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This St. Cloud Times article reads like a Dayton administration press release. Here’s the newsy part of the Dayton press release:

Gov. Mark Dayton’s announcement Thursday that up to $46 million will be spent as soon as summer to expand Interstate Highway 94 between Rogers and St. Michael is extremely welcome news.

As Dayton and Minnesota Department of Transportation Charlie Zelle noted in meeting with this board prior to the announcement, these bonding dollars are not just a down payment on expanding this critical corridor all the way to St. Cloud, but in providing the funding necessary to maintain and expand roads and highways statewide.

Nowhere in the Dayton press release did they talk about the Dayton administration’s disapproval for the expansion project when they attempted to thwart Michele Bachmann’s proposal:

But Minnesota Department of Transportation spokesman Kevin Gutknecht said the I-94 widening doesn’t rank high on the agency’s long-term list of priority projects. “There are projects like this all across the state — really good projects, really important projects, projects that have tremendous support like this,” he said. “It all really boils down to the funding piece.”

It’s clear that the Dayton administration is talking out of both sides of its mouth. Here’s how the Times attempts to spin this project:

The focus of Corridors of Commerce is to improve roads that are bottlenecked or considered critical to regional economic development but not funded under MnDOT’s latest “fiscally constrained” 20-year transportation plan.

That’s insulting. MnDOT’s budget isn’t “fiscally constrained.” It’s politically constrained, especially when Michele Bachmann was trying to get I-94 expanded. Back then, MnDOT said directly that I-94 expansion didn’t “rank high on the agency’s…priority projects.” Back then, MnDOT’s spokesman hinted that the expansion ranked behind “really important projects.”

Gov. Dayton’s facade is that of a nice guy. When politics are involved, he’s a sharp-elbowed ideologue. I’m betting that he’s only supporting the I-94 expansion to get support for a massive tax increase to pay for his light rail projects. Minnesotans are taxed too much already. The last thing we need is to raise taxes to support failed light rail projects.

When Steve Murphy’s Transportation Tax Bill passed in 2008, I predicted that the DFL would whine that the tax increase wasn’t enough to add lanes to roads. I also predicted that they’d be back for another massive tax increase. It took them longer than I expected but they’re back asking for another major tax increase.

Expanding I-94 is the right thing to do. That’s why Michele Bachmann fought for it. Gov. Dayton isn’t as interested in doing the right thing as he is interested in playing politics with economic growth. Gov. Dayton didn’t like the expansion until he was pressured by David Fitzsimmons, Mary Kiffmeyer and other Republicans from central Minnesota.

Minnesota needs a governor who does the right thing for the right reasons. We don’t need a governor who moistens his finger before making a policy decision.

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Watching this video should make President Obama cringe:

I wrote here about Sen. Reid’s hissy fit from this morning. Now he’s put his foot in his mouth when asked a question about not funding the National Institute of Health, saying that there are all kinds of people that government should be helping. In saying this, he’s essentially said that saving a child with cancer isn’t as important as some of his constituents in Nevada.

During this morning’s temper tantrum, Sen. Reid said that Republicans were experiencing a bad week. If he thinks they’re having a bad week, he should look in the mirror. It’s looking like he won the disastrous week from hell grand prize. Sen. Reid’s head must be ready to explode, especially after hearing about this:

House Republicans plan to keep trying their new piecemeal approach to solving the shutdown, setting up yet another round of votes Wednesday on bills that would fund veterans affairs and national parks and adding new bills to fund the National Institutes of Health and to pay the National Guard and the military reserves.

Earlier this week, President Obama promised to veto the bill. In light of the disastrous week he’s had, it wouldn’t be surprising if he hadn’t changed his mind.

Wow! I’d initially posted the abridged version of the exchange between Sen. Reid and CNN’s Dana Bash but I’ve replaced it with the full exchange between Sen. Reid and Ms. Bash. The unabridged version makes Sen. Reid look positively deranged.

