House discussion of health care bill starts, stops

Legislation to enact a centerpiece of the federal health care overhaul is getting a bumpy ride in the Minnesota House.

The state House is scheduled to resume debate on landmark insurance legislation at 9:30 p.m. tonight.

The chamber is set to vote on a conference committee's proposed changes to legislation enacting the so-called insurance exchange -- a new online marketplace that more than a million Minnesotans will use to obtain health care coverage. The conference committee stripped provisions the House had passed earlier placing restrictions on abortion coverage.

The chamber was initially scheduled to take up the bill at 8 p.m. Thursday, then suspended certain requirements and started debate at 4 p.m. instead.

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After an hour and a half, DFL leaders called for a recess to allow committee work to proceed with important deadlines looming. But the move drew GOP criticism that the DFL was trying to make it harder for Minnesotans to observe the discussion. The debate had been notable for a sequence of parliamentary scuffles and irregularities.

Earlier in the day, Gov. Mark Dayton said he was pleased with the committee's changes to settle differences between the House and Senate bills.

"I've not seen it, I've heard about it. But I understand they worked out some reasonable compromises and from what I know, everything I know, I will sign it, yes," Dayton said.

Before the governor can sign the bill into law, the House and Senate must approve the committee's changes.