Archive for the ‘Health and Human Services’ Category

Sen. Lourey Afraid to say “Obama” and “Care” in the Same Sentence

Sunday, June 6th, 2010

In the commentary on the Legislative session written by Sen. Tony Lourey (DFL – Kerrick) and published in the local weekly papers, he states that the Legislature fought hard for federal funding for early enrollment in medical assistance (MA). Sen. Lourey further states that this would bring an additional $1.4 million to the state, but the Governor refused this position because he is seeking higher office.

Truth is, what the Democrat majority in the Legislature wanted, and what the Governor was opposed to, is an early opt-in to ObamaCare. The federal health care monstrosity, under the compromise reached at the end of session, will take effect in Minnesota when the Governor decides to opt in. The $1.4 billion of federal money Lourey says will come in from this will most surely be swallowed up by a huge expansion of benefits paid out to more people dependent on the public entitlement system.

This sets up a major issue in the Governor’s race this fall. The Democrat candidate, if elected, will surely choose to opt in, whether it’s Margaret Anderson Kelliher, Matt Entenza or Mark Dayton. Tom Emmer, like Governor Pawlenty will likely choose to not opt in.

In the meantime, Sen. Lourey will avoid the phrase “federal Health care” or “ObamaCare” like the plague.

But let’s face it. That’s basically what it is.

Health Care Earthquake Could Result in 2010 Electoral Aftershock

Monday, August 10th, 2009

Hardly a day goes by without news reports of opponents to government-run health care “disrupting” town hall meetings conducted by members of Congress. Although I am adamantly opposed to people being uncivil at a forum where civil discourse and respect for others is expected, I suspect many of the reports of “angry mobs” are overstated. And if the protesters we have been hearing about are engaging in intimidation tactics, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Word is, union activists are getting into the act. There is no group in the country that has perfected thuggery like union activists. The person being treated in an emergency room in St. Louis in this story was attacked by a Service Employees International Union (SEIU) member wearing the union’s trademark purple shirt, according to a Fox News TV report this morning.

There is no doubt people are angry over the prospect of losing more of their freedom, and our nations leaders handing over more of our economy to the government in a slide toward socialism. No doubt this is a time like no other in forty years. Think about it. Barack H. Obama is the most left-leaning president since LBJ, maybe since FDR. Until now, only two Democrats have ascended to the White House since LBJ. And the people didn’t have as much to fear with them. Jimmy Carter was too incompetent to implement a socialist agenda, even if he had wanted to, and even with huge majorities in Congress. And Bill Clinton was too busy doing, well, doing what Bill Clinton does best to really mess up the country. So here we are with a guy in the oval office who has personal appeal of Bill Clinton (but without the personal baggage)  of Bill Clinton, and with huge Congressional majorities enjoyed by Carter. For all practical purposes there are no checks and balances in Washington, and people are scared.

And it wasn’t the health care issue that started it all. The conservative earthquake may be in response to government-run health care, but the early tremors were felt when conservatives spoke out against the proposed cap & trade (cap & tax) energy bill.

Whether the aftershocks result in a seismic shift in Congressional power might be dependent upon how moderate “blue dog” Democrats handle the strong opposition to their leadership’s policies. Many of these blue dogs were elected in 2006 and 2008 in Republican-leaning or swing districts. They ran as being moderate, centrist, independent of party control. The issues such as cap & tax and government-run health care will force them to choose whether they will vote their districts, or vote with their party leadership.

They will also have to decide how they will handle town hall meeting attendees. If they genuinely listen they may stay in the good graces of their constituents. Democrat Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa reportedly went against the wishes of his staff and took the heat by hearing out angry constituents at a town hall meeting (my cynical side says this could have been staged). On the other hand, if members of Congress dismiss protesters as angry mobs or people bought and paid for by special interests, that will be their first step toward their ultimate political demise. Some Congressmen such as Tim Walz, Democrat of Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District, is  staying in hiding, and not holding town meetings, as reported by the Owatonna People’s Press. Avoiding the heat from constituents cannot be much more preferable to getting negative editorials such as this one.

