Posts Tagged ‘Tim Pawlenty’

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.

Where’s the Check and Balance on Judicial Overreach?

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

Last week, Ramsey County Judge Kathleen Gearin issued a temporary restraining order on a portion of Governor Tim Pawlenty’s unallotments (executive decision to cut spending without legislative approval). The basis of this decision was that the Governor used his unallotment authority in a way not used before by announcing his intention to unallot prior to the start of the fiscal year.

In other words it’s the timing. The statute gives the executive branch unallotment powers when the revenues are less than anticipated. Judge Gearin’s argument is that the budget shortfall was not unanticipated when he announced his intention to unallot at the end of 2009 Legislative session, therefore the Governor overreached his constitutional authority. Presumably, Judge Gearin is acting as a “check and balance” on the Executive Branch.

But let’s not lose sight of the fact that the Legislature and the Governor were never going to come to an agreement on the overall budget. The Democrat controlled Legislature continued to send spending bills to the Governor that would require tax increases to pay for them. The Governor is staunchly opposed to tax increases. Unallotment was the last mechanism to balance the budget and end the session on time, which by the way is also in the constitution.

So Judge Gearin stepped in the middle of a dispute between the Legislative Branch and Executive Branch and made the decision for them. House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher (a DFL candidate for Governor) immiedately went to the press to hail udge Gearin’s decision and denounce the Governor’s overreach. Likewise, DFL candidate for Governor Matt Entenza called the Governor’s unallotment action “hatchet tactics” (Interesting choice of words, considering the opposition research he authorized on fellow DFLer Mike Hatch in a power struggle between the two leading up to the 2006 election.)  

The question then becomes where is the check and balance on the judicial branch? I’m no lawyer, nor do I play one on TV, but it could be just as easily argued that Judge Gearin overreached by issuing a temporary restraining order to reinstate $5.3 million of spending on a dietary program.

When the Legislature and the Governor have a dispute, the people can easily speak through the ballot box to settle the dispute. With judges, it’s not that simple. Yes, I know. In Minnesota we elect our judges. But when can anyone recall an incumbent judge who was ever voted out of office?

Furthermore, those who are in the know will tell you Judge Gearin leans to the left politically and is a DFL sympathizer. Just go back to the Coleman-Franken recount. Judge Gearin was part of the three-judge panel that heard Colman’s case. Norm Coleman did not catch one break during the whole ordeal. Thousands of ballots reviewed, and dozens of rulings issued. One would think that by accident, Coleman would catch one break. Nope.

The good news is that Judge Gearin’s ruling is not the end of the story. Most likely the final decision will lie with the Minnesota Supreme Court. Hopefully, more rational heads will prevail with the final decision.

Buyers’ Remorse Out East

Sunday, November 8th, 2009

My take on the gubernatorial election results in New Jersey and Virginia is that they cannot be interpreted as anything other than “buyers’ remorse”. Virginia voters, who gave Barack H. Obama a six percent victory in their state, the first for a Democrat since 1964, just a year later elected Republican Bob McDonnel by a whopping 18 percentage points.  That’s a 24-point swing in just a year.

Likewise in New Jersey, normally a state that heavily favors Democrats, Republican Chris Christie defeated the well-funded Democrat incumbent John Corzine by four percentage points, a 19-point swing in favor of Republicans after Obama carried New Jersey by 15 points a year ago.

While these results may not necessarily be a Republican mandate, at the very least, they indicate that voters see that Obama does not have the silver bullet for solving the country’s problems. Just as likely, voters are seeing that Democrats in general, who control our Federal government, are over-reaching with a far left agenda.

The hopeful sign for Republicans is that these New Jersey and Virginia off-year elections have served as early indicators of what’s to come in the following year’s Congressional and gubernatorial elections. This year’s election results could be a good sign if activists on the right of center don’t manage to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Which brings me to this year’s special election in New York’s 23rd Congressional District. This race grabbed national attention when local Republican party chairs selected a candidate they thought had the best chance to win. Yes, that candidate is moderate to liberal in her views. Many conservatives put their support behind the Conservative Party candidate, and the Republican dropped out three days before Election Day. As it turns out, Democrats won this seat for the first time in decades.

