Gov’s GAMC veto survives House override vote

The vote fell just short of the two-thirds majority needed to override Pawlenty’s veto.

by Tara Bannow

Following more than two hours of debate Monday, the Minnesota House of Representatives voted not to override the veto of a bill that would temporarily restore General Assistance Medical Care to more than 30,000 of the poorest Minnesotans. The 86-47 vote fell three votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to override Gov. Tim PawlentyâÄôs veto. House Majority Leader Tony Sertich, DFL-Chisholm, requested successfully that the House be permitted to attempt an override later in the session. House members granted his motion with a 94-39 vote. Before the vote, Sertich said if there was a better solution than the temporary GAMC bill or the autoenrollment of GAMC into MinnesotaCare, it would have come up in the nine months of debate on the topic. âÄúWeâÄôre not talking about saving a program,âÄù he said. âÄúWeâÄôre talking about saving peopleâÄôs lives.âÄù Rep. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, who had previously voted for GAMC reinstatement, voted against the override today. âÄúI want people to understand what this bill does and doesnâÄôt do,âÄù he said. âÄúThis is not the salvation of the people. We can do better.âÄù Abeler said there is still time to craft a better version of the GAMC bill and voted to allow a future vote on the measure. With the release of the fiscal report Tuesday, Rep. Larry Howes, R-Walker, said the state could find itself in a much better financial situation by as much as $400 million. âÄúIf the governor and those working on this cannot come to a conclusion by that time, then youâÄôve got my vote on the override,âÄù he said, âÄúbut not today.âÄù Rep. Steve Gottwalt, R-St. Cloud, agreed. He said heâÄôs concerned the purpose of MondayâÄôs House vote to override the governorâÄôs veto was to create conflict. Instead, he said, reform on the bill is necessary to create a financially sustainable plan. âÄúWeâÄôve decided that today is an emergency, which it is not,âÄù he said. âÄúItâÄôs a date on the calendar, thereâÄôs some notices that are going out to counties and some software changes that are being triggered. But nobodyâÄôs losing coverage today, and itâÄôs wrong to suggest that they are.âÄù The more notices sent to counties about autoenrollment, the more difficult it would be to reverse the decision, said House Assistant Majority Leader Erin Murphy, DFL-St. Paul. Furthermore, putting the bill into law would help the budget situation, she said. The cost of the old program is about $1 million per day between now and April, and the GAMC bill would cut that in half, Murphy said. âÄúI understand that an override vote is a difficult vote,âÄù she said, âÄúbut this is not partisan; this is about us making the right policy for the state of Minnesota.âÄù On Thursday, the DFL-controlled Minnesota Senate voted 45-21 to override PawlentyâÄôs veto of the GAMC bill. The decision to table the bill shows the public that the House is keeping the doors open for finding a long-term solution, Rep. Kory Kath, DFL-Owatonna, said. âÄúI think the tabling was just a mechanism to say we stand by these people, these individuals in the program,âÄù he said. âÄúWeâÄôre saying that weâÄôre still in this for the long haul.âÄù