Back in 2015 as the first legislative session under newly elected Speaker Kurt Daudt came to a close, many of us conservatives were left wondering what the Majority actually accomplished for the conservative movement. At his post-session press conference, Daudt had a poster board of Minnesota House Republican accomplishments that actually listed “Completed Strong Bipartisan Budget” and “Finished Work on Time” as some of the session highlights. What an inspiring message (sarcasm emphasized here).
In 2017, I moved to a new district and had the pleasure of attending my Republican caucus for the first time in my new hometown. My Republican legislator, an 8 year veteran, stood in front of the crowd of like-minded, party loyalists and boasted her accomplishments. Number one on the list: she got Minnesota to add pro-life license plates. I’ll never forget looking around the room at the underwhelmed activists and voters listening to the most boring re-election campaign launch speech in history.
My friend and partner-in-crime Jack Rogers made a bold prediction last year that can’t go unnoticed. He predicted on our Living Free podcast that Minnesota Republicans would lose the Minnesota House in 2018. This was in response to Speaker Daudt and Sen. Paul Gazelka coming out of the gate with a budget proposal that grew government by 8% and offered no significant reforms to our broken health care system.
At the time, Jack understood that the Republican brand was going to be tainted since campaign promises were already being broken months into the newly elected, historic Republican Majority at the Capitol. We weren’t fans of Speaker Daudt at the time, and had mixed, but optimistic feelings about Majority Leader Gazleka. However, we were willing to do whatever was necessary to advance the conservative agenda. We thought the best thing to do was to come up with some ideas that could be implemented.
Upon review of the Minnesota general budget surplus, we noticed that the State Economist assumed spending growth of 7% as a baseline in determining surpluses/deficits. So we took the budget numbers, froze spending and released some of the insanely high budget reserves and found that it would be easy for Republicans to propose a massive $5 Billion tax cut without cutting a dime of spending. This idea would’ve been a great campaign item to run on in 2018 and also would’ve been a great policy to push forward if we want to retain our businesses. But that idea was never embraced by leadership. It fell on deaf ears.
We also promoted the idea of passing a Constitutional Amendment that guaranteed the “right to keep and bear arms”. Most people don’t know this, but that language does not exists anywhere in our state Constitution. We alleged that this could easily be done since the Governor does not weigh in on Amendments. Can you imagine how beneficial it would’ve been in this election to have high turnout by gun rights supporters? Unfortunately, this idea also went nowhere with the Republican Majority.
What did we get instead: more government intrusion in the health care industry. Under Daudt and Gazelka’s guidance, Minnesota Republicans subsidized individual health care plans and also bailed out MNsure by reinsuring health claims over $50,000. They robbed Peter, to pay Paul. Then this fall, when health insurance companies stated that premiums would come down slightly, Republicans boasted that their reforms were working. It appears Minnesota voters weren’t that dumb.
We have a significant brand problem right now as Minnesota Republicans. The Party who ran opposed to ObamaCare (and MNsure) and ran on cutting spending and giving back surpluses, did absolutely the exact opposite once taking over control of the legislature. I once told Minnesota GOP Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan that I would never like her job, because despite all the work she does to promote the Republican brand, it will essentially be defined by what our elected Republicans do at the Capitol.
Minnesota Republican legislative leadership has been playing the “Minnesota nice” game too long and abandoning the base. If their model of Democrat-lite worked, then 16 Minnesota Suburban Republican house seats would not have been lost on Tuesday night. I’m sure Daudt is pointing fingers right now at Trump or the Party, but he should take a look in the mirror. His historic majority not only ended in defeat at the ballot box, we got nothing to show for it other than $2.5 Billion in new debt on the state credit card.
Why moderate the caucus so much if it doesn’t end up helping in the election? Has anyone noticed that despite not a single Republican plan actually eliminated pre-existing conditions, all Democrats used that accusation in their ads against their Republican opponents. I suggest that actually passing conservative reforms would help us electorally, but even if I’m wrong and we’d lose either way, at least we would have something to show for those two years.
It’s concerning to me that the chatter amongst the remaining survivors of the massive blue wave in the Minnesota House is that Daudt is going to pull a Nancy Pelosi and become the Minority Leader despite losing the Majority under his watch. If that happens, Republicans at the Capitol clearly have shown that they’ve learned nothing from Tuesday night. I urge people to talk to their Republican legislators and encourage them to change course.
