ST. PAUL (AP) -- With a deadline closing quickly, the rush is on to push bills through legislative committees and make a dent in the pile of proposals each party carried into the election-year session.
''The pressure is mounting,'' said House Health and Human Services Chairman Fran Bradley, R-Rochester. ''You still have 10 gallons worth of stuff trying to get into a one gallon container.''
Bills that don't win the approval of at least one committee by March 3 are considered dead.
Three weeks into the session, few major bills have made it through the House or Senate. Only one bill -- to extend the ice fishing season by nine days -- has received Gov. Jesse Ventura's signature.
Much of the same is expected in the coming week, as committees pore over bills dealing with borrowing for statewide construction projects, consumer privacy, sex offenders and telecommunications.
A fight over the Profile of Learning graduation standard will resume in a House committee and a Senate panel turns its attention to Ventura's proposal to let voters decide whether they want a unicameral Legislature.
A House committee unanimously approved the unicameral proposal last week. But that gives little optimism to Sen. Allan Spear, who is sponsoring the companion bill.
''We have a tougher road in the Senate,'' said Spear, DFL-Minneapolis.
House Majority Leader Tim Pawlenty, R-Eagan, doesn't expect any marquee bills to reach the floor yet. The Senate could weigh in on the controversial appointment of Steve Minn to head the merged Commerce and Public Service departments.
Two Senate committees have urged their colleagues to reject Minn, which would force him out of the commissioner's job. Several lawmakers consider the former Minneapolis City Council member untrustworthy and disrespectful of the Legislature.
The debate could spill over to the House, where a group of lawmakers proposed a resolution in support of Minn. The House could vote on the resolution this week, but the chamber has no real say in the matter; the state constitution gives the Senate sole authority to consider the governor's cabinet choices.
Pawlenty views the resolution as a rebuke to the Senate, which he said has focused on Minn's personality instead of his qualifications.
''It gives him some rhetorical ammunition,'' Pawlenty said.
Although the House approved a measure Thursday that effectively would repeal the profile by making it optional, the education panel still plans to consider bills that would simply change the graduation standard.
The bills would change the project-oriented teaching system to varying degrees. Some would reduce teacher paperwork; others would trim the number of requirements students need to complete for a diploma.
Leaders in the Senate and Children, Families and Learning Commissioner Christine Jax say minor changes would suffice. Rep. Harry Mares, R-White Bear Lake, insists more comprehensive revisions are in order.
''There are some people out there thinking this too shall pass,'' Mares said. ''I don't know if it will''
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