Minnesota House committee to hear marriage equality bill Monday, bill likely to pass


The House Ways and Means Committee will hear a bill to legalize marriage equality on Monday. Previously, the bill had been sent to the House floor for a full vote. The Ways and Means will evaluate how legalizing gay marriage will impact the state budget. Minnesota Public Radio has a copy of the fiscal note attached to the bill.

According to the committee agenda, “F1054 will be taken up when the committee reconvenes after session (or at the call of the chair).”

The vote in committee is an important test for the bill, giving leadership an opportunity to see how some legislators who are on the fence might vote on the House floor.

There are 16 yes votes on the committee: 8 are sponsors of the bill. Reps. Karen Clark, Jim Davnie, Alice Hausman, Frank Hornstein, Phyllis Kahn, Michael Paymar, Steve Simon, and Jean Wagenius. Rep. Debra Hilstrom votes to pass the bill out of the previous committee making for 9 solid votes. Rep. Joe Mullery, Tim Mahoney and Carlos Mariani hail from the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. They are considered solid votes (if they voted no, they’d likely be run out of town). That makes 12 solid votes for the bill.

Rep. Tom Anzelc from the Iron Range is on record that he will support the bill. Rep. Joe Atkins from Inver Grove Heights is also a supporter. Committee chair Lyndon Carlson Sr. of Crystal can also be seen as a supporter. Rep. Thomas Huntley represents a district in Duluth that overwhelmingly defeated the marriage amendment so he’s a probable yes vote. That makes 16 votes, and the committee needs 18 to pass.

Rep. Kathy Brynaert should be seen as a likely yes vote. Her district defeated the amendment at only 40 percent support. And she spoke eloquently against it last year. That brings the total to 17.

To more DFLers on the committee haven’t made their position on the bill public but could be considered potential votes for the bill. Rep. Ann Lenczewski of Bloomington (marriage amendment got 43 percent), and Gene Pelowski of Winona (marriage amendment got 44 percent), will be ones to watch though they come from districts where a yes vote is not particularly risky. If they vote as predicted, the bill should pass the committee with 19 votes.

Two DFLers on the committee have gone on record to say they are swing votes.

Rep. Jeane Poppe seems like a likely supporter. She told the Austin Daily Herald that she’s “open to gay marriage” but wants to hear from her constituents first. She told the Pioneer Press that she is undeclared.

Rep. Paul Marquart said at a townhall that he is undecided. In addition, a Politics in Minnesota survey of lobbyists on the issue found him leaning in the yes column. He told the Pioneer Press that he is undeclared.

One Republican on the committee may have some cover to vote yes. The district represented by Rep. Jenifer Loon of Eden Prairie voted to reject the amendment, only giving it 40 percent last year. She recently said she was reluctant to say which way she would vote. That could be an indication that she may support the bill.

Republican Reps. Mary Liz Holberg, Jim Abeler, Sarah Anderson, Michael Beard, Greg Davids, Matt Dean, Bob Dettmer, Bob Gunther, Tom Hackbarth, Denny McNamara, Bud Nornes, and Kelby Woodard, are all probably voting against the bill. That’s 12 solid votes against (although in politics, anything can happen). Most of these Republicans come from districts that defeated the anti-gay marriage amendment in November.

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