President, Action 4 Liberty
Republican Majority Leader Joyce Peppin is set to retire from the Legislature according to the Star Tribune. Peppin has served seven terms in the Minnesota House and was elected by the Republican caucus as Majority Leader after Republicans took control of that chamber.
The news comes less than a week before the filing period for the August primary closes. Candidates who wish to replace Peppin have until 5 pm on June 5th to file with the Secretary of State or Country Elections office. House District 34A, the area she represents, spans the cities of Rogers and Maple Grove. A map of the district can be seen here.
Rep Knoblach (R-14B), who authored the Omnibus Supplemental Spending bill that was voted for at 3:00 am in the morning, made an outrageous argument on the House floor in response to the legality of his bill. Article 4, Section 17 of the Minnesota Constitution states: No law shall embrace more than one subject, which shall be expressed in its title. Knoblach's bill SF3656 clearly violates this clause. Note: we added the bill's subject language below because it is too long for the body of this article.
Rep Knoblach argued that he wished there was a "constitutional prohibition that still worked regarding the single subject rule". The legislator is referencing a court case he lost against the Legislature several years back where he argued a bill that funded the Senate Office Building violated the single subject rule. The problem, however, is that hiding behind a court ruling is not an excuse for violating one's oath of office. Knoblach has a duty to follow the Constitution of Minnesota as it is written, not interpreted by activist judges. In his speech, he even acknowledges how he agrees that the bill is not Constitutional. Here's a clip of Rep Knoblach's floor speech.
Rep Knoblach argues that the Constitution's requirement for all bills to be single subject is no longer valid because the courts don't hold up the law.
Posted by Action 4 Libertyon Sunday, May 20, 2018
The subject of SF3656 bill is: A bill for an act relating to state government; appropriating money for agriculture, rural development, housing, state government, public safety, transportation, environment, natural resources, energy, jobs, economic development, higher education, prekindergarten through grade 12 education, health, and human services; modifying agriculture, rural development, and housing provisions; specifying conditions of legislative ratification of proposed collective bargaining agreements; requiring proposed changes to state employee group insurance to be submitted separately to Legislative Coordinating Commission; requiring certain information about collective bargaining agreements and compensation plans be submitted to Legislative Coordinating Commission; creating transition period for Legislative Budget Office to take responsibility for coordinating fiscal notes and local impact notes; establishing Legislative Budget Office Oversight Commission; modifying the effective date of certain provisions governing preparation of fiscal notes; abolishing Office of MN.IT Services; establishing division of information technology within Department of Administration; permitting agencies more flexibility in contracting for information technology projects; requiring agencies to determine impact of proposed rule on cost of residential construction or remodeling; requiring notice to applicable legislative committees; precluding adoption of residential construction rules having certain cost until after next legislative session; exempting hair braiders from cosmetology registration requirements; prohibiting exclusive representative from charging fair share fee to nonmembers; investigating possible registration or voting by ineligible voters and reporting to law enforcement; increasing penalties for child pornography offenses; requiring reports on court-imposed stays of sentence or adjudication for sex offenses; restricting grounds that permit reunification of parents and children after parent sexually abuses child; increasing maximum penalty for certain invasion of privacy crimes involving minors; requiring predatory offender registration for certain invasion of privacy crimes involving minors; requiring collection of information on connection between pornography and sex trafficking; expanding authorized prostitution penalty assessment to include additional crimes; expanding criminal sexual conduct offenses for persons in current or recent positions of authority over juveniles and for peace officers who engage in sexual activity with those in custody; extending sunset date for court technology fund; expanding list of prior offenses that support a conviction of first-degree driving while impaired; prohibiting Department of Human Rights from using federal funds to expand program; modifying various provisions governing transportation and public safety policy and finance; modifying certain loan programs; modifying energy provisions; modifying environment and natural resources provisions; adding to and deleting from state parks, recreation areas, and forests; modifying drainage law; creating accounts; providing for disposition of certain receipts; modifying renewable development account utility annual contribution; modifying solar energy incentive program; establishing pension rate base; establishing criteria for utility cost recovery of energy storage system pilot projects; establishing utility stakeholder group; requiring investor-owned utilities to include in integrated resource