Minn. Legislature, Governor Still Face Core Disputes on Insurance Issues

Some obstacles to finishing the 2007 Minnesota legislative session on time slid away last week, although key elements of the state budget were still in flux.

Democrats bowed to Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s wishes on two items that drew explicit veto threats, a so-called “good faith” insurance provision in a $2 billion crime bill and a plan to offer health insurance to the unmarried domestic partners of state employees in a state agency bill.

The insurance provision came out in a deal between the House, Senate and Pawlenty. In exchange, the Republican governor promised to sign the public safety budget bill and negotiate with lawmakers on a stand-alone insurance bill, spokesman Brian McClung said.

“It had to come out for him to sign that bill,” said McClung, who called the deal “a really positive development.”

The agreement came after an 82-52 House vote for the crime bill, including the insurance provision, which would have made it easier for consumers to sue insurance companies over denied or delayed claims. After that, instead of voting on the bill as expected, the Senate recessed for hours while leaders made a flurry of phone calls and met behind closed doors.