Classroom funding bill lacking votes

ST. PAUL -- A key lawmaker and Gov. Tim Pawlenty acknowledged Friday that the governor's main education initiative of the 2006 legislative session doesn't have enough support to pass.

ST. PAUL -- A key lawmaker and Gov. Tim Pawlenty acknowledged Friday that the governor's main education initiative of the 2006 legislative session doesn't have enough support to pass.

Pawlenty wants to require that schools spend 70 percent of their money on classroom expenses, but House Speaker Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon, said there aren't enough votes to get it to the governor's desk. Pawlenty himself also admitted to that.

Democrats say they support directing education money to the classroom, but don't want a state mandate. Some House Republicans also oppose it. Rep. Larry Howes, R-Walker, said it takes away local control.

"I won't vote for it," Howes said. "Walker High School can decide, not me."

Sviggum said he will still give the bill - sponsored by Republican Karen Klinzing of Woodbury - a vote. That could happen next week.


Session flies

The Legislature is expected to continue its fast-paced schedule next week.

Sviggum said the full House could vote on revisions to state eminent domain and immigration laws. The House also could vote Wednesday on a package of benefits for military veterans.

Senate committees will take up eminent domain and veterans affairs bills in committee early in the week. Senators on Thursday may face a floor vote on a bill that would ban protests at funerals. The House approved a similar ban Thursday.

Top lawmakers likely will be absent Wednesday and Thursday. Sviggum said he plans to travel with Pawlenty to Mississippi's Camp Shelby to send off 2,600 Minnesota National Guard troops being deployed to Iraq.

Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson also plans to make the trip. The Willmar DFLer is a retiring National Guard chaplain.

Weeds plentiful

Visitors to the State Capitol this week learned that parts of northwestern Minnesota are overrun with Canada thistle.


"A lot of farmers in area are really concerned about weeds," Concordia College student Natalie Hanson said.

Hanson and fellow student Amy Ravenhorst were joined by Professor Greg Hoch at a display in the Capitol Rotunda showing that even small colleges can conduct valuable research.

Students hunted weeds in four townships and found the Canada thistle by far the most common invasive plant. Other kinds of thistle and leafy spurge also were found.

"They just take over all the native species that are there," Ravenhorst said about the weeds.

Horst said too many people think only big schools like the University of Minnesota conduct research. The Minnesota Private College Council set up 11 displays to show legislators that small schools also do research.

Military bill introduced

Veterans and current members of the military would benefit from several proposals under consideration by legislators.

Sen. Jim Vickerman, DFL-Tracy, introduced a package that would


-- Increase funding for the State Soldiers Assistance Program.

-- Create a veterans benefits Web site.

-- Fund training for county veteran services officers.

-- Create veteran assistance offices on college campuses.

-- Provide tax exemptions for military retirement pay.

Townships seek break

Townships would not be required to provide voting equipment for the disabled under a bill co-authored by Sen. Cal Larson, R-Fergus Falls.

"I think we all understand the importance of providing ballot access for people with disabilities, and we've always tried to do a good job of that in Minnesota," Larson said. "At the same time, I recognize the costs involved with providing the disability equipment might be significant for townships in relation to the value of the benefit provided for very small local elections."


Accessible equipment would be required for federal, state and other elections.

Bill to help immigrants

Immigrants would have more education opportunities and a better chance to land jobs, Senate Democrats said about legislation they introduced.

The package would:

-- Provide more money to teach English.

-- Boost funding for adult education classes for immigrants.

-- Allow even children of illegal immigrants equal access to state colleges and universities, and pay for that education.

-- Provide tax credits to businesses to provide education to immigrants.

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