plans an assessment of energy storage systems; establishing solar energy grant program for school districts; extending expiration date for an assessment; requiring creation of an excavation notice system contact information database; requiring cost-benefit analysis of energy storage systems; modifying job training program requirements; limiting use of funds in Douglas J. Johnson economic protection trust fund; modifying youth skills training program; modifying accessibility requirements for public buildings; modifying fees for manufactured home installers; adopting recommendations of Workers' Compensation Advisory Council; adjusting basis for determining salary for judges of Workers' Compensation Court of Appeals; adopting recommendations of Unemployment Insurance Advisory Council; modifying certain higher education policy provisions; making clarifying and technical changes to loan forgiveness and research grant programs; providing for school safety, general education, education excellence, teachers, special education, facilities and technology, libraries, early education, and state agencies; making forecast adjustments; modifying provisions governing children and families, licensing, state-operated services, chemical and mental health, community supports and continuing care, and health care; modifying Department of Human Services administrative funds transfer; establishing Minnesota Health Policy Commission; repealing preferred incontinence program in medical assistance; increasing reimbursement rates for doula services; modifying telemedicine service limits; modifying EPSDT screening payments; modifying capitation payment delay; modifying provisions relating to wells and borings; adding security screening systems to ionizing radiation-producing equipment regulation; authorizing statewide tobacco cessation services; establishing an opioid reduction pilot program; establishing a low-value health services study; requiring coverage of 3D mammograms; requiring disclosure of facility fees; establishing a step therapy override process; requiring the synchronization of prescription refills; prohibiting a health plan company from preventing a pharmacist from informing a patient of a price differential; converting allied health professionals to a birth month renewal cycle; modifying temporary license suspensions and background checks for health-related professions; requiring a prescriber to access the prescription monitoring program before prescribing certain controlled substances; authorizing the Board of Pharmacy to impose a fee from a prescriber or pharmacist accessing prescription monitoring data through a service offered by the board's vendor; requiring administrative changes at the Office of Health Facility Complaints; providing access to information and data sharing; making technical changes; requiring rulemaking; requiring reports
Yesterday, Governor Mark Dayton followed through on his promise and vetoed the recently passed tax-education bill and the Omnibus Supplemental Spending bill (aka Omnibus Prime). Both these bills increased government spending in a non-budget year, using up the majority of the state's $329 Million surplus. The tax bill provided modest tax rate cuts that wouldn't be fully implemented until 2020, along with conforming with the new federal tax law.
As predicted, following Dayton's veto, Republican legislators took to social media to criticize the Governor for his actions, putting all blame for the mess on his shoulders. There's truth in this criticism for sure. Despite getting nearly 75% of what he wanted, Dayton is unreasonable for holding taxpayers hostage next year by not signing the tax conformity bill. But when passing out blame for this mess, it would be useful for Republican legislators to look in the mirror.
We're in a situation now where Minnesota taxpayers will have more work to do when they file their taxes in 2019. Some middle income taxpayers will actually see their taxes go up. Without a tax conformity bill, the state's calculation of taxable income will differ with the federal one. Since the Legislature passed a two-year budget last year that fully funded government, the only item they needed to accomplish this session was to pass a tax bill.
Republicans started their negotiations with Dayton from a position of weakness. Right out of the gate, House Republicans introduced bills that would spend 2/3 of the $329 Million budget surplus, while only providing $107 Million in tax relief. Action 4 Liberty called upon the Legislature to give all of it back and not spend a dime more. That call fell on deaf ears in St Paul.
By the way, Republicans have been running on shrinking governmentfor the last couple years.
Not surprisingly, Governor Dayton's wishes were to spend the entire surplus and shift taxes so more Minnesotans paid a bigger bill. He's the most liberal governor in the history of Minnesota. Why would anyone expect him to not be on the most extreme left when starting negotiations.
If the negotiations between Dayton and Republicans were represented by a football field, Republicans would have started in field goal range of the liberal position.
The situation worsened as the Session Deadline approached. Dayton vetoed the weak Republican tax bill stating it needed to be tied to $138 Million in school emergency funding. So Republicans in the last week attached their tax bill to an education bill that would allocate over $200 Million in funding for schools and they also dropped good provisions in the tax bill to cater to the Governor's demands.
