Why did House bother to pass bill?

The Minnesota House of Representatives voted Monday to increase the state’s gas tax by 20 cents per gallon, or 70 percent from its current 28.5 cents.

Don’t worry. This tax will never be enacted.

The vote in the House was along party lines, 74-58. Democrats control the House and passed the bill in response to a plan put forward by Gov. Tim Walz, also a Democrat. The 20-cent hike is his idea.

But Republicans who control the Minnesota Senate say no way. Not on their watch. They know the hike is too steep and that it would hit low- and middle-income Minnesotans the hardest.

Expect more of this divide on the issues to play out over the next few weeks as the two sides move toward the May 20 adjournment of the Legislature. Somehow, despite the great divide on the issues, the two parties need to come up with spending plans, including for transportation.

We cannot help but observe that it is difficult to imagine why House Democrats wanted to have anything to do with the governor’s gas tax proposal. Clearly, the Senate was not going to go along, a fact that actually provided them cover to avoid this issue. Instead they chose to embrace an astonishingly unpopular and unsound idea. What does that say for their political savvy, or even their ability to govern?

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