Honorable Mention Senate:
Al DeKruif, Gretchen Hoffman, Benjamin Kruse, Warren Limmer, Julianne Ortman, Dave Thompson, Ray Vandeveer
Honorable Mention House:
Bruce Anderson, Kurt Bills, Kurt Daudt, Tom Hackbarth, David Hancock, Mary Kiffmeyer, Ernie Leidiger, Tara Mack, Joyce Peppin, Chris Swedzinski
LEA GROUP EXPOSES INCREASED DISREGARD FOR PROPER PROCEDURES
Most Surprising and Least Surprising Legislative Outcomes of 2012:
LEA President John Augustine contends that one of the most surprising outcomes was “the people’s representatives abdicating much of their appropriation authority on bonding decisions to one of the governor’s unelected bureaucratic agencies.” However, most who have studied the matter would probably conclude that the biggest surprise was what happened to the bill authorizing a Voter ID constitutional amendment.
In the interest of safeguarding election integrity and preventing fraud, LEA has supported previous efforts to ensure voter identification, including last year’s bill. It is unusual but not inconceivable to push to change the constitution as a way to achieve this result. Lost among the sensational claims (that this bill would end same-day voter registration, or that the legislature had no authority to title the amendment) is one stunning procedural defect in the final bill. What is inconceivable to LEA is that—once the initial bill was changed to ensure a constitutional right to a provisional ballot for those unable to present ID—anyone thought including this information in the ballot question posed to voters was optional. LEA cites other problems with the bill (such as lack of direction for implementation) in its summary, but the biggest problem is the incongruity between the constitutional language change and the wording of the ballot question. LEA makes no claim that the amendment will definitely make voter ID worse, and takes no position on whether voters should approve the amendment.
“We decided we had a duty to score the legislative work on a proposed change to the constitution, not to decide whether there should be an amendment,” said Augustine.
“The least surprising outcome of the regular session was that the governor and a coalition of powerful interests succeeded in their top priority of getting another heavily-subsidized pro sports stadium,” observed LEA President John Augustine, “although the level of procedural maneuvers deployed in pursuit of that goal was rather amazing.” It’s also not very surprising that people tried to tack on unrelated items (such as money for St. Paul facilities, a Target Center subsidy, internet sales tax expansion, even early childhood funding) to the Vikings stadium bill once they sensed the bill was going to pass, turning it into a de facto omnibus bill without it being labeled as such. Just because some actions weren’t surprising doesn’t excuse them, however.
Legislators were evaluated for their voting records on 22 key votes; ranging from education policy issues, to health-care regulation, to tort reform, to public-sector contracts, to budget and bonding decisions.
Why were House members disproportionately honored?
Even the honorees in both legislative bodies fell short of the standard on the Voter ID bill, so that vote does not explain the disparity in honorees. LEA makes a concerted effort to score enough votes so that dissent from its position on one vote does not prevent someone from receiving honoree status. An accurate explanation for why even the best Senators fell just short of honoree status would include two factors—the Senate’s failure to match the House with principled opposition to a bill giving the Commissioner of Economic Development discretion to make and forgive low-interest “redevelopment” loans, and the Senate’s failure to have a floor vote on the proposal to prohibit public-school funds and resources from being used for political advocacy. “When possible, we try to score votes that were voted on in both the House and Senate, so that each body gets judged on a similar sample of votes, but responses from our members indicated that they regarded the public school political advocacy issue as one of the most important matters before the legislature this year—too important to neglect in the report,” Augustine explained.
*This report was finalized September 5, earlier drafts are obsolete.