Tag Archives: 47A
marriage equality vote

Carver County House Vote Tracker – 2013

With the 2013 Legislative Session in the books, here’s a look back at how Carver County’s House delegation, Rep. Ernie Leidiger (District 47A – central and western Carver County), Rep. Joe Hoppe (District 47B – eastern Carver County), and Rep. Cindy Pugh (District 33B – northeast Chanhassen) voted on the key bills that the chamber took action on this year:

votetracker13

[CORRECTION, 5/21: Pugh voted "Yes" on the SF 541 Sunday sales amendment, not "No".]

Data sourced from the House archive of roll-call votes.

220px-ManWearingTinFoilHat

Leidiger catches Agenda 21 and Tenther fever

Bills filed in the waning days of the odd-year legislative session are often considered throw-away bills — filed weeks after deadlines for committee hearings and passage in the current year, most of them are left in the dustbin when the even-year session comes around.  But they can provide some useful insight into the workings of the minds of the legislators who file them — in terms of what their ideology is or who they feel they need to appease.

Mayer’s State Rep. Ernie Leidiger was listed as an author on two bills to be introduced today — H.F. 1833 and H.F. 1834 — which are, well, interesting.  Both bills are chief authored by freshman Rep. Jim Newberger (R-Becker).

H.F. 1833 is designed to protect Minnesota from the scourge of United Nations Agenda 21.  To most of the world, Agenda 21 is a non-binding, voluntarily implemented United Nations effort to encourage sustainable development practices.  The practical impact of such efforts have been uncontroversial and common-sense things like state or county level requirements for comprehensive land use plans for local governments and ENERGYSTAR ratings for applicances.  But to a few, it’s something far more sinister: the end of America as we know it.  Glenn Beck, for instance, has turned Agenda 21 resistance into its own cottage industry — tying all his media platforms to it.  And, sadly, it’s not just talk radio blowhards getting in on the act.  Bluestem Prairie’s Sally Jo Sorensen has been on Minnesota links to this movement — see here and here.  Newberger himself has long been a proponent of such ideology, as documented here.  Even State Rep. Cindy Pugh (R-Chanhassen) has gotten in on the act, back in her SW Metro Tea Party days.  (Incidentally, the SW Metro Tea Party will be holding another Agenda 21 session next week –postponed from April.)

Meanwhile, H.F. 1834 is a resolution designed to restore what proponents see as the rightful purpose of the federal government as limited by the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution.  Followers of this ideology — known by some as “Tenthers” — believe that many of the things the federal government does today, including Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, veterans programs, and federal drug enforcement, are not valid.  This is milder version of legislation from last session that sought to give the state the right to nullify federal laws that were judged by the Legislature to be outside of its purview.  The nullification issue, though, has long been settled from a legal perspective, however, and was settled once and for all by the Civil War.

After a fairly quiet session that seemed to start productively with his working with county elected officials on transportation issues, it’s too bad that Leidiger hasn’t been able to contains these extreme urges and find ways to work to move productive legislation through the House.

[Photo courtesy Wikipedia, of recommended headgear for Agenda 21 conspiracy buffs and Tenthers.]

emmer

Meet Your “New” Republican Party!

State Rep. Ernie Leidiger will be holding his annual hog roast fundraiser next month.  This year’s event is themed “Meet The New Republican Party”, and features a pulled pork dinner, silent auction, activities for kids, karaoke, and a bonfire.  On-site camping is also available if needed.  Lots of special guests are also invited, like these fresh faces:

Hog Roast Emcee and failed gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer

U.S. Representative Michele Bachmann

U.S. Representative John Kline

U.S. Representative Erik Paulsen

Radio talk show hosts Jason Lewis and Sue Jeffers

State Senator Julianne Ortman

State Representative Joe Hoppe

Of course, these aren’t “new” faces at all.  These are just the same faces we’ve been seeing and hearing from for years now.  Keep looking down the list and — aha! — here are the new faces we’ve been looking for!

State GOP Party Chair Keith Downey

State GOP Deputy Party Chair Kelly Fenton

State GOP Secretary Chris Fields

Of course, of these folks, only Fields really qualifies a “new” face.  Heck, Fields hasn’t even lived in Minnesota for two years and he already has lost a race for Congress by 49 points.  Downey is a two-term former state representative who was heralded as an ideological leader behind the Republican House majorities that got routed in 2012.  Fenton, meanwhile, is a longtime party activist.

