State Capitol reorganization

Joe AlbertDuring the past few weeks, we’ve learned more about how things will play out during the upcoming legislative session, which kicks off Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013.

When Republicans held both bodies of the state Legislature ­ remember that short two-year run – they combined their environment policy and finance committees. That meant Rep. Denny McNamara and Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen – the environment committee chairs in their respective chambers – wielded quite a bit of power.

Democrats, as expected, didn’t keep the same committee structure. Rather, they created separate finance and policy committees. So in the Senate, David Tomassoni will be in charge of environment finances, and John Marty will be in charge of policy. In the House, Jean Wagenius is in charge of finance, and David Dill is in charge of policy.

In that structure, though, it’s the chairs of the finance committees who ultimately wield the most power. Why? Because even if there’s a bill that deals with natural resources policy – continuing the wolf hunt, for example – the chair of the finance committee ultimately could decide that committee needs to hear the bill due to some financial implication. And let’s face it – nearly all bills have some sort of financial implication.

It’s going to be very interesting to watch. While it’s true the DFL is now in charge, it’s difficult to imagine two DFLers as politically diverse as Dill and Wagenius, for example. As an illustration, consider this: Of the four in leadership positions, Dill was the only one last session who voted in favor of the Game and Fish Bill, which included the wolf-hunting and trapping season.

Wolf update

Speaking of the wolf season, as of Wednesday afternoon, the wolf kill stood at 62 animals. Thirty-two of those were from the Northwest Zone, where the target harvest is 187; three were from the East-Central Zone, where the target harvest is 10; and 27 were from the Northeast Zone, where the target harvest is 56.

Certainly, hunters and trappers aren’t going gangbusters. But remember, unless a particular zone is closed because the target harvest is reached, the season runs through the end of January. You have to think that both hunters and trappers will be more successful when – or if, I guess – the snow flies.

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