Archive for February, 2010

Pogemiller: “We never cut off debate here.”

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

Really. He said it.

Monday night. February 22, 2010. When the Senate was waiting for the House to send the conference committee report on Minnesota’s version of the debt-laden porkulus bill over, Republican Leader David Senjem wondered aloud that if the Senate breaks for recess while waiting for the bill, would there be opportunity for debate when the Senate is called back to order.

In response, Senate majority leader Larry Pogemiller (DFL – Minneapolis) stated emphatically, “We never cut off debate here.” Laugher erupted, which even included a chuckle from Senate President James Metzen (DFL – St. Paul). The look on Pogemiller’s face was priceless.

Of course, the Truth Detector has to give Sen. Pogemiller a “pure bull” for his statement. One only has to go back to the last day of the 2009 session when Senate Democrats jammed through an enormous tax increase bill at the last minute, knowing it would meet its demise with Governor Tim Pawlenty’s veto pen. Because the clock was ticking toward the constitutional deadline, the Senate Democrats cut off debate and forced a vote under the vocal objections by Senate Republicans.

There was also 2004, when, rather than allow then-Sen. Michele Bachmann offer a constitutional amendment preserving traditional marriage, the Democrat majority shut off the lights and the microphones.

Pure bull, Sen. Pogemiller, and the people know better.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am an employee of the Minnesota House of Representatives with the Republican Caucus. This website is not paid for nor operated by any legislator, legislative caucus, candidate or political party. Opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the website administrator, and not necessarily those of any legislator, legislative caucus, candidate or political party.

Why Procedural Motions Sometimes Matter

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

When making a judgment on legislators, most individuals and interest groups focus on the “big votes”. In other words, the vote on an entire bill rather than an obscure amendment, or a vote to override a veto rather than a procedural motion. Most often, votes on procedural motions are split down party lines, and usually ignored by parties and interest groups. However, when Minnesota’s version of the debt laden porkulus bill was considered this past week, there were very important procedural motions in the House and Senate that should speak very loudly and clearly about how the Democrat majority in both Houses of the Legislature are playing games with the taxpayers’ credit card.

On Monday, February 22, 2010, the debt bill came back to the House from the House-Senate conference committee for repassage. Republican Leader Kurt Zellers moved to reject the conference repoert and return the bill to conference committe. The motion failed, mostly along party lines, and the conference committee report was adopted and the bill was repassed and sent to the Senate. In the Senate, Sen. Warren Limmer (R – Maple Grove) made the motion to reject the conference report and return the bill to the conference committee. Again, the motion was defeated mostly along party lines. The conference committee report was adopted and the bill was repassed and sent to the Governor. 

Or so we thought. That’s what usually happens to a bill that passes both bodies of the Legislature. However, the Democrat leadership, re-thinking the prospect of a borrowing bill at the Sham-wow price of $999,999,000 getting vetoed in its entirety by the Governor, then hung onto the bill and put the conference committee, now known as a “working group” back to work.

Capitol insiders don’t remember this kind of maneuvering happening since early statehood days when a bill to move the capitol to St. Peter mysterously disappeared.

Democrat leadership could have just listened to the minority concerns that the bill was too large and would be vetoed by the Governor. But they instead opted to defeat the motions by Republicans to reject the conference report. Rather than admit that Republicans are right, Democrat leadership chose to be the ones in control and use a procedure rarely, if ever, used to keep their debt bill from getting vetoed.

This cannot be good for House Speaker Margaret Anderson-Kelliher’s (DFL – Minneapolis) reputation as a leader as she seeks her party’s endorsement for Governor.

Representatives from the East Central Minnesota area voting with Democrat leadership were Tim Faust, Jeremy Kalin, and Gail Kulick Jackson.

Rep. Bill Hilty joined Republicans in voting to send the bill back to conference committee and voting against final passage of the bill. Let’s not kid ourselves. Rep. Hilty didn’t suddenly become a fiscal conservative. He voted ageinst final passage because the bill did not contain the tens of millions of dollars for the Moose Lake Sexual Offender Program expansion in his district.

Rob Eastlund (R – Isanti) was excused from this late evening session and did not vote.

In the Senate, Sen. Lisa Fobbe and Sen. Rick Olseen, both Democrats, sided with their leadership on these votes. Sen. Tony Lourey (D – Kerrick) sided with Republicans, presumably for the same reasons as Rep. Hilty.

