House honors photographer on day when budget picture is out of focus

The Minnesota House is honoring Tom Olmscheid, a photographer for the Minnesota House who is retiring after 35 years of service.

“His job,” Rep. Joe Hoppe said on the House floor, “was to make us look good.”

House members gave Olmscheid a standing ovation for his work.

Olmscheid has been known to take pictures that offer a different perspective than just lawmakers talking on the House floor (you can view one of his photo essays here).

As the Minnesota House was honoring their chief photographer, the state’s budget picture remained out of focus. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and GOP legislative leaders are still far apart on crafting a budget that erases a $5 billion budget deficit. Dayton wants to raise taxes on Minnesota’s top earners. Republicans say they can erase the deficit through spending cuts. The GOP-controlled Legislature already sent a round of budget bills to Dayton that he says will be vetoed.

A few Republicans are calling on him to veto those bills quickly. Rep. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, asked the Speaker of the House whether his Health and Human Services Finance bill was vetoed yet.

“I thought for sure when we sent him the message this last weekend … he would have responded in short order,” Abeler said. “Because there are some things I don’t think he likes about it. But I’m not sure because I haven’t gotten a letter from him about the bill.”

Abeler said he has another bill ready to make another offer to the governor.

“I’m frustrated,” Abeler said. “I don’t know how to proceed.”

Dayton has until midnight Tuesday to take action on the K-12 bill. He has until midnight Wednesday to take action on the other budget bills.

Democrats argued that Abeler and GOP legislative leaders should have passed their bills earlier if they wanted Dayton to take action before the end of the session. They also say Republicans should move forward with another bill

“If you have another bill to put forward, I don’t know how you’re going to get that done,” DFL House Minority Leader Paul Thissen said. “We have less than 14 hours to go here.”

Lawmakers have until midnight tonight to finish their work. Dayton will have to call lawmakers back for a likely special session if a budget deal isn’t reached.

  • danno

    I would be okay if they just adjourned and went home rather than seek out busy work to fill their idle hands and time. Or–they could do something constructive like clean their chambers and their offices and then adjourn and go home.