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Minnesota lawmakers head off for Easter-Passover break with some 7,000 bills left to debate; Internet gets a boost

ST. PAUL -- Minnesota lawmakers begin a week-long Passover-Easter break Monday with nearly 7,000 bills left to debate.

If legislators were to consider every bill that has been introduced in the current two-year session, they would take 233 votes every weekday until they adjourn in May.

But legislators will not return April 6 and begin debating all of those measures. Some of those bills were folded into larger measures known as omnibus bills. Others simply never had the votes to pass out of a committee. And many were introduced just to show constituents back home that lawmakers were listening to their concerns, knowing the bills would go nowhere.

In the two-year session (bills filed in the first year remain alive in the second year), 7,060 bills have been introduced and not quite 200 were signed into law.

Even if lawmakers do not plan to take 233 votes a day, they have been busy. Senators, for instance, debated 42 bills Wednesday and 43 Thursday. And Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller, DFL-Minneapolis, promises 105 votes on Monday, although senators already have debated most of the bills.

House and Senate leaders say they cannot find a previous session that accomplished more at this point.

Speeding it up

Rural Minnesota will receive $4.8 million to speed up Internet access.

Federal stimulus measures are sending the money to help 80 counties with broadband education, training and technical assistance.

"As a country, we have ensured that every American has access to telephone service and electricity - we must now do the same for broadband internet access," U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said. "This project will ensure that rural communities throughout Minnesota have the training and tools necessary to utilize broadband technology."

Klobuchar said up to 2,500 people may be trained under the grant. About 1,000 refurbished computers will be given to low-income Minnesotans.

T-Paw, Palin, Bachmann

Gov. Tim Pawlenty will join former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann at an April 7 rally.

The Republican Party will sponsor the event and is giving away tickets. More than 7,000 tickets already have been handed out.

The afternoon rally will be at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

Coincidentally, Palin beat Pawlenty out to be Sen. John McCain's running mate in the 2008 presidential election.

Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.