Even more to the point, though, is that while you can theoretically argue some of the faces are “new” — the ideas are the same old stale ones they’ve been peddling for years.  Let’s hope the pulled pork is fresher than the ideology.

[Picture above is 2010 gubernatorial loser and voice of the "new" Republican Party Tom Emmer]

Rep. Ernie Leidiger

Leidiger goes “nucular” over House energy bill

It’s been a fairly quiet session for State Rep. Ernie Leidiger thus far.  Being in the legislative minority has limited his already meager ability to shape legislation.  He’s chief authored just three bills so far (all transportation-related) — only 15 House members have been less ambitious — and has kept a low profile this session with no Bradlee Dean sightings or campaign finance kerfuffles.

Tuesday night, the House debated H.F. 956, the omnibus energy bill.  The key point of contention in the bill was an ambitious solar energy mandate included in the bill.  Under the terms of the bill, investor-owned utilities (Xcel Energy, Minnesota Power, Otter Tail Power and Interstate Power & Light) would be required to produce 4% of their electricity via solar by 2025 on top of the existing renewable energy mandates.  Cooperatives and municipal utilities would be exempted from this requirement.  Additionally, investor-owned utilities would be required to subsidize solar installations for residential and commercial customers.  Mining companies and paper mills receive protection from potential rate increases that would result from the mandate, and the bill would continue and expand incentives for solar equipment manufacturers in the state.

There’s a lot to chew on in those provisions.  Very real questions can be raised about the necessity of setting a mandate for solar, when the state is currently in the midst of a boom in wind production (up to 14% of the state’s electricity in 2012) and the reality that such a solar mandate may be quite costly for utilities to comply with.  Adding a 4% solar requirement on top of an increase in the  existing renewable energy standard from 25% to 40% would give Minnesota the highest renewable and solar energy mandates in the nation at 44% in total.

As an aside, the Senate version of the bill, S.F. 901, had a much smaller (and in my opinion, more responsible) set of provisions related to solar energy.  The mandate in the Senate bill was only 1%, and it removed the requirement that utilities subsidize solar installations.  Unfortunately, the House bill was chosen by DFL leadership as the baseline version of the final omnibus bill.  The House bill deserved a no vote, in my opinion, based on the solar mandate issue.

So there’s a lot in this bill that could be criticized.  Of the many provisions listed above, which does Leidiger choose to criticize?  Well, none of them, exactly.  Check the video out for yourself (the video will jump to the start of Leidiger’s speech, nearly six hours into debate on the bill):

First off, let’s get Leidiger’s charming Bush-like pronunciation of the word nuclear as “nucular” noted for the record. (Sometimes, a word really is pronounced the way it is spelled.)  It’s also telling that Leidiger’s rant is met midway through by chuckles.  Even Rep. Mary Franson, who enjoys a good rant as much as anyone in the House, appears to go from mild bemusement to indifference to apparently checking her e-mail.

Next, let’s talk about some of Rep. Leidiger’s facts.  Leidiger is certainly correct that China has been building nuclear power plants in the last decade, and is continuing to construct them (although scaled back significantly since the Fukushima reactor issue in Japan).  However, to imply that nuclear is the core of China’s “baseline power” isn’t true.  Nuclear power only represents 1% of China’s electric production today, and will only represent 6% by 2020.  However, the growth in nuclear is only half of that expected in renewable energy in China.  Wind power in China is booming — to the extent that today wind power in China produces more power than nuclear — and that trend is expected to continue.

energy

It should be pointed out that both Minnesota and the United States are currently and will continue to be larger users of nuclear power than the Chinese.  It’s not clear, and Leidiger certainly doesn’t specify, what it is exactly about Minnesota solar mandates and the Chinese construction of nuclear power plants that constitutes the threat to our national security.

Is it the fact that China is the leading manufacturer of solar panels?  If Chinese manufacturing is now a source of national security distress, we’re in a whole world of hurt.  The fact of the matter is that both political parties in this country have largely backed trade and economic policies that have encouraged the off-shoring of American manufacturing jobs — prioritizing the ability to buy low-priced products made elsewhere (like from — ahem — certain office furniture companies) and breaking the power of organized labor ahead of nurturing solid middle-class jobs and promoting critical industries.