BASH: If you all talked about children with cancer unable to go to clinical trials, the House is likely to pass a bill to at least fund the NIH, given what you’ve said, will you at least pass that, and if not, aren’t you playing the same political games that Republicans are?
SEN. REID: Listen, Sen. Durbin explained that very well. He did it here. He did it on the floor. What right do they have to pick and choose which parts of the government to fund? It’s obvious what’s going on here. You talk about reckless and irresponsible. Wow! What this is all about is Obamacare. They are obsessed with Obamacare. I don’t know what other word I can use. I don’t know what other word I can use. They’re obsessed with this Obamacare thing. It’s working now and it willl continue to work and they’ll love it even more than they do now by far. So they have no right to pick and choose.
BASH: But if you could help one child with cancer, why wouldn’t you do it?
SEN. REID: Listen, why would we want to do that? I have 1,100 people at Nellis Air Force Base that are sitting home. They have a few problems of their own. This is — to have someone of your intelligence ask such a thing is irresponsible.
BASH: I’m just asking a question.

That isn’t just cringeworthy. That’s downright nasty. That type of public image is why Democrats are losing a fight that the media wants them to win. The media however, isn’t willing to go to any length to defend the Democrats. This is one of those instances where they won’t defend the Democrats.

Tonight’s meeting at the White House can’t arrive too soon for Sen. Reid, President Obama and the Democrats. Right now, they look like the gang that juggled scissors while running up a set of stairs.

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This LTE contains a disturbing scene:

I attended both Voter ID public hearings in the city of Rochester during this election year. I went there hoping to learn more about the proposed amendment, along with hearing more from the opposing point of view.

I didn’t realize I was in for such a rude awakening. Most of the hearing consisted of people shouting and talking over the representatives from both sides on the issue.

I completely respect the idea of the First Amendment and the freedom of speech. Unfortunately, people seem to believe it applies only when the speaker’s point of view agrees with their own.

When speaking with Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer after the hearing in Rochester, she stated this was the worst reception she had ever received. One lady verbally attacked her right in front of me, along with a young man grabbing her arm on the way out of the forum.

I decided, with a group of like-minded individuals, to escort her out of the building.

This is the face of DFL activism. Though this incident involved the proposed Photo ID constitutional amendment, this isn’t the only time DFL activism has gone way past the line. I wrote about another incident where the DFL activists’ behavior was disgusting. This is a firsthand report from a legislator:

What became unnerving was that last night as we moved closer to the vote they got louder and faster. There was one woman who screeched every time the main doors opened. Made me long for a pair of socks. It was an experience I will remember a long time. Especially seeing the backs of the state troopers–as they lined up shoulder to shoulder to keep the crowd from touching us. And the screaming, “Shame! Shame!” at us. Doesn’t really go with earlier in the evening when they were singing Amazing Grace, and shouting “No Hate”. Of course, they seemed to think it was perfectly loving to scream “Bigot” 10 inches from my face and spit on one of the other reps. (By the way, he has MS, walks with a cane and is a little slower. No hate, right?

This past session, the DFL spoke in public about the need for compromise. They spoke of it as the political Holy Grail. The DFL’s hypocrisy was exposed because they took a my-way-or-the-highway approach when they were the majority party in the legislature. From 2007-2010, there weren’t calls for civility and compromise. Those words were quickly forgotten.

Thanks to ABM’s lies and the Twin Cities’ media’s unwillingness to call them on their disgusting pattern of lying, progressive fascism has displaced Minnesota Nice. Here’s hoping that Republicans take principled stands against the DFL’s bad policies.

More importantly, here’s hoping the GOP articulately explains why they’re opposing the DFL’s counterproductive policies. Only through clear articulation of our principles will we win debates. We won’t win elections if we don’t win the debates.

The good news is that positive solutions will quickly discredit progressive fascism’s chalking points.

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Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer’s op-ed in the Princeton Union-Eagle is a devastating criticism of Secretary Ritchie’s scare tactics in opposition to the proposed Photo ID constitutional amendment.

This criticism is particularly sharp:

He’s said that members of the Armed Forces deployed overseas would be unable to vote if the Voter ID amendment passes. As the chief election officer of the state, Ritchie should be familiar with the MOVE Act and UOCAVA ballots under federal law and thus should be fully aware that military absentee ballots are not affected by state laws. Not even an amendment to the State Constitution can hinder military balloting.

