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Dealing With The Legislative Aftermath

Category: GOP House Republicans
Posted: 05/30/16 22:39

by Dave Mindeman

These last minute legislative sessions have their quirks. And this year was no exception.

Somehow, a $35 million tax break appeared for the tobacco industry. The Tax Chair Greg Davids had discussed how "unfair" he thought the tax was with its indexing and that it hurt lower income people more. But exactly how it got into the final tax bill is still not fully understood.

In addition to that, there is also an tax provision that everybody had agreed to...a sales tax exemption for High School sports...which was left out. And nobody seems to have an explanation for that either.

The tobacco tax break is a little disturbing because there wasn't wide spread support for it and it was hard to determine who had decided upon this as some kind of priority. Their might have been some clamor from the convenience store lobby, but why would it be so important to them to lower taxes on products that we hope to phase out one day? And yes, it does hit lower income people harder, but only because they are the easier target for tobacco company marketing. Tobacco use increase health care costs, so when we can find a way to lower its use, we, as a state, save money.

But then there is the mystery surrounding the missing sales tax exemption for the Minnesota High School league. Governor Dayton suggested that it was some kind of retribution for a sane transgender policy. But, of course, Kurt Daudt cannot believe that this could have happened. I wish someone would ask Rep. Glen Gruenhagen about that - he might have a better idea.

Games like these have fertile ground in the chaos of a session that gets down to the final hours. It is a time ripe for all kinds of shenanigans...and we are all left to deal with the aftermath.

We need to have defined procedures when it comes to dealing with final legislation. We need more transparency; more procedures that are out in the open; and less reliance on playing political games.

There has to be a better way and we need to find it.
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Enough About The Damn E-Mails

Category: Hillary Clinton
Posted: 05/29/16 14:56

by Dave Mindeman

Scathing.

That seems to be the preferred adjective regarding the Inspector General's report. The press needs to characterize things. They need to generalize. So, the adjective becomes....

Scathing.

This e-mail thing has been dragged out for what seems like forever. Internal investigations, inspector general investigations, Congressional investigations, and FBI investigations.

Hillary Clinton probably regrets having had a personal server because of all this fallout. But, quite frankly, if she went back and was starting over, I kind of think she would do it exactly the same way.

Her decision wasn't solely based on convenience, although that was an advantage. It wasn't based on security, because, in the end, her own server has been more secure than the State Department. (Major hacker breaches in November 2014 and several places in 2006.) It isn't about an antiquated computer system that needs a complete overhaul, which it does. No, it really isn't about any of that.

It is really about Hillary Clinton's ongoing need to protect her privacy. She has a long history of dealing with hard core critics who are constantly searching for any kind of information about the Clintons that can be distorted and manipulated for their own purposes. Every little detail of their lives have become fodder for endless book distortions, conspiracy theories, and half truth critiques.

Hillary Clinton is protective of her private information and to have her personal e-mails subject to FOIA requests from any busybody willing to fill out a form is just a situation she would rather avoid.

And as for scathing.

This 40+ page report never once said that Hillary Clinton broke the law. It says that she broke some administrative rules depending on how you interpret which year's rules she was subject to. And it does say that she took the private e-mail issue a few steps further than her predecessors - although they were using very similar protocols. Maybe she didn't ask for an opinion about what she could or could not do - and it is easy to say after the fact that the administrative opinion would have rejected her request. But she still did not violate any law.

If there is something we do not know that the FBI finds in their investigation, then maybe it is time they let us know that. Dragging this out interminably is not good for the political process and is frankly not fair to Secretary Clinton. The drips and drabs that come out are always turned into a major story in the press - hungry to fill air time.

And their chance to use scathing as their chosen adjective.

As Bernie Sanders said a long time ago - enough about the damn e-mails.
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To Rep. Anna Wills - You Are Supposed To Represent The Zoo

Category: GOP House Republicans
Posted: 05/27/16 15:34

by Dave Mindeman

Rep. Anna Wills is the House rep for Apple Valley and Rosemount. In her district is the Apple Valley Zoo - an asset for the city which brings in a large number of visitors and business. It is a state operated facility and depends on state bonding to maintain it.

There is always a huge disparity in funding for the Zoo regarding what comes out of the House bonding bill as compared to the Senate bill. Sen. Greg Clausen represents Apple Valley and Rosemount and under his representation, the Zoo has almost always met or come close to the requests it makes in the bonding bill.

This year the Zoo was requesting in the neighborhood of $23 or 24 million. The Senate bonding allocated about $21 million. The Senate bill got only 1 Republican vote - it needed 2 and failed to pass. But at least the Senate majority values the Zoo.

In the House, the Zoo is always an afterthought. The allocation in their original bill and in the final bill which they tried to slap through in the final hours had a total allocation for the Zoo of $4 million.

$4 million!

It was a complete slap in the face. In Rep. Anna Wills legislative update, she chastises the Senate, regarding bonding, this way:

I'm really disappointed that Senate Democrats decided to play a political game, and go back on an agreement that would have benefited so many communities across the state in significant ways. They chose funding for SouthWest Light Rail over a nearly $700 million investment in transportation infrastructure. It's unfortunate that Senate leadership chose to back Minnesotans into a corner over light rail.

That is the standard excuse for the House these days. No mention of the bill being brought to the floor in the final half hour. No mention of the language not being released until it was already being discussed. No mention of the Speaker trying to ram it through without amendment discussion. No, the talking point is that it was the Senate's fault.

But the real disappointment is the way Rep. Wills talks about the Zoo allocation....

On Sunday evening, we passed a Bonding bill with $696.5 million in funding for roads and bridges on a bipartisan vote of 91 to 39. Also included was $4 million in asset preservation for the Minnesota Zoo.

She fails to mention that this was woefully inadequate. That it is one of the lowest allocations in recent times. That it gives the Zoo no opportunity to act on their expansion projects.

I recently pointed this out with a Twitter posting....and Rep. Wills actually answered it. She says the $4 million was "better than zero".

Yeah, it is a number which is higher than zero. This is a true statement. But it is also not even close to the Senate allocation of $21 million. An amount that Sen. Clausen pushed in his caucus. That he was willing to fight for.

What does Rep. Wills fight for? I guess she fights for "better than zero".
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