It already looks like this could be called the Session of Broken Promises under the new Democrat House majority.
It started the very first day when Democrats who promised increased legislative transparency last fall restructured the committee design in a way that could make it nearly impossible for the public to track bills in the House. The new setup also opens the door wide for legislative sleights of hand to shuffle bills through the process without ample public notice.
The short of it is that the Democrats made all finance committees divisions of the Ways and Means Committee (the final stop for bills with a fiscal impact). This puts the decision-making power in the hands of just a few legislators who can move bills at a moment’s notice without proper public disclosure and a sufficient waiting period. This means a single bill could travel through a number of committees on a single day, clearly bypassing due process and creating a potential breeding ground for abuse.
One way this could impact citizens brings us to what very well could be broken promise No. 2.
Democrats have promised to the public (especially Twin Cities suburbanites) that they are looking to pass “reasonable measures” of gun control, including “universal background checks” and “red flag” warnings.
The Democrat majority has highlighted the need for a red flag law to seize guns from people perceived to be a threat to themselves or others. Another bill Democrats have authored would overhaul the system of purchase permits by extending it beyond pistols and semi-automatic weapons to include all firearms. The permit to purchase would be valid for only 30 days, allow you to purchase only one firearm and expire upon purchase. I oppose new laws of any kind that infringe upon our Second Amendment rights.
The new House committee structure provides an avenue for Democrats to call an anti-Second Amendment bill for a hearing almost at a moment’s notice, without the opportunity for you – my constituents – to come to St. Paul to testify. They can amend it on the fly with even more extreme measures added and have it prepared for a vote of the full House in a single day – all with the public left out in the cold. Somehow, I don’t doubt that the gun-grabber interest groups may be notified of scheduled hearings with plenty of time to mobilize testifiers, while those of us who cherish the Second Amendment will be among the last to know.
As if those aren’t bad enough, the Democrats’ pledge to deliver more affordable health care appears to be on thin ice, another broken promise in the making. After spending all fall promising to reduce health care costs, a leading Democrat told the Capitol press that it is “essential” to raise taxes on health care. The fact is, House Republicans during the last biennium achieved nationally recognized reforms that actually helped reduce health care costs on the individual market two years in a row, while also increasing health care options for Minnesotans. Free-market competition is the best way to bring down health care costs in Minnesota, not more layers of government programs.
It will be difficult for even members of the Legislature to track the committee maze established by the Democrats, much less the public. I will do my best to keep constituents up to speed as things develop at the Capitol this session, just understand notice may be short for interested citizens living beyond the Twin Cities to participate in the bill hearing process.