If Mr. Ritchie isn’t aware of these laws, then he isn’t qualified to be Minnesota’s Secretary of State. If Mr. Ritchie is aware of these laws but lies to scare people in an attempt to get them to vote no on the proposed constitutional amendment, he’s too corrupt to be Minnesota’s Secretary of State.

Secretary Ritchie is ignoring the word “substantially” and argues that eligibility verification cannot be accomplished on election day in the polling place. He claims that all 500,000 same-day registrants in Minnesota would therefore have to cast a provisional ballot to be counted later.

Ritchie’s intellectual dishonesty is disgusting. It isn’t reasonable to assume that everyone using EDR doesn’t have a drivers license or state-issued ID card. Still, that’s precisely what Mr. Ritchie does with this thinking.

It’s important to ask Mr. Ritchie why he’d make that assumption. I suspect he doesn’t really think that but that he’s just employing that as a scare tactic. Mr. Ritchie knows that anyone who uses EDR will cast a regular ballot if they present a state-issued Photo ID.

Mr. Ritchie can’t admit that, though, because that’d destroy another of his chanting points. If he admits to the truth, his arguments crumple.

His office claims that almost one million voters would have problems voting. This defies logic.

There are approximately 4,000,000 registered voters in Minnesota. In making that type of claim, Mr. Ritchie’s office is claiming that one-fourth of Minnesota’s registered voters don’t have a state-issued form of photgraphic identification.

It’s time for Mr. Ritchie to stop with the fearmongering. It’s time he started telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

It’s time people recognized Mr. Ritchie’s corruption.

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The ACLU of Minnesota, the League of Women Voters-Minnesota, Common Cause MN and Jewish Community Action filed suit yesterday to keep the Photo ID constitutional amendment off of November’s ballot:

The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota, the League of Women Voters Minnesota, Jewish Community Action and Common Cause Minnesota are petitioning the state Supreme Court to strike down the voter ID ballot question, because they claim it would create one of the most restrictive election laws in the country.

Chuck Samuelson, executive director of the ACLU Minnesota, said during a news conference at a downtown Minneapolis law office that the proposed constitutional amendment would do far more than what the question describes. Samuelson said there’s no mention of a new provisional ballot system or the potential end of same-day registration.

“We believe that the voters of Minnesota have a right to know what they’re voting on,” Samuelson said. “This petition is about ensuring that all Minnesota voters know the full extent of what this amendment could do and the impact it could have on hundreds of thousands of Minnesota voters.”

This isn’t unexpected. In fact, DFL legislators started laying the groundwork for it during floor debates this session.

Rep. Ryan Winkler and other DFL legislators insisted that the real intent of the constitutional amendment was to eliminate same day registration. That’s nothing more than the DFL’s typical fearmongering.

Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer frequently informed DFL legislators that eliminating same day registration wasn’t part of the constitutional amendment.

Eliminating same day registration isn’t planned. If it were, why would there be a need for provisional ballots? Secretary of State Mark Ritchie admitted as much during a visit to St. Cloud recently.

Pentelovitch also believes that the proposed voter ID requirement would essentially end Minnesota’s tradition of same-day registration. He said that’s because election officials will face too many complications at polling places trying to verify the identification of voters. But voter ID supporters firmly disagree.

“That is not true. That is absolutely not true,” said Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson, a chief sponsor of the voter ID constitutional amendment bill.

Newman said the practice of vouching for the identity of other voters will end. But he insists eligible Minnesotans will still be able to show up at their polling place on Election Day and register to vote, even without an identification.

“If they show up on Election Day without the requisite identification, they will be allowed register,” he said. “They will be allowed to vote. But their vote will be provisional, and it will not count unless and until they come back with the necessary identification.”

It’s time to get rid of the voter fraud in Minnesota. Yes, there’s voter fraud here. It’s just that people like Mark Ritchie and Joe Mansky haven’t been looking for it.

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Tuesday night, Mark Ritchie travelled to St. Cloud to talk about the photo ID constitutional amendment. His presentation lasted approximately 20 minutes, which was followed by a 15 minute Q and A period.

