Sex offender funding + House bonding bill = Veto-proof majority


Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s biggest wish list item got added to a $1 billiion state construction borrowing bill the House of Representatives passed Monday evening with a veto-proof majority.

Pawlenty had asked for $89 million to add 400 beds to a Moose Lake sex offender treatment facility in his bonding request, but it wasn’t in the House bill as introduced last week. The Minnesota Senate included a $1 million placeholder for the item in the bill they passed last week by a veto-proof majority.

Pawlenty last week proposed doubling sentences for some sex offenders and said the $89 million Moose Lake bonding proposal was needed because the existing 552-bed facility will be full by 2012 at the rate courts are sending people there.

Inclusion by the House bill’s author, Rep. Alice Hausman, DFL-St. Paul, and Rep. Larry Howes, R-Walker, in whose district Moose Lake lies brought some Republicans on board and gave it a veto-proof majority, too.

However, some Republicans tried unsuccessfully to strip funding for Minneapolis’ Orchestra Hall/Peavey Plaza renovations, St. Paul’s Ordway Center expansion and Asian-Pacific Cultural Center and civic and convention centers in Rochester, St. Cloud and Mankato to keep the bill under $1 billion.

Those veto-proof majorities suggest the likely scenario of a final bill coming back from conference committee that would have too much support for Pawlenty to veto the whole thing. However, on spending bills, Pawlenty has line-item veto authority, so Orchestra Hall, The Ordway and those other projects aren’t out of the woods yet.

Overturning a line-item veto is technically possible, but never happens for many reasons. The impact is so narrow that it’s hard to rally support from unaffected lawmakers even within the DFL, and in a bonding bill, Republicans are looking for “pork” to cut so they won’t come over to your side.