What bothers me about his race, besides a Democrat winning, is that some conservatives view this result as a victory. Erick Erickson, blogger at Red State, stated, “NY-23 was a huge victory for the conservative base of the GOP,” “The GOP had to lose NY-23 to get the message . . .” and “And we won.” Another example is Susan B. Anthony List (a pro-life group) President Marjorie Dannenfelser, who states, “To be frank this is a win . . .”

Prior to Election Day when Governor Pawlenty endorsed the Conservative Party candidate in NY-23, a local conservative activist stated, “we’re making progress.” I have a feeling, though, had Pawlenty endorsed the Republican, that same activist would have made all kinds of noise about our Governor feeding his presidential ambitions by sticking his nose where it doesn’t belong in a New York Congressional race.

Now, I may be too simplistic in my thinking, but a loss is just that. A loss. When a liberal Democrat wins, especially in this seat (which some say hasn’t been held by a Democrat in 140 years) it’s not a win for anyone on the right side of the aisle. When Nancy Pelosi’s hand is strengthened, it is not a win. When the election results in a liberal pro-choice Democrat winning the seat, it is not a victory for Republicans, conservatives, pro-life people or anyone on the right.

If the 2010 elections will follow through with the early indications New Jersey and Virginia, those of us on the right have to get it right. It is vitally important that we work together and agree on the best possible candidates. And yes that means that I might not get the candidate that agrees with me 100% of the time. But if we simply define victory as knocking someone out of the race, God help us all.

Unallotments and Predictable Reaction

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

Yesterday Governor Tim Pawlenty announced his “unallotment” decisions – his unilateral budget cuts because the Democrat-controlled legislature couldn’t figure out how (or more accurately refused)  to reform, streamline and reduce the size and scope of state government. The unallotments included $100 million in cuts to higher education, several hundred million to various health and human services programs, a billion and a half of delayed payments to K-12 schools, and a suspension of the political contribution refund (PCR) program (get those checks in by June 30th!).

The one reduction that was less than the Governor’s original recommendation was the reduction in Local Government Aid (LGA). However, that didn’t stop the usual and predictable reactionfrom city officials, particularly, cities of the first class (Minneapolis, St. Paul and Duluth), specifically Minneapolis.

Mayor R. T. Ryback, who recently returned from a trip to China, wasted no time in wailing and gnashing his teeth over Governor Pawlenty’s decision. With the city council president singing backup, here is what was reported by Politics in Minnesota:

“I deeply disagree with the governor, because his choices will hurt many people,” Rybak said. “The governor has offered no plan for putting people to work, only for cutting jobs during a tough economy, and has offered no strategy for fixing a broken state budget that continues to lurch from deficit to deficit.”

Rybak’s sentiments were echoed by Barb Johnson, president of the Minneapolis City Council. “Unlike the state, the city of Minneapolis has addressed its financial challenges head on by paying down debt, doing long-term financial planning and delivering services more efficiently,” Johnson said. “If the state had been as disciplined about managing its finances as we have been, they wouldn’t be in this situation.”

Does Councilwoman Johnson really want the public to look into how disciplined Minneapolis has been in managing its finances? Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson has already begun, as evidenced by his blog about the $50,000 drinking fountains that Minneapolis city officials thought were a priority. The swanky drinking fountains have been in the news in the past year, as has been the story that Minneapolis spent the majority of its federal stimulus money on fixing up the Shubert Theater. Other examples of misguided priorities, such as carbon footprint reduction grants to community organizations, lobbying (yes – using taxpayer money to lobby the Legislature for more taxpayer money) and artistic manhole covers can be uncovered by a casual web search or combing through the city’s budget.

While Mayor Rybak & Co. may claim they will have to lay off cops and firefighters because of the big, bad Governor, here’s an idea. The reduction to Minneapolis for 2009 is somewhere in the neighborhood of $8 million. The pseudo autonomous Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board gets a cut of Minneapolis’ LGA to the tune of $10,000,000+ annually. Looks like an easy solution to me.

Trust me, the wasteful spending is almost as egregious in St. Paul. And I can only imagine what Duluth blows its butdet on. Hopefully, you’ll hear more from other sources on how things aren’t as dire in Minnesota’s biggest cities and their officials may want you to believe.