During his presentation, Secretary Ritchie talked about the great expense of a photo ID system. Ritchie also spoke about how people lose their drivers licenses, then don’t get their replacement license for “sometimes up to 3 or 4 weeks.” Ritchie made the point that, if we went to a provisional ballot system, people who had lost their license just prior to that election “would have to do this”, at which point Ritchie crossed his fingers.

First, the odds of a person losing their drivers license right before the election are tiny. Further, if it’s taking the DMV 3-4 weeks to process a drivers license, then the DMV needs a top-to-bottom overhaul. Either that or that function needs to be privatized immediately.

Prior to his presentation, Secretary Ritchie handed out an information packet to everyone in the audience. Part of that information packet was an op-ed written by Randy Maluchnik, the president of the Association of Minnesota Counties.

In his op-ed, Mr. Maluchnik states that “Minnesota’s counties currently do an excellent job of administering fair and open elections across a state with significant geographic challenges. The lack of any significant voter irregularity for decades supports this assertion.”

With all due respect to Mr. Maluchnik, the fact that Minnesota’s counties haven’t noticed “any significant voter irregularity for decades” doesn’t prove anything except that counties haven’t detected significant amounts of voting irregularities. It’s quite possible that it’s happening. It’s equally possible that it hasn’t been detected because it’s impossible to find the things that people refuse to look for.

Another of Secretary Ritchie’s stories was about a felon who’d just gotten released from prison. According to Secretary Ritching, the newly-released felon had “turned his life around” and was living in Warroad, MN. Ritchie then said that Warroad was “near the North Dakota border.” According to MapQuest, Warroad is over 75 miles from North Dakota.

Again, according to Secretary Ritchie, the just-released felon didn’t know that he couldn’t vote. Again, according to Secretary Ritchie, this man called his parole officer. He left a message on the parole officer’s voicemail saying that he was going to vote. By the time the parole officer responded, the felon had voted, requiring him to be charged with a felony.

According to former Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer, prisoners that are about to be released are instructed that they aren’t eligible to vote until they’ve finished parole and the Secretary of State’s office informs them that their voting rights have been reinstated.

When asked about felons voting, Secretary Ritchie almost squirmed out of his skin. He talked about the felon in Warroad. He talked about how the laws in North and South Dakota are different than Minnesota’s election laws.

What’s striking is that he never addressed how hundreds of felons had voted illegally and had gotten convicted of voter fraud. According to Rep. Kiffmeyer, it’s almost impossible to convict a felon for committing voter fraud because it requires proving that the felon voted knowing that he or she wasn’t eligible to vote.

According to Rep. Kiffmeyer, that’s why few cases are even brought to trial.

UPDATE: Follow this link to read more aboout Secretary Ritchie’s visit to St. Cloud.

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For the past 5 years plus, Republicans have refered to erstwhile Gov. Arne Carlson as a RINO. Today, I’m setting the record straight. He isn’t a RINO. He’s a Democrat. PERIOD. This video attack on Mary Kiffmeyer, his buying into the DFL’s lies about Photo ID as voter suppression, suggest that he isn’t in touch with reality.

Here’s a transcript of the interview:

CARLSON: Be that as it may, I grew up in the Bronx of New York City. We never owned a car. Where would I get a Photo ID. This is the party of Abraham Lincoln. This is the party of Theodore Roosevelt. This is the party of Dwight Eisenhower, the party of Ronald Reagan. They welcomed people in.

When did we suddenly turn over the keys to voting to Kiffmeyer to decide who can and who cannot participate?

Gov. Carlson’s argument is flimsy It isn’t Rep. Kiffmeyer that’s deciding “who can and who cannot participate.” It’s the Minnesota Constitution that’s determining who can or can’t particate.

It’s important that the Minnesota Constitution isn’t seen as a cold document, either. It’s been ratified by the people through their elected representatives. It’s the voice of the people. Marty Seifert liked to highlight the saying inside the House floor, which read “The voice of the people is the voice of God.”

