended consequences.

"You’re going to have rich people who jump into this game and they’re going to want a basketball team of boys or a swim team of girls," said Severson, R-Sauk Rapids.

The bill passed 86-46.



Associated Press writer Brian Bakst contributed to this report.

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