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End Of Session Word: Bizarre

Category: GOP House Republicans
Posted: 05/27/17 14:29

by Dave Mindeman

I have listened to some of the evaluations of the session and special session and I have to wonder if everyone was seeing something different than I was.

This was all truly bizarre. In keeping with all the bizarreness in DC, I guess Minnesota has to do its part.

The final bills are far from good - but to be honest I am not sure, as progressives, we are going to be able to do much better. I could understand Dayton vetoes on all of the bills, but then we would have to go right back into more bizarre stuff with a second special session.

GOP Republicans are saying they got things done. Really? You are going to go with that? You got something done, which is better than nothing, but I would not put this on the wall of honor.

The pre-emption stunt was the worst. Dayton made it as clear as possible that he would veto that measure. (By the way, pre-emption takes away local control of labor practices on wages...even worse, retroactively). But then the House GOP gets the bright idea that they can force the governor to sign it by marrying it to pensions and family leave. That was low - even for them.

That seemed to blow up the session with accusations of violating the agreement. Which, by the way, was a pretty bad piece of paper. Governor Dayton made a big mistake, and violated his own rule, to not have everything agreed upon before calling the special session. I chalk it up to a need to keep things moving once they finally made progress, but it was unwise.

The Democrats got the education funding they wanted, but the House GOP, again, put a bunch of poisonous policy provisions in there. The teachers got railroaded - which happens every time the House is in GOP hands. Tier 1 licensing is now a joke. And I fully agree with their anger. But can we afford to go back and revisit this now? I defer to the governor. But the DFL will need to fix this, WHEN they take back the House.

The Public Safety bill, which should not be controversial, also got poisoned by a policy provision regarded undocumented immigrants access to drivers license. I'm not sure having people drive around without licenses is really good for public safety, but then this is not about public safety.

The Transportation bill will probably get signed...mostly because we are getting desperate for something there. The House GOP tried to squeeze transit, but there is probably enough there for them to stumble along until we get a REAL transportation bill. Let's be clear - the MN GOP are dinosaurs on transit. They get political props from outstate by pretending that transit money takes things away from rural roads - which is blatantly false, coming from a caucus that refuses to properly funds roads in the rural part of the state by not supporting a gas tax. Transit is mostly funded by metro sales taxes and the Met Council - but the House GOP and trainophobe Kurt Daudt meddle with it anyway.

The Health and Human services is again getting reduced resources at a time when more funding is going to be needed because of Federal meddling. MNSure and MNCare are still standing, but WHEN the Democrats take back the House, this needs to get fixes. Somehow it seems to escape the GOP legislators that our population is aging and HHS is never going to stop needed increases year after year.

Now I need to discuss the bonding bill and the bizarre circumstances that surrounded it. I still do not understand exactly what was going on, but the gist of it is that a bike trail provision inserted by the House GOP into the bill caused a total uproar. The provision itself was minor and not worthy of confrontation, but I suspect this had more to do with Daudt's political ambitions than actual policy. The rumor is, that a Daudt donor was particularly interested in this provision. I do not know that for a fact, but I have heard that from people in the Senate. If that is the case, and I can't say I would be surprised, then it is the kind of "pay for play" messiness that makes us all cynical about this process.

Speaking of process, that matter would never have happened if proper transparency was involved. I do not think it is an accident that these sessions always come down to the final hours. The dark of night becomes the way to make policy. Sleep deprived rank and file members have to vote on things they are unable to have time to read and find things that were never agreed upon.

We have a real, genuine problem here. Both sides are guilty of this. Three out of every 4 sessions have special session add ons - and this is just not necessary. It is even detrimental. Daudt tells us the governor is not engaged. Well, Dayton proposed his budget right at the beginning and he stuck to his priorities. The House decided to add policy provisions to the budget process and that seemed to change on the whims of Kurt Daudt. This year has been a House failure on transparency. They may spin it otherwise - well, they absolutely will spin it otherwise, but no matter what they say, there is no sunlight in this process.

We all deserve better.
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