ST. PAUL -- Everyone is likely to get something out of the hundreds of millions of dollars in tax cut and spending bills passed by the Legislature.
But it may take a few days to sort out what that something may be.
Lawmakers galloped through four of the session's most controversial bills in about 15 minutes Wednesday morning to meet a crucial deadline that would allow them to override vetoes by Gov. Jesse Ventura if necessary.
It was a quick pseudo-ending to a messy session that really won't be over until next week.
''I have never seen anything like it in my 18 years in the Legislature,'' said retiring Sen. Ember Reichgott Junge, DFL-New Hope. ''As my last session, it was a memorable ending.''
Bills dealing with millions of dollars for bonding, education and state agency spending got a quick glance rather than a hard look on the floor, although they had been pored over in committee.
Even taxes received little fanfare. Despite its size and scope, debate on the major package of across-the-board income tax cuts generally opposed by DFLers was held to less than 10 seconds of comment from Senate Tax Chairman Doug Johnson.
''This is a $1.86 billion tax cut, and I think you probably should vote for it,'' the Tower Democrat said moments before it was approved 64-1. The House had passed it earlier on a 124-6 vote.
The end was just minutes away when Sen. Linda Berglin, DFL-Minneapolis, received a bonding package from the House. Pages bumped into lawmakers and reporters standing in the aisle as they rushed copies of the bonding bill into the Senate.
Before lawmakers could vote, Berglin needed to ask for a suspension of Joint Rule 2.06, which requires conference committee reports to be available to members for 12 hours before a vote.
''I move that the rules be suspended under whatever number it is,'' she said, eliciting nervous laughter. Senate President Allan Spear promptly provided her the number, and she repeated the question.
The $610 million bonding bill was passed with about 30 seconds to spare before the official 7 a.m. end of the legislative day. Under the Minnesota Constitution, lawmakers needed to conserve time so they could override any vetoes next week.
Legislators have met for 117 legislative days so far in 1999 and 2000. The state constitution limits sessions to 120 legislative days.
The floor sessions lasted 21 hours, the longest meeting in many lawmakers' careers.
''Every session has its different flavor,'' Sviggum said of the sprint finish. ''I think we have a wonderful product on its way to the governor.''
Ventura said he would reserve final judgment on the bills that were passed, but he seemed fairly happy with what he had heard so far. Several of his major initiatives passed, including a vehicle registration fee cut and money for transit.
It's not unusual for the Legislature to work up to the last minute to get bills passed or to save a major initiative to be debated last. But Steven Schier, a political science professor at Carleton College, called passing four mega-bills in the final minutes of the session ''very unusual.''
''There are logjams and there are logjams, but this is of epic proportion,'' he said. ''And it was brought upon by tripartisan government.''
A last-ditch deal was forged in the final days of session that split $525 million in permanent budget surplus money three ways among the DFL-controlled Senate, the Republican-controlled House and Ventura, of the Independence Party.
The Senate spent most of its $175 million on education, natural resources and human services; the House on income tax cuts and the governor on vehicle registration tab cuts.
''It's one of the most bizarre creations I've seen,'' Schier said, adding that a similar scenario could happen again if Ventura doesn't become more personally involved. ''I think you can expect late and sloppy government.''
Had legislators not had to worry about vetoes, they would have had two more days to thoughtfully debate and pass the bills.
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