This morning, KNSI’s Dan Ochsner did his morning show from the State Capitol. The first interview I heard was with Rep. Dan Severson and Sen. Michelle Fischbach. The highlights of that interview are as follows:

Rep. Severson said that he’s working on several things but that the most important legislation he’s working on is the Photo ID legislation that Tom Emmer is writing. Rep. Severson said that he’s co-sponsoring. Rep. Severson said that he’s also working on a bill that will make Minnesota more inviting to retired veterans. Rep. Severson cited the fact that Minnesota is one of only 5 states that taxes veterans’ retirement checks. Severson said that he worked with Gov. Pawlenty last session to pass a $750 tax credit but that still isn’t enough.

Severson said that getting more retired military veterans in the state is a positive thing because veterans are talented people who’d fit right into Minnesota’s workforce.

Sen. Fischbach said that she, too, would be co-sponsoring the Senate Photo ID bill and that she’ll also be working on reforming the Green Acres bill affecting rural property taxes.

Both legislators talked about Tarryl Clark’s taking $30,000+ in per diem in the context of the legislature needing to show leadership in cutting costs with the oversized deficit. Both legislators also talked about the mysterious school bus that showed up at several St. Cloud polling places. They didn’t call for a formal investigation of the incident. Rather, they chose to use that as a justification for the PhotoID bill, saying that requiring people to show their ID would eliminate the possibility of people voting where they aren’t eligible to vote.

Sen. Fischbach even talked about her counselling a young person from her district to vote absentee in Paynesville because that was this young person’s hometown. This young person is currently attending college.

Next up was Rep. Tom Emmer. Rep. Emmer said that he’s authoring the PhotoID legislation. Rep. Emmer said that people claim that this will have an adverse affect on turnout. Rep. Emmer said that the statistics from this election, especially from Georgia and Indiana, say that that argument isn’t credible. Rep. Emmer also talked about a man he met on the bus heading to the Capitol who wore a button saying “I Voted Twice.” Rep. Emmer said that, since the man identified himself as a Twin Cities resident, he asked “How do you know that both votes got counted”?

Here’s the quote about photo ID Rep. Emmer made that jumped out most at me:

“They may have the votes but we’ve got the people on our side.”

I totally agree with Rep. Emmer’s statement. The DFL will be putting themselves on the 10 percent side of a 90 percent-10 percent issue. There are no indications that any DFL legislators will initially vote for Rep. Emmer’s legislation. This is almost an article of faith type thing within the DFL.

Rep. Emmer then talked about a bill that he submitted that would’ve returned per diem levels to where they were 4 years ago, which was then $55 a day. Rep. Emmer said that Rep. Tony Sertich “did what he always does when he doesn’t agree with a bill”, he sent it to the Rules Committee “where it will never be seen again.” Rep. Severson talked about that bill, too.

It seems to me that $55 a day during the session is more than sufficient for the legislators’ eating and other incidental expenses. It’s important to remember that legislators get money for travel expenses and that outstate legislators get a substantial housing allowance, too.

Next up were Larry Haws and Steve Gottwalt. Larry is saying that taking the budget one item at a time “makes for good radio” but that “we have to look at everything.” Of course, we have to look at everything but I don’t know how we can cut down the ‘overspending forest’ if we don’t start chopping down each overspending tree. You have to have a starting point and going item-by-item is the most efficient way of looking at everything.

Rep. Gottwalt made the point that “We can’t just look at jobs from the perspective of the jobs of today” but that legislators had to “look at the jobs of the future, too.” Rep. Gottwalt and Rep. Haws are both assigned to the Bioscience and Workforce Development Policy & Oversight Division, with Steve being the Minority Lead on the committee.

Rep. Haws said that some of the legislation that that committee will deal with breaks more along geographical lines rather than along partisan lines, saying that places like Rochester and the Twin Cities don’t necessarily like biosciences jobs going to other cities. If that’s accurate, which I think it is, that isn’t dissimilar to the education budget.

Mary Kiffmeyer was this morning’s last guest. She talked about her high expectations of working with Steve Gottwalt on the State and Local Government Operations Reform, Technology & Elections committee, saying that “Steve is a gifted legislator” who works hard on all the issues. The impression I got was that they’d work well together on the elections committee.

Rep. Kiffmeyer’s talked about PhotoID, too. She said that “this isn’t about proving voter fraud”, that “it’s also about holding smooth-runing elections.” She said that most people would be surprised that you don’t have to prove that they’re valid voters. Rep. Kiffmeyer agreed with Rep. Emmer that 9 in 10 people would agree that presenting photo identification should be required.

Another thing that she gets bothered about the unequal treatment of people in the registration process. Rep. Kiffmeyer said that people that pre-register have their registration screened but those that use same-day registration don’t have their registration scrutinized. She said that people have to have reasons to trust the electoral process.

At this point, it’s difficult to picture how they can have confidence in that process.

Another thing that jumped out at me was the amount of references made to the mysterious school bus that showed up at several voting places in St. Cloud on Election Day. Rep. Emmer, Sen. Fischbach and Rep. Severson all brought that up. This incident isn’t going away. Rest assured that something will come of this incident, too. A simple check of the polling place’s signin sheet will tell investigators if anyone voted in a precinct where they didn’t reside. It might also tell investigators if anyone voted more than once in Minnesota.

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2 Responses to “Hot Talk With the Ox: State Capitol Edition”

  • Drew Emmer says:

    There’s more useful news in your post than in most of the pro journalist produced articles in a month of newspapers. Keep on keeping the people informed! Thank you!

  • Gary Gross says:

    Drew, Thanks first for that compliment. I don’t view this as work, rather as a labor of love.

    If accurate information about the day’s most important topics doesn’t get out in a timely fashion, then We The People can’t make informed decisions.

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