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The Case Against Majority Leader Tom Bakk - Part 2

Category: DFL2012
Posted: 06/03/13 22:27

by Dave Mindeman

Although Republican obstruction is the main problem with moving a Minnesota agenda forward, it is not the only problem.

Compromise is a good and necessary thing within a legislative issue, but taking a broader "let's make a deal" approach with unrelated pieces of the puzzle can be a set back.

Majority Leader Tom Bakk's role in the end game for the 2013 Legislative Session changed the course of legislation...and not in a good way.

Two Republicans and one DFLer told MinnPost that the minimum wage bill - and a proposal to toughen the state's anti-bullying law in schools - fell victim to last minute political maneuvering between DFL and GOP legislative leaders.

DFL Rep. Ryan Winkler and two Republican legislators who declined to speak on the record say Senate leaders came to deal that secured a bonding bill for Capitol repairs and ensured an orderly end to the session in exchange for no action on those two policy provisions.

Of course, for the record, Bakk denies that it happened that way....

Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk and a Senate staff spokesman deny such a tradeoff......"We just kind of ran out of time to get an agreement with the House on raising the minimum wage," Bakk told reporters at a press conference the morning after the session ended last week. "I do believe we're going to come back next session and do that."

...but the scenario does explain a lot of the odd maneuvers in play during that last day.

As for the time element...the Senate passed its version of the minimum wage bill on May 8th. The House had already passed its bill on May 3rd. So, there were at least 12 days of conference committee work available, yet no serious efforts were done until the final day.

Rep. Winkler kept working till the last minute in conference but gave up when cooperation just didn't materialize.

The Bullying Bill also passed the House on May 6th, but in the Senate it was always pushed aside as Senate Republicans threatened a long debate.

When the bonding bill failed in the House, Capitol reconstruction was going to die with it. And so Bakk worked to resurrect that with a smaller bonding bill.

Efforts on minimum wage and the anti-bullying bill got the full support of the House and despite all the other issues, the Speaker and House leadership worked to move these bills.

The Senate did not move them along - and in the end, Bakk seems to have used them as bargaining chips for that bonding bill which he Bakk seemed to feel had more importance than both the minimum wage and anti-bulling bills combined.

No one will argue that Capitol renovation is important...but the minimum wage and anti-bullying legislation did not have to be mixed into that agenda. Bakk use them as an opportunity.

Sure they can be brought back again. But next year is an election year and moving legislation is always tougher. Republican opposition to these two bills will only strengthen. And after the 2014 elections, who knows if these bills will have the same legislative opportunity with the majority party still to be determined in the House.

Majority Leader Tom Bakk has been on his own legislative page. He is not in tune with the progressive cause....

and quite frankly, there may need to be a change.
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