Now, I’m not one to give free advice to Democrats, but if they misunderestimate, to use a Bushism, the genuine grassroots uprising against this slide toward socialism, the 2010 election could result in one of the biggest shifts in power in the U. S. House of Representatives in modern times. If they listen and vote their districts, they may avoid the loss of seats that the party of the man in the White House typically experiences in his first mid-term election.

Faust Flip-Flop Keeps Marijuana Bill From Going Up in Smoke

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

(Yes I’m still catching up on posts from 2009 Legislative session action.)

Rep. Tim Faust (DFL - No Man's Land)

Rep. Tim Faust (DFL - No Man's Land)

On May 11th, the House Ways and Means Committee heard Senate File 97, the “medical marijuana” bill authored by Rep. Tom Rukavina (DFL – Virginia).

First a little background. Since this is the East Central Truth Detector, I will say up front that I really don’t think the average voter cares whether someone who is dying of a terminal disease smokes a little pot if it eases some of their pain. This is not even a partisan issue, as there are prominent proponents and opponents to “medical” use of marijuana in both parties. The larger issue is whether core supporters of  “medical marijuana” are using potential legalization of the “gateway drug” for medical use as a gateway for broader legal use down the road. The other issue, which I will get to in a bit, is whether  a representative of a district that has had a high number of meth labs in recent years should treat the issue of “medical” marijuana as cavalierly as he did on May 11th in the Ways and Means Committee.

A little more background. The Ways and Means Committee is the last major committee stop for all bills with fiscal impact before they are debated on the House Floor. On May 11th, Ways & Means Committee Chairman Rep. Loren Solberg (DFL – Grand Rapids) was absent, leaving Vice Chair Rep. Tim Faust (DFL – No Man’s Land) in charge.

After debating the bill for about 20 minutes, a roll call was taken of the committee members present. All members cast their votes audibly,  aye or nay, and Faust, being the last to vote voted nay. After a short pause (and realizing the bill would have died in committee on a 9-9 vote), Faust asked, “Can I change my vote?” After another short pause, Faust stated, “I’ll change by vote to yes . . . the motion passes 10-8.”

While his change of heart in a matter of seconds is not documented in the committee minutes, the audio archive clearly records the Faust flip flop. Go to the House Ways and Means audio and video archives, scrol down to Monday, May 11,2009 and click on “listen now”. Faust’s “no” vote occurs at about 31:43. Faust’s “Can I change my vote?” question occurs at about 32:02 (turn volume up) and his “yes” vote occurs at about 32:06.

The bill eventually passed the House Floor, but was vetoed by Governor Tim Pawlenty.

A couple of observations. First, if he didn’t want to be the one to sink Rep. Rukavina’s bill, he simply could have not voted, then the bill would have passed out of the committee, 9-8 (several other committee members were absent, so this was a non-issue). But doing quick math as people are voting is probably not Faust’s strength. Second, one would think the vice chair of arguably the most powerful committee in the House would know whether he can change his vote. But Faust had to ask anyway.

But the most important observation is, given the propensity of the number of meth labs that cropped up in Pine County and Kanabec County in recent history, the representative of District 8B should not have used his vote as a tool to help out his political cronies.

When former Rep. Judy Soderstrom and her supporters played up the fact that Rep. Soderstrom was a co-author of the bill that essentially put an end to the meth labs in our area, it was poo-pooed by Faust and the local DFL activists. Now Faust’s vote and the way he handled himself when the “medical marijuana” bill was before him makes one question whether he really cares about this issue, or if for him, it is all politics.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am an employee of the Minnesota House of Representatives in the Republican Caucus. This blog is not is not endorsed by or supported in any way by any legislative caucus, political party, candidate or candidate’s committee. Opinions expressed herein are those of the administrator of this blog and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of any legislative caucus, political party, candidate or candidate’s committee.