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Hockey/Education bill heads to governor

ST. PAUL - Minnesota Rep. Bud Heidgerken thinks legislative education negotiators had an ulterior motive to make hockey the state sport.

"This looks like a political puck to get the governor's support," the Freeport Republican said of Gov. Tim Pawlenty, an avid hockey fan.

"Every sport is important," said Heidgerken, a long-time wrestling coach.

Heidgerken said the area he serves, with 13 school districts, has just one high school hockey team.

Another former wrestling coach, one of about a half-dozen in the House, was the only Democrat to vote against the education bill Thursday night.

"As a former wrestling coach there was no way I could vote for hockey for the state sport," said Rep. Paul Marquart, DFL-Dilworth.

The provision was included in an education policy bill bound for Pawlenty's desk. The governor said he does not like some of the bill's provisions, hinting that he might veto the measure.

The House passed the bill 82-49 after senators backed it earlier in the day 45-20. Gov. Tim Pawlenty said on Thursday that he does not like some parts of the bill, hinting he may veto it, but he did not address the hockey issue.

During House debate, hockey talk far outweighed other provisions in the bill, which was written in recent days by House and Senate negotiators who put the two chambers' bills together.

The bill adds information to existing school report cards already produced by the state. It also requires students to attend school until they turn 18 or graduate. And it requires one semester of physical education before a student can graduate from high school.

The measure does not include a controversial provision to require sex education in schools.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.