That’s essentially who Gov. Carlson is arguing against when he’s arguing against the requirements in Minnesota’s Constitution. Specifically, it’s who he’s arguing against when he’s arguing against Section VII of the Minnesota Constitution, titled Elective Franchise. Here’s the relevant portion:

ARTICLE VII
ELECTIVE FRANCHISE

Section 1. ELIGIBILITY; PLACE OF VOTING; INELIGIBLE PERSONS. Every person 18 years of age or more who has been a citizen of the United States for three months and who has resided in the precinct for 30 days next preceding an election shall be entitled to vote in that precinct. The place of voting by one otherwise qualified who has changed his residence within 30 days preceding the election shall be prescribed by law. The following persons shall not be entitled or permitted to vote at any election in this state: A person not meeting the above requirements; a person who has been convicted of treason or felony, unless restored to civil rights; a person under guardianship, or a person who is insane or not mentally competent.

Sec. 2. RESIDENCE. For the purpose of voting no person loses residence solely by reason of his absence while employed in the service of the United States; nor while engaged upon the waters of this state or of the United States; nor while a student in any institution of learning; nor while kept at any almshouse or asylum; nor while confined in any public prison. No soldier, seaman or marine in the army or navy of the United States is a resident of this state solely in consequence of being stationed within the state.

It’s fairly straightforward. Only those people who meet these constitutionally mandated requirements should be allowed to vote. In fact, letting people that don’t meet these requirements isn’t allowed.

This isn’t a matter of welcoming people into the state. That’s the phoniest argument I’ve ever heard. It’s about following the requirements established by Minnesota’s Constitution. It’s about following the laws of a sovereign government.

What Gov. Carlson is arguing for is a system without uniformity, a system where each county, city or township uses their own rules. That isn’t the rule of law.

There’s a reason why these requirements were put into Minnesota’s Constituion, not into each city’s charter. The purpose was to create uniformity so that the people of Minnesota played by the same rules, whether they lived in Duluth, Caledonia, St. Cloud, Alexandria, St. Paul or Moorhead.

Without knowing who’s voting, it’s impossible to know if the people who get ballots meet the constitutional requirements for voting. At a time when voter fraud is running rampant, it’s imperative that we know without doubt that the people getting ballots are who they say they are.

And yes, there’s tons of proof of voter fraud. That’s beyond dispute. The sad truth is that Common Cause MN and the League of Women Voters-MN have denied the existence of voter fraud despite the abundance of proof. It’s sad that these organizations enthusiastically participate in echoing the DFL’s spin.

Passing the Photo ID constitutional amendment ballot won’t end their spin but it will help clean up Minnesota’s election system.

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During yesterday’s Rules Committee hearing on HF2738, DFL Rep. Norton asked some questions that HF2738 Chief Auther Rep. Kiffmeyer answered. Here’s a partial transcript of their exchange:

REP. NORTON: As I looked at the bill, it seems to me that, if you show up same day voting, you’re going to have to be verified if you don’t have photo ID. How will that happen?
REP. KIFFMEYER: In regards to same day voting, first of all, there will be a very strong voter education effort, mailings, hotlines, working with Catholic Charities, Lutheran Social Services. I’m confident that if this passes the voters, that we will enact it in a bipartisan fashion to make sure that we are inclusive to get every single voter to get them the ID. I’m confident, Rep. Norton, that we will work together to do that, that there will be no disenfranchisement.
REP. NORTON: Mr. Chairman, the question still hasn’t been…If a person comes and wants to vote on the same day and they do not have ID, how will you make certain that we will continue with that strong voter turnout? What will the process be for that voter?
REP. KIFFMEYER: In regards to that, starting first of all with the voter education campaign, making it very clear concerted effort. If, after all of that, if on election day, they still do not have their voter ID, they will be able to cast a provisional ballot.
REP. NORTON: That is a concern to me and a concern to many voters who want their vote counted on the day of the election.

