ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Lawmakers scrambled Friday to meet the first big deadline of the 2013 session, the day policy bills had to clear policy committees.
On a day when Minnesota legislators typically head back to their districts, many were locked in long hearings with packed agendas. And while snow flurries swirled around the State Capitol dome, the climate indoors was marked by flurries of paper.
The Senate Judiciary Committee, for example, had 22 bills on the schedule for a session that began at noon Friday. Among those presenting a bill there was Sen. Jeffrey Hayden of Minneapolis.
"Our policy bills if they're going to move on through the process they're going to have to be heard today and passed," Sen. Hayden explained.
But Hayden had much more to do than just try to persuade his colleagues to back a bill that would allow qualified nonviolent narcotics offenders a quicker release from prison.
He also had to bounce in and out of other committees and listen to other lawmakers pitch bills, and then take part in votes on them.
"You've got to hear bills too," he said during a short break in the action.
"I'm in two different committees. In the state government committee, the health and human services committee."
Hayden went from hearing to hearing, reading bills, while ever mindful of the clock to make sure he didn't miss a chance to present his own piece of legislation.
Because some of the hearings were happening simultaneously Hayden relied on legislative aides to remind him which critical bills were getting close to a vote.
"It is tough," Hayden admitted.
"But that's why you people elect us, to come here and get a lot of work done."
Hayden's voice midway through the day was already getting fairly hoarse.
"We're getting a little tired, as you can hear."
That was understandable, considering he'd been burning the midnight oil all week, taking part in conference committee negotiations on the health insurance exchange bill.
Lawmakers have introduced roughly 3,000 bills in the 2013 session, but those that failed to get the green light from a policy committee Friday faced longer odds of making into state law this year.
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