Category Archives: 2013-2014 MN Legislature

Thank you Rep. Garofalo! Maybe next time Sen. Thompson…

At my office, our HR director had all the employees do the Clifton StrenthFinder project.  My top strength is “Includer.” An include is described as:

“You want to include people and make them feel part of the group. In direct contrast to those who are drawn only to exclusive groups, you actively avoid those groups that exclude others. You want to expand the group so that as many people as possible can benefit from its support. You hate the sight of someone on the outside looking in. You want to draw them in so that they can feel the warmth of the group. You are an instinctively accepting person. Regardless of race or sex or nationality or personality or faith, you cast few judgments. Judgments can hurt a person’s feelings. Why do that if you don’t have to? Your accepting nature does not necessarily rest on a belief that each of us is different and that one should respect these differences. Rather, it rests on your conviction that fundamentally we are all the same. We are all equally important. Thus, no one should be ignored. Each of us should be included. It is the least we all deserve.”

If that is true about me, is it any wonder that I believe it is horrible for government to discriminate against gay couples who are lawfully excluded from obtaining the same benefits through committing to each other that straight couples have?

That is why I am very happy today’s vote by the state Senate was a vote for equality in marriage.  Everybody who wants to marry, can be included.

A lot of people in my district were surprised when Rep. Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington) voted to support the law in the state House.  I actually wasn’t.  I’ve been following Pat Garofalo for years, and I don’t believe he was against gay marriage when he voted to put the amendment on the ballot in 2012.  I just don’t think he had the political guts to stand up the way John Kriesel did.  And I called him out on that before the vote, urging him to vote what he believed, not what was good for him politically.

This time he voted for freedom, and I thank Rep. Garofalo.   And well I commend him, I am proud that the Minnesota DFL took the initiative to tackle this subject despite the impending threat by Republicans that this will divide the state like nothing since the Civil War.  That is absurd!  Anybody who follows politics today knows that topics no longer hold for more than a few months.  Where was the TEA Party in 2012?  Divisive issues holding for decades are a piece of history in politics.  People care about right now almost exclusively, and let’s face it, very few of us are going to be affected by gay marriages, other than a lot of people are going to be buying a bunch of wedding gifts soon.

This will pass and be a nonfactor in 2014.  Sure Republicans will try to use it as an issue, and I certainly hope they do, because it will carry very little weight?  I’m sure Rep. Garofalo will have a challenger, but really what’s the point?  He simply voted to let people make their own life choices without government limiting their abilities to do so.  Isn’t that what conservatives want?  That idea of letting people “make their own life choices” is why I find it funny that Sen. Dave Thompson (R-Lakeville) who regularly uses the term “nanny state” to describe Minnesota laws, voted to let our Minnesota government continue to make the decision for citizens about who they can or cannot marry.  Do you agree that is hypocritical?

As Sen. Thompson and his nanny state hypocrisy embarks on a run to try and defeat Gov. Mark Dayton, I am thankful that Gov. Dayton also supports this legislation, and that two of the three people who represent me in State government said yes to this bill giving people more freedom.  Thank you Gov. Dayton and Rep. Garofalo!  Hopefully Sen. Thompson will make a better choice next time when he is forced to choose between what he says he believes, and what he believes will work best for him on the floor of the Republican State Convention.

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Paul Thissen, Dave Thomspon, and Pat Garofalo, and the use of the word “idiot” by their “friends.”

DT idiot pictureAfter reading Dave Thompson’s most recent Facebook post earlier today, a “Comment on Gun Control Hearing,” I noticed something I thought was interesting, the use of the word “idiot” towards people they disagree with by commenters on his post. I’ve noticed it before, I’m sure I have done it before. After all, politics is a dirty business, passions flair, and insults are rampant. But I decided to look on couple other Facebook page for comparison. While I didn’t find the word “idiot” right away, I did find “stupid” right away on Pat Garofalo’s page, and I’m not talking about his picture. Bazinga! In all reality, I like to insult Pat because he insults so many people. The funny thing is that my son and his daughter are friends. They are only in 8th grade, but how funny would be if in high school they started dating…

It wouldn’t bother me, and I am guessing he is laid back enough to not be bothered either, but I digress. Now Dave Thompson has 1,831 followers on Facebook and Pat Garofalo has 414 followers, although that is his campaign page since I am not “friends” with him like I am with Dave, but I did send him a friend request…

So you would think if I looked at another politician with 4,362 “friends” – almost twice as many as my two legislators combined, I should be able to find a couple of insulting words about the opposition right away, right? I looked at Paul Thissen’s Facebook page. I think that is a pretty fair comparison, I think Dave Thompson will be, or at least should be, the leader of Republicans in the legislature, and Paul Thissen is obviously the top DFLer in the legislature. Pat Garofalo is an idio… I mean, Pat Garofalo is not a leader.

I went back as far as I could go, counting over 80 individual comments before I stopped counting comments. No “friend” of Paul Thissen insulted Republicans in the least. Interesting, huh? Posts were positive, the word compromise appeared several times, and yet, in Dave Thompson’s most recent Facebook post, two of his 1,831 “friends” call people they don’t agree with “idiots.” Maybe the legislature could get more done if there wasn’t as much discounting of the free opinions of people they have differing opinions with.

Minnesota needs to eliminate gerrymandering now to prevent what happened in Wisconsin

A majority of state governments right now are totally controlled by one party.  I think I heard 24 states are controlled by Republican Legislatures and Governors and 16 states are controlled by Democratic Governors and Legislatures, Minnesota is now one of those states.  Our country is so politically divided, that it seems the only way government works is if one party controls everything.

