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To Rep. Anna Wills - You Are Supposed To Represent The Zoo

Category: GOP House Republicans
Posted: 05/27/16 15:34

by Dave Mindeman

Rep. Anna Wills is the House rep for Apple Valley and Rosemount. In her district is the Apple Valley Zoo - an asset for the city which brings in a large number of visitors and business. It is a state operated facility and depends on state bonding to maintain it.

There is always a huge disparity in funding for the Zoo regarding what comes out of the House bonding bill as compared to the Senate bill. Sen. Greg Clausen represents Apple Valley and Rosemount and under his representation, the Zoo has almost always met or come close to the requests it makes in the bonding bill.

This year the Zoo was requesting in the neighborhood of $23 or 24 million. The Senate bonding allocated about $21 million. The Senate bill got only 1 Republican vote - it needed 2 and failed to pass. But at least the Senate majority values the Zoo.

In the House, the Zoo is always an afterthought. The allocation in their original bill and in the final bill which they tried to slap through in the final hours had a total allocation for the Zoo of $4 million.

$4 million!

It was a complete slap in the face. In Rep. Anna Wills legislative update, she chastises the Senate, regarding bonding, this way:

I'm really disappointed that Senate Democrats decided to play a political game, and go back on an agreement that would have benefited so many communities across the state in significant ways. They chose funding for SouthWest Light Rail over a nearly $700 million investment in transportation infrastructure. It's unfortunate that Senate leadership chose to back Minnesotans into a corner over light rail.

That is the standard excuse for the House these days. No mention of the bill being brought to the floor in the final half hour. No mention of the language not being released until it was already being discussed. No mention of the Speaker trying to ram it through without amendment discussion. No, the talking point is that it was the Senate's fault.

But the real disappointment is the way Rep. Wills talks about the Zoo allocation....

On Sunday evening, we passed a Bonding bill with $696.5 million in funding for roads and bridges on a bipartisan vote of 91 to 39. Also included was $4 million in asset preservation for the Minnesota Zoo.

She fails to mention that this was woefully inadequate. That it is one of the lowest allocations in recent times. That it gives the Zoo no opportunity to act on their expansion projects.

I recently pointed this out with a Twitter posting....and Rep. Wills actually answered it. She says the $4 million was "better than zero".

Yeah, it is a number which is higher than zero. This is a true statement. But it is also not even close to the Senate allocation of $21 million. An amount that Sen. Clausen pushed in his caucus. That he was willing to fight for.

What does Rep. Wills fight for? I guess she fights for "better than zero".
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Speaker Daudt And A Blame Game Short On Facts

Category: GOP House Republicans
Posted: 05/26/16 16:01

by Dave Mindeman

Rep. Daudt has to be called on this....

"A group of Senate Democrats stood in the way of funding for critical road and bridge infrastructure like Highway 12 earlier this week, and it's time to fix their mistake," said Speaker Kurt Daudt.

Boy, you have to seriously revise events to come up with that kind of blame game. That bill passed the Senate as amended and came to the House floor before midnight - but Speaker Daudt had adjourned...Sine Die.

That was not the Senate's fault. And I am one of those who is perfectly willing to call out the Senate when needed. I did last year and I would this year if it was warranted.

But this was a House GOP failure. Heck, this wasn't even a real House failure - it was a Daudt failure. He wouldn't even back his own transportation chair (Rep. Tim Kelly) who proposed a compromise bill that Democrats were willing to support.

To stand at Highway 12 and call out Democrats for lack of funding - that is ludicrous.

Daudt won't cooperate on transit. We get that. But the Democrats were willing to keep transit out of the general fund. It would be paid for by the seven counties. They came to the table with a viable option and Daudt rejected it, played games with it, and doomed transportation because of it.

Everyone agrees to fund Highway 12 - but transportation is not about picking winners and losers...it's about a package for the state as a whole.

Speaker Daudt better figure that one out soon. Gov. Dayton holds the cards now.
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Speaker Daudt Likes Brinksmanship - Sometimes You Get Burned

Category: GOP House Republicans
Posted: 05/25/16 23:48

by Dave Mindeman

I have been watching the aftermath of that ridiculous legislative end game and let me give you some extra thoughts.

Kurt Daudt likes to play brinksmanship. When you look at how the session ended, there are a couple of key points. First, Daudt held off bringing the bonding bill to the floor until there was little time left. He wanted the bill in and out cleanly, but when the House Democrats refused to vote until they were given an opportunity to at least look at the bill and offer potential amendments, Daudt had no choice but to comply. Still, that delay was minimal and Daudt sent it over to the Senate with a few minutes to spare.

But that brings us to the second key point. As soon as the bonding bill was on its way, Daudt went to adjournment...even though there was still about 6 minutes left before midnight. This action gives credence to Sen. Bakk's claim that the bonding directive (which added no dollars to the bill) had been agreed to but Daudt wanted to kill it anyway. He sent the bill to the Senate, minus the transit piece, so that the Senate would be confronted with having to pass the bill or let it die.

The Senate, for their part, managed to get the Latz amendment on the bill with a few minutes to spare - but Daudt had already adjourned, having no intention of even considering that possibility.

Daudt was trying to play a power game - but he isn't really very good at it. It was a clumsy finish and his denials about not getting Bakk's text message about the amendment at the end was clearly a CYA excuse.

It looks even worse to see Daudt and his cohorts travel up to Wayzata and give us their "concern" about the safety of Highway 12 travelers. If that safety was such a big concern, then why risk that safety on a last minute session end game?

Daudt has been playing election year politics all through this session. The big bills were victims of awkward manipulation. House Democrats were left out of the mix - even on the bonding bill which required some of their votes - and Daudt forced the negotiations into closed door meetings where he seemed to think he could manipulate things like he did last year with those dead of night additions to the budget.

Daudt hasn't been in the legislature all that long. We forget that he was first elected in 2010 and is only 42 years old.

But he has developed a penchant for risk. Letting his credit cards slide into default is kind of a metaphor for how he likes to end these legislative sessions.....

leave everything go till the very last moment and hope you get bailed out.
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