KSTP-TV is reporting that a special session isn’t imminent. Let’s hope they’re right. Here’s what they’re reporting:

On Thursday, 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS learned a special legislative session may be on hold.

Last week, Gov. Tim Pawlenty said he was hoping to call lawmakers back to St. Paul after Labor Day to deal with the emergency issues that plague the state. But now, that may not happen any time soon.

Pawlenty wanted to call a special session to pass laws on four issues: bridge safety, flood relief, property taxes, and transportation. “Special session are supposed to be called for emergencies. And we have one,” said Pawlenty. But the Governor won’t call a special session unless he has in writing, an agreement from lawmakers that they’ll stick to emergency issues only.

In other words, we’re no closer to a special session than when the bridge collapsed. The thing that GOP activists should take from this is that Gov. Pawlenty is playing his cards well in the sense that he’s painting the DFL into a tiny corner. If they don’t agree to a limited session, something that 80 percent of the state agrees with, then the DFL will be blamed for a special session not being called.

Let’s look at this from a purely political standpoint for a minute. From a political responsibility standpoint, undecided voters are saying to themselves that Gov. Pawlenty is being reasonable by saying that he wants a limited, narrowly focused special session. These same people won’t say that Larry Pogemiller and Maggie Kelliher are being reasonable. That’s because Pogemiller and Kelliher can’t afford to be reasonable. their supporters were upset with them for not getting more of their agenda signed into law. If they don’t push for a more freewheeling special session, their supporters will think that they’ve caved. I can’t imagine that Larry Pogemiller and Maggie Kelliher would enjoy defending themselves against those charges.

Here in St. Cloud, I don’t think that Tarryl Clark is getting hurt the same way that it’s hurting Pogemiller and Kelliher. That isn’t to say that it isn’t affecting her. It’s still hurting her from the standpoint that she’s seen as part of an ineffective leadership team that passed tons of taxes because it didn’t get their priorities straight.

Six months from now, I suspect that we’ll see that Larry Pogemiller and Maggie Kelliher substantially weakened. I also suspect that we’ll see a number of deep divisions emerge within the DFL. The reason why I believe that is because the outstate freshmen that got swept into office last November won’t want to side with Mr. Pogemiller and Ms. Kelliher. I suspect that these freshmen will be getting an earful from their constituents that they don’t want their taxes raised.

In the meantime, each GOP activist should be calling their representatives to have them have a public town hall meeting focusing on our transportation priorities for the next decade. These meeting should also focus on how we’ll pay for these priorities.

If the DFL leadership makes itself irrelevant by refusing to limit itself in a special session and if the GOP House leadership steps forward with a forward-looking plan for meeting our transportation needs, we will have given the voters another reason to vote Republican in 2008.

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