While Minnesota is controlled by DFLers, across the border in Wisconsin, Republicans recaptured total control.  With two states that are so similar, what is the difference? One word, gerrymandering.

In 2010, Republicans controlled everything, and drew new lines to help them win seats.  Minnesota’s lines were drawn by nonpartisan judges.  A couple weeks ago, Wisconsin voted for Barack Obama, even though a native son was on the ballot for the Republicans.  Wisconsin also elected a Democrat to the senate in Tammy Baldwin, over a former popular Republican governor.  Yet, the State House is controlled by Republicans with a 20 vote margin, and the State Senate is controlled, narrowly, but controlled by Republicans.

Gerrymandering has always been a tool to maintain power, and Wisconsin in 2012 is a prime example.  That’s why Minnesota needs to eliminate one party’s ability to gerrymander, and instead establish a fair and nonpartisan board to redraw district lines after the census every ten years.

Establishing a nonpartisan board would eliminate a lot of useless chatter, eliminate a lot of wasted time legislators should be working to make Minnesota better, and ultimately save taxpayers money.  So many Republicans used the phrase” it is just common-sense” to pass voter ID amendment.  That wasn’t common-sense, it was completely political and partisan.  If we change this procedure, neither side benefits from this, and neither side loses from this.  That is exactly what common-sense is.

Let your Minnesota legislators know that you want to take redistricting duties away from a political body and make it a nonpartisan practice.

Perfect Communication Example That Illustrates Why The DFL Wins And Republicans Lose

MPR’s Tim Pugmire wrote an article yesterday about an overhaul of tax policy for Minnesota possibly being in the works to make taxes simpler and fairer.

In the article there were two distinct differences in how Republicans talk and how Democrats talk, and I believe they are prime examples of why Republicans lost the legislature this year, and have little hope of getting it back soon.

Ann Lenczewski, the DFL’s new chairwoman of the House Tax Committee said of policy changes:

“I would hate to think Democrats would view the confluence of the majorities with the governor’s office as an OK to not work with Republicans and all Minnesotans,” she said. “So, hopefully the conversation will be inclusive and varied. That means there will be strong disagreement, and that’s OK.”

On the other side of the aisle, outgoing Republican chairman of the House Tax Committee Greg Davids said:

“Well, anytime someone says ‘tax fairness,’ that means increased taxes on everyone, and that’s exactly what the proposal will be.”

So we have the DFLer saying we need to work together to solve problems and create a long-term solution to continuous budget problems.  And on the other side we have a grown man stomping his feet and saying he won’t! he won’t! he won’t! like it even though he has no idea what the proposals will actually be.

It’s like two little kid sitting at the table with a plate of Christmas lutefisk in front of them.  One is pouting and refusing to even try it, and the other is saying, if I try it and don’t like it can I still have some lefse? Maybe that is a bad example… I’ll change it to brussel sprouts.  So the kid says if I try the lutefisk and don’t like it can I still have some brussel sprouts? (Cue rim shot!)

I think locally and nationally people spoke out against pledges that prevent compromise when trying to get important work done, like the no tax pledges Grover Norquist and Phil Krinkie requires. And I think people spoke out about political leaders not working together, being overtly antagonistic, and completely unable to get things done for partisan reasons. David Gregs must not understand that, and my fear is that David Hann may be worse in the Minnesota senate.

I just hope DFLers don’t do what Congressional Democrats did from 2008 to 2010, and keep trying to get along with Republicans, to their own detriment. I hope if Greg Davids wants to sit on the floor, whining and crying, they just ignore him and go about the business of making Minnesota stronger without his or the rest of the Republican’s help.

Two very different videos of Paul Thissen and Kurt Daudt

The Minnesota House of Representatives Public Information Services posted two Session Update videos after DFLers and Republicans elected their new leaders.  One video showed Paul Thissen, who was elected the new Speaker of the Minnesota House, flanked by a large group of DFL House members.  The other video was Kurt Daudt, the newly elected Minority Leader, by himself.

It makes sense in one way, DFLers are more excited about their results, but I also wonder if there isn’t an indication of some issues among the Republican group. Daudt said in his media availability that he didn’t think anybody saw this coming.  I disagree, DFLers were pretty confident of winning one legislative body, and were cautiously optimistic of winning both bodies.  It is only shocking because I think Republicans spend so little time interacting with people on the other side, and receiving accolades from like-minded individuals, that they were the only ones who didn’t see this coming.

I think the two videos tell another story.  There is a wide range of ideology among House DFLers, from the very liberal, to many moderates, to former Republicans.  They won’t all agree, but they are unified.  I’m not sure about the other side.  They are so like-minded, and so confident that they are always right, that they have a really hard time changing, probably even about who they support for leadership.  Kurt Daudt might have a big task to get his caucus together.  I think it is also might be a bad sign for Republicans that they didn’t elect a Deputy Minority Leader, which makes me think tensions may have been very high.

It is interesting that no information has leaked out.  It is interesting that my state Rep., Pat Garofalo, has been so quiet on Twitter.  I think it is going to be another rough week or two before they start coming back to life.  The one thing Republicans sure are all talking about is how DFLers wanted bipartisanship, and stressing that they are going to hold DFLers to that.  But what they are forgetting is that they did not just ignore those bipartisanship calls and go on with their business, they taunted the DFL and gave them the finger at every opportunity.  It is not the DFL’s job to be bipartisan now, they received a mandate, it is the DFL’s job to prove to Minnesotans that the DFL has the agenda to bring Minnesota back to where it was before Ventura and Pawlenty.