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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Bud Nornes (R)

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Majorities in budget logjam

Friday, May 10, 2013

Dear Neighbor,


The clock is ticking down on the 2013 session, yet the House and Senate majorities do not appear to be anywhere close to producing a finished budget.


Joint conference committees comprised of House and Senate members have been assembled to prepare bills for final passage. I was appointed to the group responsible for resolving differences between House and Senate versions of the higher education budget.


Not a single meeting has taken place.


Democrats say there will be no special session this year, but an extraordinary amount of work remains before we are scheduled to adjourn May 20.


Disappointingly, an amendment I successfully offered to a transportation bill that would increase speed limits on state highways from 55 mph to 60 mph was stripped by a conference committee. This provision also was in the Senate companion bill. It is rather concerning when a mere handful of conference committee members override the actions of our 208-member Legislature.


As we await for final budget bills, House Democrats continue to pass bills that would raise our taxes, raise our electrical rates, harm hospitals – and not help nursing homes – and the list goes on. The governor seems more concerned about the Vikings, right down to the punting situation, than resolving our budget.


Here is a look at three bills the House majority led to passage this week:



House Democrats passed a bill this week including numerous mandates which would increase energy bills for almost all hardworking Minnesota homeowners and apartment residents. The bill requires a 40-percent renewable energy standard by 2030 for investor-owned utility companies. This includes a 4-percent solar mandate, with a goal of 10-percent. Owners of solar devices would receive subsidies, meaning even low-income citizens would be contributing to people who can afford this technology.



This week, the House approved legislation that redefines lawful marriage as a civil contract from being between a man and a woman to between any two persons. The bill now heads to the Minnesota Senate for a floor vote on Monday.


From the last election, we saw this is an issue that divides Minnesota. This is another instance of Democrats overreaching and potentially jeopardizing religious liberty. With just 11 days left until session adjournment, we should be focused on issues that unite us like growing jobs and balancing the budget.


Conservative blogger Harold Hamilton had much to say today regarding his perceived dysfunction exhibited by House and Senate majorities, along with the languishing budget work. Below are his thoughts on those issues and more.









May 10, 2013


In This Issue:

1. DFL Dysfunction.

2. What About the Budget?

3. Recall Follies.


Man, some dysfunction is creeping into the management of the Capitol right about now.

We're sitting a mere ten days from the constitutionally mandated adjournment date for the 2013 legislative session and the DFL legislative majorities and the governor still can't agree on how much to raise taxes and thus give instructions to legislative committees on how much of your moolah they have to spend in crafting the constituent pieces of the state budget.

All that while, we seem to have found the time for gay marriage, solar power mandates, forced unionization of private businesses, and a resolution for genocides awareness. Beware genocide. It's a bad thing. Really. Glad state government is there to tell us about it.

But all is not well in the DFL camp.

We've seen the DFL tax bill fail in the Senate, only to be resurrected. Same with the forced collectivization of daycare providers. It died in the Senate Finance Committee, only to be resurrected as, once again, some Democrats had a road-to-Damascus conversion after voting "no."

Now the bill heads to the Senate floor without having been positively recommended by ANY committee. Instead, the bills passed with a the lukewarm Judas kiss of a being passed "without recommendation" as opposed to "recommended to pass," which is a committee's seal of approval.

Talk about a bad bill.

And then there was the DFL transportation bill in the Senate. The chair of the committee offered up a taxapalooza bill that was quickly countered by a DFL amendment to strip all the tax increases out. Chaos ensued, the majority leader was called in to restore discipline on the Bounty, and the stripped down bill was passed, with all mutineers reportedly thrown in the brig.

Over in the House, a bill was brought forward to have Minnesota throw its approval to making presidential elections by mob rule, er, popular vote (Watchdog opposed).

Here again, things went haywire as the bill was defeated, making for an embarrassment for the DFL author.

Warp speed, Mr. Sulu has been replaced with ice berg dead ahead!

Can the DFL get out of Saint Paul in orderly fashion?

That's an open question as we head down the home stretch.


As readers well know, the Watchdog is dedicated to capitalism and economic issues. We simply don't address social issues, except in a tangential way.

