ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The final day of the 2013 legislative session was a sprint to end a marathon.
A number of the budget bills were passed on the weekend, but the house was ready to take up a very divisive issue before calling it quits for the year.
House members, led by the DFL majority, passed a measure giving child care and personal attendant care workers the right to unionize. A 2-hour debate ended in a very vocal reaction outside the House chambers doors, from both sides of the issue.
"It's absolutely amazing. It's about time we got the rights and there's a long road ahead of us so we need to get out there and get our 50-plus percent, and when that happens we can show them that in fact we do want to be a part of this union," Child Care Provider Karla Stapanski said.
"I'm extremely disappointed. Today's show on the house floor proves to the state of Minnesota that this legislature is bought and paid for by AFSCME and the SEIU. This battle has just begun," said Republican lawmaker Mary Franson, of Alexandria.
While that bill was being put through the House, DFL Rep. Ryan Winkler, of Golden Valley, was shuttling between the floor and a committee room trying to revive the minimum wage increase. Many believed the bill was dead.
"We can have some negotiating behind-the-scenes and see what happens but as the rest of the budget bills are passed and the major issues are taken care of, we're down to the last few things. I expect that minimum wage will be one of these bills we address (Monday) evening," Rep. Winkler said.
Rep. Jenifer Loon, a Republican from Eden Prairie, says the debate on wages has come and gone.
"I would argue that the big tax bill passed through this legislature last night. Some of the changes in health care that have been made, we're adding a lot on the bottom line of businesses substantially, and this is just one more thing," Loon explained.
We did find universal agreement from both sides of the political aisle as the final day started to wind down. Lawmakers were at the end of a long session, a long week, and a long day.
"Today will be another long day. The days and the hours run together, but we're in the home stretch so we're wrapping up pretty quick," said DFL Rep. Carly Melin, of Hibbing.
"It's grueling and you stay on the move and you're trying to facilitate getting the work done, but it's exciting and exhilarating too," concluded Republican Senator Dave Thompson, of Lakeville.
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