Lobbying in St. Paul

My email to Let Duluth Vote members:

Gary and I had a good but a long day.
I’ve just read Brenda’s account of last night’s LDV meeting and I should tell you that Gary and I heard nothing about the Bakk Bill being too late. That seems unlikely although it was an issue that was raised in Mike’s House Committee.
Gary and I got to St. Paul at 10:15AM but the hearing, which was originally scheduled at 11AM, didn’t take place until 4:45PM.
Nilson, Dixon, Solberg (the lobbyist) and one parent were there. Mike got us to the
top of the agenda and because this is a local bill and legislators aren’t usually interested in it we expected no more than a half hour’s attention. It took an hour and twenty minutes to finish.
Gary and I went first for about ten minutes. Then Dixon and Nilson and Solberg went second. They got all the follow up questions.
Mike’s bill was late but he’s a long time veteran of the Committee and the very
sharp chair made it clear that there are no deadlines for members to introduce local property tax bills.
One legislator did carp about this not going through the Ed committee first and that is Mary Murphy’s committee and Mary is a co-sponsor of Mike’s bill. Mary Murphy showed up and spoke for a long time. She’s Her testimony was a little ambiguous but she did confirm that this is a big deal in Duluth. She told the committee that wherever she goes into a stori in Duluth she has to plan on an extra hour because people want to know what she thinks about the Red Plan.
Rep Dill gave us a scare when he offered an amendment about taxing cabins for
rural school districts. That would have killed it because it would have had
statewide implications and been controversial but he withdrew it having
registered his complaint. (His district can’t pass referendums and levies and he
wants to tax vacation homes.)
The committee will vote on Mike’s bill at some later date but I don’t know when.
Afterwards I was a bit discouraged but out in the hallway Mike and another Duluth
lobbyist assured us that it would be unlikely that Mike’s bill would be side
lined.
We heard again that Sen. Bakk is determined to pass the bill. As I said, no one
in the Senate would be eager to cross him.
Prettner Solon came and testified before the committee saying the plan was good
for Duluth and would only have a $125 million in tax impact.
I made no friends with the other side. I said that Nilsen and Dixon were selling
snakeoil. That’s OK because Dixon has never rescheduled the meeting he offered to have with me. I’m beginning to think it will never happen.
While we had some down time Gary and I wandered over to the State Auditor’s
office. We stopped in and had an impromptu meeting with two lawyers for about 45 minutes who already knew about the Jaros Bill and who had received questions from Gary.
We had a good conversation about how to secure more of the public information that the District is witholding from Gary.
I’m still cautiously optimistic about Mike’s bill but we have to push every other button we can just in case it doesn’t get passed.

Harry