ST. PAUL -- The next move in the House for supporters of a unicameral Legislature will be to ask the State Government Finance Committee to reconsider rejection of the bill.
Rep. Tony Kielkucki, R-Lester Prairie, said he would ask the committee to take another vote on the bill as early as Monday.
The bill faced difficulties Thursday. ''I won't say the single-house movement is dead, it's certainly on life support at the very least,'' said House Speaker Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon and the bill's main sponsor.
Sviggum spoke after a failed attempt to compel the House to pull the bill out of the State Government Finance Committee, which earlier in the day voted 5-5 against advancing the proposal. Later, Kielkucki asked the House to disregard the vote and move the bill to the Ways and Means Committee.
Kielkucki withdrew that motion after more than an hour of criticism from members of both parties. The members were concerned that such a move would set a dangerous precedent. Lawmakers worried about setting aside committee action.
''I don't care what the issue is. Five-to-five. You die,'' said Commerce Chairman Greg Davids, R-Preston. He argued against moving the bill and described himself as ''outraged'' that the procedure was being considered.
House GOP leadership argued that the unicameral bill is unique and so significant that it should be given special consideration. Also, they want to keep alive Ventura's priority proposal.
Ventura sent a letter to members asking that they let voters decide the issue. The bill would allow voters to decide in November whether to go from a two-house to a one-house Legislature with 135 members.
If Kielkucki asks for another committee vote, the key will be Rep. Bruce Anderson, R-Buffalo Township. Anderson spoke against the bill, but was out of the room when the committee voted. He said he would have voted no, but isn't sure how he will vote when the issue comes up again.
Without Anderson's vote, four DFLers and one independent voted against advancing the bill. Five Republicans voted to move it forward.
DFL members and Rep. Doug Reuter, an independent from Owatonna, expressed concern about many aspects of the proposal, from the cost to accountability of elected officials and the lack of specificity in the plan.
Even some Republicans who voted to advance the bill voiced their dislike, such as Rep. Mike Osskopp of Lake City.
''Anyone with more than a second-grade education will be able to figure out this will not save money,'' Osskopp said, countering supporters' claims it would save $5.9 million the first two years.
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