A week later, Dayton still vetoed the bill and stated he was not going to call a special session. If you're keeping score at this point: Dayton is up by two touchdowns! All action is now placed on Republicans if they truly want to get a tax bill done before next year. Dayton is calling all the shots and there's little ground left to gain.
Imagine for a minute that Republicans took our suggestion to give back the whole surplus and not spend a dime more. They would've had a whole football field of ground to work with, inevitably leading to a final deal better than their initial proposal.
It will be interesting to see where things go from here since there is no looming government shutdown and the campaign consultancy class will make everything henceforth about the upcoming November elections. After all, you taxpayers are second fiddle to the politicians' quest to retain their power.
Make no mistake about it. The mess that we're in right now is equally the fault of weak Republicans at the Capitol who are not standing for conservative principles. The data clearly shows we're getting a bad deal out of the Republican majority. Our website mnscorecard.comcurrently shows the average Senate Republican scoring a miserable 37%; only one point higher than the average in the DFL caucus. The Minnesota House's picture is even worse with Republicans behind the DFL in average legislator votes. Our scorecard evaluates bills on a simple criteria: does the bill expand freedoms while reducing government?
We recommend you confront your Republican legislator about this record. They were sent to St Paul to drain the swamp, not to help it grow. Don't let them forget that!
The Legislative Session came to a dramatic end late last night. Before adjourning sine die at midnight as required by our Constitution, the Legislature rushed massive spending bills to the floor. The bonding bill which totaled $825 Million of debt spending a week ago, showed up in the Senate at 11 pm last night as a different bill number and with a $1.5 Billion price tag. The bill had so much pork in it that it easily won support from several democrats, which was needed for the 3/5 majority threshold to pass.
The debt bill then headed to the Minnesota House floor and was introduced by its new author Rep Tim Miller. No debate occurred. Not a single legislator stood up and argued the bill's merits. So within minutes the clerk opened up the roll call and the bill passed 113 to 17. Only 7 Republicans voted against it.
Following the passage of the massive debt bill, the House took up the pension bailout bill (SF2620). This bill was introduced by its author, and like the debt bill, received no discussion or debate. It passed unanimously in the House, was sent over to the Senate, and received unanimous support in that chamber as well.
One could argue that Republicans last night summoned their inner-Pelosi and "passed a bill so they could see what was in it".
Both these bills were costly to Minnesota taxpayers. The pension bill lacked any significant reforms to the failing pension plan. It uses taxpayer money to bail out government employee's retirement funds. Meanwhile in the private sector, we're on our own when our 401ks under perform.
We've written a lot this session about the problems with the bonding (debt) bills. One can imagine how much worse the bill that doubles in size and is introduced at the last minute makes it.
On Saturday night, the Senate took up the Omnibus Supplemental Spending billat 10:30 pm, only an hour after the conference committee report was available. The bill was 998 pages. Senators debated the bill for an hour, with most Democrats arguing it didn't spend enough money. It ultimately passed with a vote of 35 to 32.
The spending bill then headed to the Minnesota House and debate began in the 1 am hour and lasted to 3 am. Despite its illegality of multiple subjects and its large price tag, the bill passed the Republican controlled house with a vote of 76 to 49.
Now that the session is over, we await Governor Dayton's signature. If he vetoes these bills, there might be a special session this summer. Regardless, there is no lingering government shutdown because all of this spending took place while the government was already fully funded under a two-year budget that passed last year.
Late last night, the Omnibus Supplemental Spending bill(SF3656) emerged from its conference committee and was taken up on the Senate floor. Senators had roughly one hour to read the 990 page bill before the floor debate began. Then, at about 12:15 am, the Senate voted and passed the massive bill that contains multiple subjects and grows government.
The House then began their debate on the bill at about 1:00 am, which lasted until around 3:00 in the morning. Democrats in both chambers argued the unconstitutionality of the multiple subjects (Article 1, Section 17) and pointed to the fact that Governor Dayton will veto the bill. Most Democrats voted against the bill due to the Bernie effect - vote against bills that don't spend enough money.
