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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Michael Nelson (DFL)

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Capitol Update — February 7, 2011

Monday, February 7, 2011
As the legislative session rolls along, a disturbing trend has begun to take shape: Republican lawmakers continuing to recklessly rush bills through the legislature. Last week, I talked about the rushing of HF 130, the GOP Phase 1 budget bill. This bill hop scotched through the committee process, skipping the Property Tax Division even though it raises property taxes by almost $400 million, and skipping the State Government Operations Committee while making troubling changes to government. Republicans also didn’t even know all the effects in the provisions of the bill, and didn’t know if the public employee wage freeze would apply to the University of Minnesota or our MnSCU system. Due to the hop scotching of the committee process, public input and testimony was deeply limited as well. The GOP simply doesn’t seem to understand the proper process for passing a bill through the legislature. The process was not designed to be incredibly quick; it was designed to be thorough and deliberate to ensure public input was heard and there were no unintended consequences from the provisions of the bills. This troubling trend has continued with other Republican bills and seems set to continue with bills in the future. HF 1, a bill that would make some broad changes to environmental permitting, was supposed to be heard and voted on the House floor on Thursday. But, due to error in process and pressures for more testimony, the bill went back to the committee process. This apparent systematic disregard for the processes of the House will lead to poorly scrutinized legislation with unintended consequences that could potentially cost us millions of dollars to correct years later. This is certainly not to say that every bill that becomes law is perfect; it’s common for laws to be revised as their implemented. Sometimes provisions aren’t as effective as originally thought, or sometimes they place an unintended burden on a specific group, but without proper scrutiny and input from the public, the chances of these unintended consequences — and their severity — increases exponentially. Furthermore, despite their campaign promises to rein in spending, many of their bills call for millions in brand new spending. Their plan to cut taxes for big corporations would add another $200 million to our already huge deficit and their voter identification bill would cost $40 million to set up the system, while adding dozens of pages in new regulations — another broken GOP campaign promise — to try and solve a problem that doesn’t exist. Minnesota is facing some daunting challenges and our proposed solutions to these problems need to be reviewed, scrutinized and discussed, by legislators and by the public. And we have to avoid spending money on “problems" that aren’t real issues — we have enough actual problems to solve. As always, please feel free to send me your suggestions, questions, comments or concerns. You can reach me by phone at (651) 296-3751, by email at rep.michael.nelson@house.mn, or by sending mail to my office: 229 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155 Michael Nelson State Representative District 46A