Rep. Norton’s last statement is troubling. Provisional balloting has been federal law since 2002. HAVA, aka the Help America Vote Act, received overwhelming bipartisan support:

A bill to require States and localities to meet uniform and nondiscriminatory election technology and administration requirements applicable to Federal elections, to establish grant programs to provide assistance to States and localities to met those requirements and to improve election technology and the administration of Federal elections, to establish the Election Administration Commission, and for other purposes.
Vote Counts:
YEAs: 92
NAYs: 2
Not Voting: 6

A substantive U.S. Senate bill that gets 92 votes has strong bipartisan support. The only senators voting against HAVA were Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton. Even Mark Dayton voted for provisional ballots. The system has been in place since the 2004 election. It’s been praised by Republicans and Democrats alike. Why would Rep. Norton have a problem with provisional ballots?

In going through the audio for the Rules Committee hearing, Rep. John Benson’s statement jumped off the page. Here’s what he said:

REP. JOHN BENSON: Just a comment first. Constitutional amendments should be bipartisan and so I think that’s one of the biggest problems I have. We have a proposal here which is very partisan and usually, constitutional amendments have more broad support.

That statement is infuriating. Photo ID has overwhelming bipartisan support. It just doesn’t have broad bipartisan legislative support. That’s a major distinction that can’ be ignored.

It’s a major distinction because rank-and-file Democrats support the bill by a 59%-41% margin. In fact, as I wrote here, Photo ID has overwhelming support across the political spectrum:

Party affiliation – Yes, 92% of Republicans support voter ID. So do 76% of independents…and 59% of those wingnutty Democrats in Minnesota, too.

I’ve said it before and I’ll repeat it again. If the DFL wants to ignore their constituents while obeying their special interest masters, that’s their right, at least until the next election.

The most contentious moment in the hearing came when Rep. Thissen threw a hissy fit. Here’s that exchange:

REP. THISSEN: I did want to follow up on one answer you gave previously. Ccan you just tell me — I don’t need alot of sentences, just kind of short answers that answers the question — what on an ID — what’s going to be on an ID that’s going to be on the poll book that Rep. Norton is talking about? … So I’m wondering what you’re expecting to see that isn’t going to be in this electronic poll book with pictures because you’ve kinda said “Well, it’s different.” I’d just like you to explain it to me, and you don’t have to use alot of words. I just want to know what you’re looking for in addition to what’s in this poll book that’s going to be on an ID.
REP. KIFFMEYER: First of all, a photo alone is an unreliable…
REP. THISSEN: It’s not photo alone…
REP. DEAN: Rep. Thissen, Rep. Kiffmeyer is trying to answer your question. If you would simply allow her to answer your question with the respect she deserves, Rep. Thissen…

Rep. Thissen’s spoiled brat routine is getting tiresome. Most importantly, it’s mostly a contrived act. It’s time Rep. Thissen started acting like a leader, not a high school punk.

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It’s fact that the vast majority of DFL legislators voted against creating the Sunset Commission. Now that the Sunset Commission has officially been signed into law, the question turns to whether DFL appointees will attempt to sabotage the Commission’s efforts.

That’s still to be determined but it’s safe to say that expectations aren’t high. According to this article, outsiders are already tamping down expectations:

But William Eggers, a corporate consultant who worked for a similar commission in Texas isn’t as optimistic. “Your chances of succeeding, I’m going to be frank with you, are not very high,” he said.

Eggers told the Minnesota Sunset Commission last month that similar efforts in several other states failed because they didn’t take their jobs seriously enough.

“The one thing I will guarantee you is that without resources from a staff perspective, this will not succeed.”

Hiring additional staff to work on a commission whose goal is to a) reduce the size of government and b) improve service levels is like hiring an atheist to give the Christmas message. There’s no questioning that there’s alot of work to this commission. There’s also no questioning the fact that they should be frugal.

No one on the board indicates whether they will recommend any cuts this year. But behind the scenes, agencies and their advocates have been working to make their case.

For example, people supporting the Council on Black Minnesotans sent an email calling on others to attend a Sunset Commission hearing to show support for the council. Rosella Collins-Puoch is the vice-chair of the Council on Black Minnesotans. She doesn’t think the Sunset Commission will try to eliminate her organization.

“People understand that communities of color still have many many challenges and there has to be some entities that ensure Africans and African Americans are treated equitably in the state of Minnesota,” Collins-Puoch said.