Democrat leadership can talk bipartisanship all they want, but if they continue to stonewall the minority, even when they know they’re right, their talk of bipartisanship will fall on deaf ears.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am an employee of the Minnesota House of Representatives with the Republican Caucus. This website is not paid for nor operated by any legislator, legislative caucus, candidate or political party. Opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the website administrator, and not necessarily those of any legislator, legislative caucus, candidate or political party.

Are Democrats Opposed to Private Sector Jobs?

Sunday, February 14th, 2010

It is typical when a chief executive gives an address to the Legislative branch that the response by the live audience is very partisan. For example, when a President gives the state of the union address, members of his party will applaud at all the appropriate places in the speech, and if the point is particularly poignant, they will stand and cheer. Conversely, members of the opposing party, while usually polite, will remain silent when most of the applause lines are delivered, unless it’s a point that nearly everyone can agree with.

So when Governor Tim Pawlenty delivered his state of the state address, I was not surprised when Democrats refused to applaud in response to the Governor’s calls to reduce spending, and to get Minnesota out of the top ten in the nation for tax burden.

However, one obvious applause line that everyone should have agreed with, was when the Governor talked about the need to create private sector jobs. But when he delivered this line, and the right side of the House Floor where Republicans were seated applauded, the left side where Democrats were seated was nearly silent.

Nothing much surprises the Truth Detector anymore, but on this one the Truth Detector says, “Are you kidding me?” Are Democrats really opposed to private sector job creation? Are Legislative Democrats  that beholden to public employee unions that they don’t dare publicly approve of private sector jobs? Where do they think the money to pay public employees comes from?

The Truth Detector says Minnesota’s financial mess will not get straightened out with the current Legislative leadership  in charge of things.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am an employee of the Minnesota House of Representatives with the Republican Caucus. This website is not paid for nor operated by any legislator, legislative caucus, candidate or political party. Opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the website administrator, and not necessarily those of any legislator, legislative caucus, candidate or political party.

Dayton Proposes to Raise Taxes; No Spending Cuts

Sunday, February 14th, 2010

Former U. S. Senator Mark Dayton

When former U. S. Senator Mark Dayton announced his intention to run for Governor of Minnesota last month, he proposed to raise taxes on the top 10 percent of income earners, which he claims will bring in an additional $3.8 billion in a two-year biennium. At the same time, he claims, according to this Minneapolis Star Tribune article, that he “whatever I can, whenever I can, wherever I can to bring new jobs to our state.” Maybe someone should tell him that taxing job proviers more is not the way to attract them to our state.

The Truth Detector gives Dayton some credit for his honesty in his complete love of government bureaucracy, as he gives no indication that he would cut or streamline government at all. He only wants to raise taxes and spend more.

Dayton, like many other tax-and-spend advocates, cite the Tax Incidence Study to claim that wealthy Minnesotans pay a smaller percentage of their disposable income in taxes than middle income or lower income folks. This is where the Truth Detector has to give Dayton a “half-truth”, because every time Dayton and his taax-and-spend allies bring this up, they fail to tell the whole story.

Yes it’s true that high income earners pay a smaller percentage of their income in taxes, according to the Tax Incidence Study. This is because the study takes into account regressive taxes (those that fall most heavily on the poor and middle class), such as gas taxes, property taxes, sales taxes and alcohol and tobacco taxes. The income tax (which is very progressive in Minnesota) hits high income earners very hard.

The part of the story that is not told is the part that makes the most sense, if one takes a few seconds to think about it. High income earners pay a smaller percentage on almost everything, when compared to folks who make a more modest income. Think about it! Utility bills, food, clothing, car payments, groceries. It may not seem fair to a lot of people, but high income earners have more money at thier disposal for life’s necessities than middle-or-low income earners. Of course, their tax burden will be a smaller percentage, when factoring in all taxes.

The other part of the story that the tax-and-spend crowd will refuse to tell is that liberals in the Legislature have been effective at raising regressive taxes in recent years, such as the gas tax, and the additional sales tax for the arts and outdoors. These are regressive taxes that are disproportionately paid by low and middle income folks. So they made that tax system in Minnsota more regressive, and now they cry about how unfair it is that the rich aren’t paying their fair share, so let’s sock it to them by raising the income tax!

And politicians like Dayton, who probably never had a private sector job, have virtually no capacity to make government smaller.  Heaven help us if he or one of his ilk become our governor for the next four years.