This article is also posted at East Central Taxpayers.

MN House Meltdown IV – The Final Minutes of Session

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

The final minutes of the 2009 Legislative session in many ways were a repeat of the end of the 2007 session. The Democrat majority had all session to balance the budget in a way that would be acceptable to the Governor. Governor Tim Pawlenty had been very clear all along that he would veto tax increases. However, that didn’t stop Democrats from trying to jam through a huge tax increase bill in the waning minutes before the constitutional deadline for adjournment.

The difference that this year brings compared to previous years? As Rep. Tom Emmer (R – Delano) stated during the debate referring to the 33-page mega tax increase bill, “I’ll give you credit for one thing – you managed to do, in much fewer pages, a lot more damage than you did with a lot more pages the last time!”

And that was the only difference. Billions of dollars of tax increases in a complicated tax bill plopped on legislators’ desks literally minutes prior to the constitutional deadline for adjournment. Democrat leadership didn’t want the public to know, and it could be argued, they didn’t want members of their own caucus to know what was in the bill. Just vote yes.

This led to the procedural meltdown that was nearly a replay of the 2007 session. Majority Leader Tony Sertich (DFL – Chisholm) making a motion to end debate, Republicans, trying to stop the bill by asking questions and demanding standing votes and roll call votes, and ultimately, a clearly rattled Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher cutting everyone off and getting the bill to a vote ahead of the midnight deadline in spite of the fact several Republican members were seeking recognition to be recognized and speak.

It was an ugly scene for anyone to watch.

The bill passed the House 82-47. Republican Reps. Buesgens, Emmer, Hackbarth and Holberg did not vote on the bill. DFL Reps Kath, Obermueller, Otremba, Pelowski and Poppe joined 42 Republicans in voting against this tas increase. The bill was then rushed to the Senate where a similar scene took place. In that chamber, all Republicans refused to vote. The bill passed 35-1 with Sen. Sparks (DFL – Austin) casting the lone “no” vote. 

In the end, the Bill was vetoed by Gov. Pawlenty, which was expected.

So why did the Democrat leadership play that game? Simply so they could say they sent the Governor a balanced budget. Yes, Democrats needed to jam through a colossal tax increase to cover all the spending they sent the Governor during the previous month.

The Governor will not call the legislature into special sessoin. He will use his unallotment authority to unilaterally make spending reductions. DFL legislative leaders recently sent the Governor a letter saying they would not help him with unallotment. No surprise there. They’ve been no help with the budget all session. Why would they start now?

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

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.

MN House Meltdown III – the Unconstitutional Tax Increase Bill

Saturday, May 30th, 2009

Here’s a Minnesota House meltdown that didn’t receive much coverage, if any at all from the mainstream media.

Democrats in the Minnesota Legislature are so eager to pass tax increases they are willing to cut corners and ignore the constitution to push them through. Consider the path of House File 885, one of several major tax increases that Legislative Democrats passed and fell to the floor with a thump once they landed in Governor Tim Pawlenty’s office.

HF 885 started out as the “Tax Omnibus Technical Bill”. It contained benign, technical tax policy that was largely non-controversial. On May 7th, the House passed it off the floor on a bipartisan vote of  120-11. The Senate Received the bill and promptly loaded it up with one of the highest income tax rates in the nation, the highest alcohol tax in the nation and egregious tobacco tax increases. The Senate also added a surcharge on credit card issuers (aka banks) that charge interest on credit cards. This version of the bill passed the Senate 43-23, also on May 7th. A conference committee was hastily named to work out the differences between the House version and the Senate version of the bill, and of course the bill came back to the House on May 8th looking more like the Senate version, loaded up with the plethora of tax increases.

HF 885 was debated at length on the House floor on May 8th, and on a vote of 86-45 was re-passed, or so Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher ruled. Immediately upon the Speakers pronouncement that the bill had been re-passed, Rep. Mark Buesgens (R – Jordan) raised a point of order, stating that the Speaker’s ruling was incorrect and that the bill had actually failed. The basis for Rep. Buesgens’ point of order is a little known provision in the Minnesota Constitution. Article IV section 26 says “Passage of a general banking law requires the vote of two-thirds of the members of each house of the legislature.” This means the vote on HF 885 fell four short of the required 90 votes needed for passage.