How many Minnesotans knew that there was a state government agency titled The Council on Black Minnesotans? I didn’t. Would it surprise you to find out that there are other state agencies for other minority groups? I don’t know that there are but I wouldn’t be surprised if there were.

If there are multiple agencies with the goal of aiding communities of color, do they share the same back-staff? That’s what Sen. Mike Parry wants to know:

Others, like Sen. Mike Parry,R-Waseca, said the Sunset Commission may look to consolidate agencies that are duplicating work. He said no agency should consider itself on the chopping block but said officials had better be prepared to answer how they’re spending public money.

“If they are out of the chute worried about not being in existence, that might lead some to believe that maybe they shouldn’t have been there in the first place. That’s why I’m hoping that all of the boards and agencies realize this is not and never was intended to be any kind of witch-hunt,” Parry said.

Minnesotans aren’t an ATM to be tapped whenever a legislator wants to pander to one organization or constituency group. I’m not arguing that creating the Council on Black Minnesotans was pandering, though I won’t rule that possibility out.

I’m simply saying that politicians have a habit of using other people’s money to pay off constituencies they’ll need for re-election. Having looked through a budget or two in my lifetime, I can state with 100% certainty that alot of these types of commissions, councils and agencies don’t appear to have meaningful responsibilities.

I can also state without hesitation that alot of these commissions, councils and agencies get created by stuffing them into omnibus spending bills.

Thanks to King Banaian’s legislation, we now have a mechanism to a) shine a spotlight on these agencies and b) recommend the elimination or reorganization of these agencies.

The question now remains is whether the DFL will work quietly to sabotage the Commission’s efforts. They can’t afford to look obstructionist but they can’t afford to alienate their special interest allies, either.

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When I read Mary Lahammer’s MinnPost post, one of the first questions I had was whether Rep. Ryan Winkler’s schtick is spin or ignorance. Here’s the context:

After Governor Mark Dayton vetoed a bill to require photo identification to vote, Republican lawmakers plan to put the issue on the ballot. Constitutional amendments don’t need the governor’s signature to go directly to Minnesota voters. Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer (R-Big Lake) said “The legislation has overwhelming public support especially among our younger voters and women. Clearly this is what Minnesota wants.” State Senator Scott Newman (R-Hutchinson) is the co-author of the bill that would put a voter ID question on the 2012 ballot.

A recent poll showed overwhelming support:

Age demographics – The lowest level of support in age groups comes from seniors, who back voter ID 69/23. The best support comes, surprisingly, from the youngest voters (18-34YOs) at 82/12.
Party affiliation – Yes, 92% of Republicans support voter ID. So do 76% of independents … and 59% of those wingnutty Democrats in Minnesota, too. Among Tea Party “members,” voter ID enjoys 93% support. And for those who don’t identify with the Tea Party, support plummets all the way to … 74%. Along ideological lines, liberals were least likely to support it — at 67%, the second-lowest level of support among all demographics.
Education – Surely, support must be coming from the mouthbreathers, right? High-school graduates give a 79% level of support, almost the same as the 78% among those with some college education. Those with degrees are a little more discerning … at 75%.
Income level – It won’t be much of a surprise to know that those making six figures support voter ID 73/25. It will be a surprise to Dayton to find that those making less than $50K per year support it even more, 78/14.
Region – Like all of the other demographics, there isn’t much difference between the Twin Cities demo (76/19) and the rural area of western Minnesota (81/15). In each region, support is at 75% or higher.

This is wildly popular across the state and with every demographic group imaginable. This is a no-brainer for non-politicians. Here’s what Rep. Winkler said in reaction to the constitutional question legislation:

“And just like the anti-marriage amendment, they want to change our state’s constitution just to restrict basic rights of Minnesotans. This helps not one Minnesota family. Worse, it is a counterproductive distraction to resolving our budget deficit when time is of the essence.”

The last I checked, neither Rep. Kiffmeyer nor Sen. Newman are part of the budget negotiations. That begs the question of how Rep. Kiffmeyer’s and Sen. Newman’s press conference distracts from anything happening in St. Paul.

As for Rep. Winkler’s claim that this proposed constitutional amendment will restrict Minnesotans’ basic rights, this is part of the DFL’s talking points.

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