Posts Tagged ‘Lisa Fobbe’

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.

MN House Meltdown II – The Faust Nuclear Option

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

In Minnesota, new nuclear power plants are prohibited. In fact, for quite some time, there has been a little sentence in Minnesota Statutes that prevent the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), the entity responsible for permitting new power plants, from issuing a “certificate of need” for a new nuclear power plant.

But things are changing. During the 2007-2008 Legislative session, Republican legislators tried to no avail to take the prohibition out of the statute so that the PUC could at least consider new nuclear plants. This year, however, the Minnesota Senate voted on a bipartisan basis to lift the nuclear moratorium. (Local DFL Senators Olseen and Fobbe voted to allow new nuclear plants; Sen Lourey voted no.)

Why this change of heart from some on the left? Well, it turns out that Nuclear power plants do not emit carbon dioxide, the hated colorless, odorless gas that occurs naturally, but is supposedly heating our planet. This fact puts environmental extremists in an awkward position. And, admittedly, it also puts conservatives in favor of new nuclear plants in a bit of a strange position, since one of the selling points for more nuclear comes from a page out of the environmentalists playbook.

It was the Minnesota House’s turn to take up the energy policy bill on April 30th. Since the amendment to lift the moratorium now had a chance to pass, the majority leadership decided to let a Democrat carry the amendment. So they chose Rep. Tim Faust (DFL – No Man’s Land). Prior to the debate on the energy bill, the rumor around the capitol was that there were between 65 and 70 votes in the House in favor of lifting the nuclear ban.

The Faust amendment took up much of the  debate on the energy bill, as many House members spoke to the issue, although Rep. Faust himself didn’t speak very long at all. In the end, the expected 65-70 votes for the Faust amendment turned into 60. The amendment failed 60-72. Local Reps. Faust and Eastlund voted yes. Rep. Bill Hilty (author of the underlying energy policy bill) voted no, as did Rep. Jeremy Kalin (DFL – North Branch) and Rep. Gail Kulik Jackson (DFL – Milaca). My understanding is that Rep. Jackson stated her support of nuclear power during her campaign. However, during her floor speech, she noted that she needed to “educate” her constituents about why we shouldn’t build more nuclear plants. 

It also shows poor planning on the part of the DFL House leadership by not having the votes lined up to pass one of its own members’ amendments (unless they intende to throw him under the bus). It also a lack of leadership on the part of Rep. Faust by under-performing the expected number of votes on his amendment.

Hopefully, the Senate position will prevail in the conference committee, and the PUC can at least consider another option to meet our future energy needs with a clean efficient and cost-effective option.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am an employee of the Minnesota House of Representatives in the Republican Caucus. This blog is not paid for or sponsored by any legislative caucus, political party, candidate or candidate’s committee. Opinions expressed herein are not necessarily those of any legislative caucus, political party, candidate or candidate’s committee.