Speaker Kelliher and the DFL leadership did not see this one coming. First the Speaker said she does not have the authority to rule on the constitutionality of a bill. Rep. Buesgens explained that he is not challenging the constitutionality of the bill, he was raising the point that she had ruled in error when she declared the bill to be re-passed. At that point, a flustered Speaker and and equally flustered DFL House Majority Leader Tony Sertich began stalling for time so they could consult with partisan and nonpartisan staff.

After a period of awkward silence, Sertich moved to set the time of adjournment for the next day, something usually done at the end of the day’s business just prior to the actual motion to adjourn. Several minutes elapsed between the Speaker counting the “ayes” and the “nays” on this standing vote. After several minutes of more awkward silence while DFL leadership continued to consult with staff Sertich moved to “continue the calendar” meaning he wanted to move on to the next item of business.

In the end, the Speaker refused to rule on Rep. Buesgens’ point of order and declared the bill to be re-passed. The Senate re-passed the bill on May 8th, 44-20. Fortunately for the integrity of the Constitution, and for the sake of the taxpayers of Minnesota, Governor Pawlenty vetoed HF 885 in its entirety on May 9th.

The entire meltdown can be seen on the Minnesota House of Representatives video archives. Go to this page on the Minnesota House website and scroll down to Friday May 8 2009 House Floor Session part 3 and click on “Watch this program”. After the video starts slide the bar to 04:51:05 to enjoy the show. The entire length of the meltdown lasts about 21 minutes.

This is the bill that House Democrats brought up for a veto override on May 17th, but on a vote of 85-49, came five votes short of the 90 votes required to override the Governor (two Democrats, Reps. Pelowski and Poppe, joined all 47 Republicans voting against the override).

In the interest of full disclosure, I am an employee of the Minnesota House of Representatives for the Republican Caucus. Tihs blog is not paid for nor sponsored in any way by any legislative caucus, candidate, candidate’s committee or political party. Opinions expressed herein are solely those of the administrator of this website and not necessarily those of any legislative caucus, candidate, candidate’s committee or political party.

Of Cocoa Bean Mulch, Indigenous Earthkeepers and Composting Grants

Sunday, May 10th, 2009

Little more than a week from now, politicians in St. Paul will be pointing their fingers of blame at others in their explanations as to why a special session is needed to complete the state’s budget. But keep this in mind. Legislative leaders have known since February how big the deficit is, and they have known how difficult it would be to make the tough decisions. This, however, did not prevent the Democrat leadership from wasting time debating ridiculous proposals, frivolously spending money and sending bills to Governor Tim Pawlenty that they know he will veto.

This past week the Minnesota House spent a half hour debating a bill that would require retailers who sell cocoa bean mulch to put up a sign, in 36-point type, warning consumers that their dog might die if they eat it. Apparently someone’s dog died and now we need legislation that forces retailers to put up signs (as if they don’t have enough signage requirements already). The bill eked out of the House with enough votes to make it to the Governor’s desk, where it died under his veto pen.

The Jobs and Economic Development Bill, if one could call it that, had a $250,000 provision for an “Indigenous Earthkeepers” program to American Indian youth for environmental educaiton and training. This bill also had a $34 million loan forgiveness to the City of St. Paul for some hockey rink that the state has already forgiven $17 million on. Thankfully, the Governor vetoed this bill.

Another item that the Democrats thought was a high priority showed up in the Omnibus Environment and Energy Bill is $500,000 for composting grants.

Probably the biggest waste of time are the tax increase bills the Democrats are passing, knowing these bills will die a quick death once they meet up with Governor Pawlenty’s veto pen. Rather than making tough spending choices and reforming government, the Democrats are choosing to play a losing game of “chicken” with the Governor.

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 in any way by any legislative caucus, political party, candidate or candidate’s committee. Opinions expressed herein are those of the administrator of this website and not necessarily that of any legislative caucus, political party, candidate or candidate’s committee.