It was another busy week at the Capitol with our first big floor debates of the session.
On Monday, the House DFL leadership introduced the rules that govern how the House operates. The most controversial part of this proposal is the requirement that all amendments must be filed 24 hours before the bill is up for possible debate. Because the majority caucus controls the agenda, this rule inherently puts the minority caucus at a disadvantage. In essence, it silences the minority from being able to put forward amendments during debate. This is both bad policy and a bad precedent to set. If a member is not part of a committee that would hear this bill, their first opportunity to review it typically comes when it comes to the House floor. Now, because of this rule, if a member sees a flaw in the bill, he or she would have no opportunity to fix it. I also believe that silencing the minority caucus only hinders the spirit of bipartisan cooperation. Countless citizens’ voices will not be heard now that the minority caucus – which represents 45% of the state – cannot offer amendments on the floor.
Yesterday, the House debated approval of five public employee contracts and two compensation plans that covers around 35,000 workers. The contracts grant a two percent pay increase and step increases for eligible employees. I had some concerns about these contracts after the DFL chairman of one of the committees overseeing these contracts literally said we were supposed to “rubber stamp” them and pass them without debate. While I believe our state employees are hard working people, we cannot afford pay increases while most Minnesotans are seeing reductions in their take-home pay. I supported an amendment that would require state employees – including legislators like myself – to pay ten percent of their health insurance premiums. Unfortunately, the amendment was rejected and the contracts were approved by the House.
One of the more alarming things I saw this week was an incident during Civil Law Committee where I serve as the lead Republican member. During the testimony on what’s known as the “Puppy Mills” bill, the DFL chairman of the committee cut short the testimony of those who were opposed to the bill after giving ample time to those who spoke in favor of it and subsequently forced a vote on the bill. When citizens take time out of their day to come to the Capitol to share their thoughts and concerns on legislation, we should afford them the respect of hearing what they have to say regardless of whether we agree. I appreciate the fact that the chairman later apologized on the House floor for what occurred, but I think the citizens who came to testify are the ones who truly deserve the apology.
I’m proud to announce I’m co-authoring a bill that would add a third lane on Highway 10 between Hansen Boulevard and Lake Boulevard. Making sure our community has safe roads that are able to meet the needs of our citizens and businesses is a top priority for me
Recently, I met with Anoka County Commissioner Robyn West. Robyn does a terrific job for our community and I always appreciate her input given the fact that state policies are often enacted through the county level. It’s important for me to hear about how what we do in St. Paul affects our local communities.
Also, last Friday, I was honored to read to two 3rd grade classes at Andover Elementary. One student there asked if I was a Republican or a Dominican!! Cute. Today, I served root beer floats and read to a 4th grade class at Legacy Christian Academy.
I am always interested in your feedback. Please feel free to contact me by e-mail at Rep.Peggy.Scott@House.MN or contact my office at 651-296-4231. You can also send me mail to my office address: 201 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155.