ST. PAUL -- Legislative leaders don't plan to shuffle their agendas to heed Gov. Jesse Ventura's demand that a capital bonding bill get their immediate attention.
But the bonding bill -- which determines what construction projects the state can borrow for -- likely will start taking shape this week anyway. Other legislation dealing with privacy, criminal justice and wolf management also is expected to get significant attention at the Capitol.
By mid-week, House Capital Investment Chairman Jim Knoblach hopes to begin piecing together projects that will go into his committee's bill. All finance committees have forwarded their recommendations -- leaving the panel $2 billion in requests to sort through.
Knoblach, R-St. Cloud, intends to stick to Ventura's $400 million bonding limit, which means there will be plenty of trimming between now and the final product.
''Right now, I'm the most popular person in the Legislature,'' Knoblach said. ''In two weeks, that will probably change.''
Ventura last week told lawmakers he doesn't want to see any significant legislation before the bonding bill -- a timeline many scoffed at.
''The governor says it's the most significant bill of the session. So we're spending a lot of time on it. We're not going to rush things through,'' said Senate State Government Finance Chairman Richard Cohen, DFL-St. Paul.
Likewise, House Speaker Steve Sviggum doubts the bill will reach Ventura's desk anytime soon.
''I don't think that sending the governor the bonding bill first is the most important strategy decision,'' said Sviggum, R-Kenyon. ''By its very nature, the bonding bill comes very late. It just ends up to be a lot of negotiations.''
Instead, Sviggum said the House will put more emphasis on bills to slow data trafficking and legislation to tighten sex-offender and drunken-driving laws.
On the privacy front, lawmakers are discussing ways to slow the spread of medical and financial information. But privacy bills that would have required consumers to give consent before their data was shared have taken hits so far. Many bills have been changed to force consumers to get their names removed from sharing lists.
Those advocating strict data restrictions -- especially DFL Attorney General Mike Hatch -- are beginning to question whether there will be significant changes in privacy laws this year.
''I'd rather have no bill than a weak bill,'' Hatch said.
In the Senate, a prolonged battle could resume over the best way to manage the wolf population. The state must agree on a management plan before the wolf is removed from federal protection.
There's wide disagreement over how to handle the growing wolf population. Environmental groups and cattle ranchers are at odds when it comes to hunting and trapping.
The House agreed last year to allow a public hunting and trapping season the first January after the wolf leaves the endangered species list. The Department of Natural Resources would permit landowners to kill wolves to protect property or defend livestock or pets, but it wants to hold off on hunting and trapping for five years.
The DNR proposal, sponsored by Sen. Gary Laidig, R-Stillwater, drew criticism from all sides. Not even Laidig is sold on the plan.
''It's like the ugly stepson at the family reunion, no one wants to sit next to him,'' Laidig said. But Laidig said the lack of consensus on the DNR plan shows it is a true compromise.
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