ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — The dust is settling after Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed the biggest bills of the 2018 Legislative session: the tax and budget bills.

One state lawmaker says that nearly 1,000-page budget bill was too big a lift, literally.

(credit: CBS)

Around the Capitol, they call the massive Supplemental Budget Bill “Omnibus Prime, as in Optimus Prime, the leader of the Autobots in the “Transformers” movies.

The bill is huge: 990 pages, 350,000 words, 11.5 pounds.

It’s a bill so big the Minnesota Senate won’t print it, as it takes too much paper.

“This is a failure of government,” said State Sen. John Marty (D-Roseville).

Marty says this massive budget bill comes very close to violating the Constitution’s single subject requirement, because it includes hundreds of unrelated items.

“I want somebody to tell me what the single subject of all of these things is! It’s garbage!” Marty said. “There are good things in there, but it’s just a heap of garbage! Everything thrown in!”

The vetoed bill includes the Legislature’s hardest work this session:

– Protecting schools against violence.
– Fighting the opioid crisis.
– Protecting Minnesota seniors from abuse.

But it also includes:

– A new law allowing farm trucks to leak sugar beet liquids on the road.
– Posting ‘In God We Trust’ at public schools.
– Making it illegal to drive slower than traffic in the left lane.

Republican leaders who control the Legislature knew it came very late in the 2018 session.

They were hoping the good parts of the mega-bill would convince the governor to sign it.

“Part of it was about running out of time,” said Senate Republican Majority Leader Paul Gazelka. “And part of it was that we wanted a bill that had so many good things in it with a few very minor policy provisions when you look at them that we thought he would sign that.”

Large “omnibus” bills are nothing new at the Minnesota Capitol, no matter which political party.

But this year lawmakers had just 3-and-a-half hours to read the bill before voting.

To put that in context, the bill is nearly as long as the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

“Government is never going to be perfect,” Marty said, “but we’re supposed to try to follow the rules.”

If you’d like to read the omnibus bill yourself, here it is. Just give yourself plenty of time.

Pat Kessler

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