Seven total Republicans broke party lines to spend against the large spending bill. In the Senate, both Sen Fischbach and Sen Pratt voted no. In the House, Reps Bahr, Drazkowski, Hertaus, Lucero and Munson all opposed the bill.
Action 4 Liberty was against this bill for an onslaught of reasons. First and foremost, after Governor Dayton vetoed the tax conformity bill, we called on the Legislature to not send a single spending bill to the Governor's desk until he signs a new tax bill. Government is operating under a two-year budget that fully funds the agencies, so new spending is not needed.
We also feel its incumbent upon legislators to follow the Constitution which clearly states that a bill must be single subject, and that subject expressly written in the title. Lastly, it's not wise to support legislation that no one reads and is voted on in the middle of the night.
Action 4 Liberty scored this bill.
There's no looming government shutdown. No doom and gloom scenario upcoming. The state government is fully funded and operating under a two-year budget.
So when Governor Mark Dayton used his pen this morning to veto the Legislature's tax conformity bill, he showed Minnesota taxpayers where his true allegiance lies. Instead of approving a bill that will save taxpayers headaches next year during tax time and providing a modest income tax reduction, Mark Dayton wants those same taxpayers across the state to bail out a handful of school districts.
Dayton is representing a perverted view of governance here. He's promoting the view that the government owns your money and should spend it on whatever it deems necessary. This view is in stark contrast to the conservative view of empowering individuals and families to make decisions with their own money.
Action 4 Liberty calls upon Republican legislators to not cave into the demands of Governor Dayton. Do not send a spending bill or bonding bill to Dayton's desk until he signs the tax conformity bill. The only thing that needs to be done this legislative session is to conform to the new federal tax law.
The deadline for passing bills this year is Sunday at midnight. Contact your Republican legislator today and tell him or her to vote against any spending or bonding bill until the tax conformity bill is signed by Governor Dayton.
The Minnesota Senate failed to pass its massive debt bill today that would add $825 Million on the state credit card. HF4404, known as the Capital Investment bill, is a bonding bill that requires a 60% majority in order to pass. The vote was a strict party line vote of 34 to 33, failing to get the 41 needed votes for passage.
Democrats voted against the bill because they didn't think the debt bill was large enough. An amendment was voted down prior to the final vote that would've adopted the projects Governor Dayton wanted to see in a bonding bill. These projects would've brought the bill's final price tag to $1.5 Billion.
Action 4 Liberty opposes adding any more debt spending after government spending already grew by 9.5% this biennium. On top of that, the bill was full of pork projects that are wasting tax dollars. The bill was scored on mnscorecard.com.
Governor Dayton is holding Minnesota taxpayers hostage by threatening to veto the Republican tax bill if the Legislature does not provide $138 Million to bail out a handful of school districts around the state. As it stands right now, the only thing necessary for the Legislature and Governor to do this session is to pass a tax conformity bill that would save Minnesota taxpayers severe headaches and money next year when they file their state taxes. Under current law, the state income tax forms do not conform with the new federal forms created with the Trump tax cuts.
The state faces a $329 Million surplus which in part is due to the new federal tax cuts. Both the House and Senate have passed their own tax bills, with the Senate bill ensuring 99% of Minnesotans don't see a tax hike. The two tax bills are currently being worked out in a joint conference committee. The deadline to pass laws is midnight on Sunday.
Dayton's threat is as extreme as it comes. If there is no tax conformity bill, millions of Minnesota tax filers will suffer and pay. Meanwhile, Dayton is asking those same taxpayers to bail out school districts who didn't responsibly manage their own budgets.
Action 4 Liberty believes the Legislature should send Dayton the tax bill immediately and refuse to pass any spending bill until its signed into law. Republicans should not cave to Mark Dayton.
The Republican controlled House passed a massive debt bill today by a vote of 84-39. Only four Republican legislators voted against the $825 Million package that would send our state further into debt, with Rep Jeremy Munson being the only one to speak against the bill on the House floor.
Despite facing a $329 Million budget surplus, Republican legislators have decided to spend the majority of that money and add more spending in the form of debt. Spending projects in the bill range from important infrastructure updates to pork projects that are wasting millions of dollars of taxpayer money.
Action 4 Liberty opposes adding more debt to the state credit card. Good projects that end up in the bonding bills should be appropriated from the general funds account.