ST. PAUL -- Gov. Jesse Ventura makes his case for a unicameral legislature Monday in front of a joint House-Senate panel, kicking off the legislative campaign to put the issue on the ballot.
Ventura, House Speaker Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon, and Senate President Allan Spear, DFL-Minneapolis, will present the case for eliminating one house of the Legislature at a hearing Monday evening.
House Government Operations Chairman Jim Rhodes, R-St. Louis Park, expects a receptive audience for the governor. ''He will be extended every courtesy,'' Rhodes said.
The appearance will come just days after a Ventura appointee, Commerce Commissioner Steve Minn, saw his appointment unceremoniously and resoundingly rejected by a Senate panel. Ventura fired back at lawmakers involved, portending a potentially acrimonious session.
Rhodes hopes for a warmer reception from his committee members. ''I'm going to try to encourage them to be respectful of the office,'' Rhodes said.
That notwithstanding, a tight vote on the issue could come in Rhodes' committee by week's end. Some members are not at all interested in putting the issue of a unicameral legislature before the voters in November.
Rep. Phil Krinkie, R-Shoreview, is among them. ''I'm ready for another rumble with the governor,'' Krinkie said Friday. only half in jest.
He may get the chance.
If the bill survives Rhodes' committee, it would go to the Rules Committee. What happens next could depend on end-of-session negotiations on other issues such as tax cuts.
From there, the bill could go to the House floor for a vote, but Krinkie, the chairman of the State Government Finance Committee, believes his panel should look at the bill. So does House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Bishop, R-Rochester. Both oppose the bill.
''What do strong opponents in chair positions do?'' Krinkie asked.
What they can do is refuse to consider the bill, which could kill it.
Ventura argues a unicameral system would make government more accountable and efficient, that two chambers do the same work, comparing it to a wasteful business.
Krinkie, a business owner, doesn't buy the comparison.
''A small business is essentially a dictatorship,'' Krinkie said.
Rhodes said his committee will take amendments and debate the bill Wednesday and Friday and possibly the following week if necessary. House leadership supports the concept of a unicameral system, but also a go-slow approach to the bill.
''We don't want to rush for the sake of rushing,'' said House Majority Leader Tim Pawlenty, R-Eagan.
In other expected action, the Education Policy Committee on Tuesday will take a look at a controversial 10th-grade writing test.
At issue is what to do with the tests, part of the state's graduation requirements. One lawmaker wants to destroy them and issue new ones.
On the test, students were asked to write about one thing they would like to change about themselves and why. Some lawmakers view the question as too negative and too personal.
Most of the early work in both chambers will be in committees. But in the Senate, a tax rebate proposal could come up for a floor vote as early as Thursday.
Senate Transportation Budget Division members will see a first when Sen. Dean Johnson, DFL-Willmar, takes the gavel as a committee chairman for the first time in his career.
After 22 years as a lawmaker, the former Republican says he's ready to lead a committee.
''I'm going to scrub up real good just like going to the junior prom,'' he said of the momentous day.
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