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GOP feels left out

ST. PAUL - Republican Minnesota senators know what it is like to be the minority since they perennially field fewer members than Democrats.

With that comes complaints, and last week those complaints were louder than usual.

Senators engaged in a protracted Thursday debate about a resolution requiring any attempts to amend bills on the Senate floor to stay within spending in the original bill. Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller, DFL-Minneapolis, said that would prevent amendments from passing that spend more money than is available.

However, Republicans said that those in the political minority would be shut out of debate.

"Why don't you just shoot us?" Sen. Tom Neuville, R-Northfield, asked.

"It's a gag rule for anyone offering amendments," added Sen. Michelle Fischbach, R-Paynesville.

Sen. Betsy Wergin, R-Princeton, noted that the rule would prevent her from offering Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty's education funding bill because he wants to spend more than the Senate Democrat's proposal.

The rule proposal was sent back to a committee to resolve questions raised during Thursday's debate.

GOP unhappy

While GOP senators are used to being in the minority, House Republicans regularly are showing their frustration after holding the majority from 1999 until this year.

"A Democrat kangaroo court going on day after day" is how Rep. Torrey Westrom, R-Elbow Lake, described how the House works this year with Democrats in charge.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.