The issue of gay marriage is one of those issues. We have loyal readers on both sides of the issue who happen to share a mutual passion for free market capitalism.

Thus, we do not take a position on that particular issue.

But we can't help but note some real hypocrisy here regarding the issue, starting with the DFL majority.

For better or worse, the House GOP majority in 2011 decided to pursue a constitutional amendment to prohibit gay marriage.

At that time, the DFL minority raised a hue and cry that Republicans were pursuing the issue at the expense of important economic issues.

The media jumped right in to parrot this talking point.

Well, excuse us. The 2013 legislative session ends on May 20 and the state's budget is still unresolved, even though the DFL owns the House, the Senate and the governor's office.

The economy hobbles along and the issue du jure is gay marriage.

How can we pursue divisive social issues when the budget, the economy and jobs deserve attention, said the DFL in 2011 as the media chimed in as well.

So what's different about 2013?

The only difference here is that it's the DFL in charge and the issue now one of approving gay marriage, which is where most of the mainstream media stands.

The other aspect of thy hypocrisy is the talk of how respectful the debate over the issue was in the House Thursday afternoon.

Rep. Karen Clark, the chief author of the gay marriage bill, marveled at the respectful debate, knowing full well the bill would pass.

The respectful and thoughtful debate was indeed a good thing.

But that tone stands in stark contrast to Rep. Clark and her filibuster of the Defense of Marriage Act in the House as well as her standing in the middle of Governor Pawlenty's State of the State Address and turning her back to the governor.

What if a Republican had filibustered this bill? What if Rep. Gruenhagen or Rep. Scott had done that?

It certainly wouldn't be portrayed as a Profile in Courage by the media.

And what if Rep. Scott had stood up in the middle of a Mark Dayton State of the State and turned her back to the governor?

We know how that would have been portrayed.

It looks like respect goes one way, and the media wouldn't have it any other way.


With gay marriage passing the Minnesota House and poised to pass the Senate, some are arguing for recalling legislators who voted in favor of the bill.

How about not doing that.

This viewpoint has nothing to do with the issue and everything to do with not acting stupid and thus looking stupid in the eyes of the very voters we will need in 2014.

A recall election? Really?

There are just a few hurdles to jump to recall a legislator.

Here's the thumbnail sketch of the 18 steps needed for recall, highlighting some of them:

First, petitioners must demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence that a legislator engaged in "malfeasance" "nonfeasance" or a "serious crime." Under even the most liberal definitions of the law, supporting a bill to recognize homosexual unions does not constitute "malfeasance" "nonfeasance" or a "serious crime."

Malfeasance means intentionally doing something unlawful or wrong while

performing duties of the office; the act must be substantially outside of the

scope of duties and substantially infringe upon another's rights.


Nonfeasance means intentionally and repeatedly not performing required

duties of the office.


Serious crime means a crime that is a gross misdemeanor and involves

assault, intentional injury, threat of injury, dishonesty, stalking, aggravated

driving while intoxicated, coercion, obstruction of justice, or the sale or

possession of controlled substances. Serious crime also means a

misdemeanor crime that involves assault, intentional injury or threat of

injury, dishonesty, coercion, obstruction of justice, or the sale or possession

automatically removed from office, so a felony conviction is not specified

as grounds for recall.

Even if the petitioner convinces the Chief Justice of the MN Supreme Court, a special master and the entire state Supreme Court that there was malfeasance, nonfeasance or a serious crime, then the petitioner must collect signatures within the district equal to 25% of the number voting for that office in the last election. Even in a House district, that's many thousands of votes.

Even after all that, you have to run a candidate and win the election, kicking out the incumbent in a special election.

Just a wee bit impractical.

And let's face facts here. The pro gay marriage forces absolutely whupped the other side in terms of money, organization, and enthusiasm in 2010.

Be careful of wishing to take on those guys in a special election.

Let's get practical here. For those who are upset with their legislator for supporting gay marriage, take it up in the proper forum, either at the endorsing convention and/or the general election.

For now, let's not give the media a story about crazy conservatives. They're only too happy to oblige.

Harold Hamilton
The Minnesota Watchdog

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