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No GAMC veto override

Published (3/4/2010)
By Lauren Radomski
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House Democrats unsuccessfully attempted to override the governor’s veto of controversial health care legislation before tabling the subject March 1.

A motion to override Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s veto of HF2680/ SF2168* failed 87-46 following more than two hours of floor debate. The legislation would create a 16-month version of General Assistance Medical Care, the state health care program serving 30,000 to 35,000 low-income Minnesotans monthly. Pawlenty vetoed the legislation Feb. 18 in favor of transitioning GAMC enrollees into MinnesotaCare, a process scheduled to begin in early March. GAMC coverage would end March 31.

Rep. Erin Murphy (DFL-St. Paul), who sponsors the legislation with Sen. Linda Berglin (DFL-Mpls), said weekend discussions involving House leadership and the governor’s staff resulted in a “good conceptual conversation,” but little give from Pawlenty officials. She made a motion to override the governor’s veto, saying the House needed to take immediate action to keep Pawlenty’s auto-enrollment proposal from becoming the final policy.

Murphy said the GAMC legislation would cover more people at a lower cost than the governor’s proposal. She estimates that only 3,300 of the current GAMC enrollees will be able to pay the MinnesotaCare premiums and manage the paperwork past their first renewal period.

Republicans accused Democrats of jeopardizing further negotiations with the governor by attempting the override.

“Instead of taking the time to do this right, we’ve decided that today is an emergency, which it’s not,” said Rep. Steve Gottwalt (R-St. Cloud). “…We have time to do this right.”

Some of the 38 Republicans who voted for the legislation Feb. 18 said they believed a conference committee would address some of the provisions they didn’t like before the bill arrived on the governor’s desk. That didn’t happen.

Following the vote, Murphy said legislators were not considering legal action as a way of continuing GAMC or halting the auto-enrollment process, though outside organizations may. Pawlenty met with House Republicans to thank them for their support and invited key legislators from both parties to a meeting March 2. A Pawlenty spokesperson said the governor’s staff was working with Rep. Matt Dean (R-Dellwood) and the Department of Human Services to come up with a compromise.

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