And let’s not forget that Leidiger in the past has criticized government programs like the stimulus that sought to boost the American solar industry.  Neither Leidiger nor his party (nor Democrats, for that matter) have produced any meaningful reforms designed to reverse those trends.  The horse has left the barn on this issue, sadly.

Besides, dependence on foreign oil has proven to already be a national security risk.  Yet, Leidiger and his cohorts want us to continue on the fossil fuel bandwagon, despite the potential domestic drilling areas like ANWR  aren’t going to be long-term solutions to the problem.

Or maybe that’s not what he’s getting at.  The argument in its totality makes about as much sense as pronouncing nuclear as “nucular”. If you can figure out what Ernie’s talking about, let me know in the comments.

[h/t to the anonymous tipster who alerted me to Leidiger's speech]

marriage equality vote

House passes marriage equality; Carver County Reps vote no

The marriage equality bill passed the Minnesota State House of Representatives today 75-59.  Four Republican Representatives voted in favor of the bill:  Jenifer Loon (Eden Prairie), Andrea Kieffer (Woodbury), Pat Garofalo (Farmington), and David FitzSimmons (Albertville), while two DFL Representatives voted against it:  Patti Fritz (Faribault) and Mary Sawatzky (Willmar).

Carver County Representatives Joe Hoppe (R-Chaska), Ernie Leidiger (R-Mayer), and Cindy Pugh (R-Chanhassen) all voted no, even after FitzSimmons’s amendment to rename all references to “marriage” in Minnesota statute as “civil marriage”, thereby providing additional reassurance that religious institutions would not be impacted by approval of marriage equality.

As previously noted, voters in both Hoppe and Pugh’s districts voted against the marriage amendment last November  so they are swimming upstream in this regard.  Pugh’s vote is a distinct contrast from her district, as 33B voted against the marriage amendment by 17 points – -the third largest margin of the 21 House Republican districts that voted against the amendment.

[Picture of the voting board above courtesy of Leanne Kunze's Twitter stream.]

Sen. Julianne Ortman

Ortman votes no on marriage equality

The marriage equality bill, S.F. 925, had a hearing today in the Senate Judiciary Committee.  State Senator Julianne Ortman (R-Chanhassen) was part of the party-line vote on the bill, with all five DFLers voting in favor of the bill and all three Republicans voting against the bill.  The bill is now eligible to vote to the full Senate for a vote.

In the 2012 election, Ortman’s SD 47 voted in favor of the amendment, earning 51.4% of the votes.  However, the results sharply varied from the eastern side of the district to the west.  The eastern portion of the district, House District 47B, voted against the amendment (only 45.4% voting yes), while the western portion of the district, House District 47A, had 57.5% voting yes.  It will be interesting to see if the dynamics in 47B play a role in influencing State Rep. Joe Hoppe’s vote.  Hoppe voted in favor of the amendment last session.

The counterpart bill in the House, H.F. 1054, had a hearing this morning in the Civil Law Committee that will continue tonight.   State Rep. Cindy Pugh, who represents northeast Chanhassen as part of District 33B, sits on that committee.  Pugh is a solid “no” vote on marriage equality.

 

Rep. Joe Hoppe

A final look back at the 2011-2012 legislative session for Ortman, Hoppe, and Leidiger

Minnesota’s Legislature gavels back into session tomorrow, with DFL majorities ready to take the reins from the Republicans.  Carver County’s population growth over the last decade will mean additional representation for the County, as northeast Chanhassen will be represented by legislative newcomers State. Sen David Osmek and State Rep. Cindy Pugh, while the rest of the county will return State Sen. Julianne Ortman, State Rep. Joe Hoppe, and State Rep. Ernie Leidiger to their positions.  Before we turn the page on the 2011-2012 session, let’s look back at the highlights and lowlights for Ortman, Hoppe, and Leidiger as well as a look forward to what they might do in this session.

State. Sen Julianne Ortman

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State Sen. Julianne Ortman

By the numbers:  Chief authored 61 bills, and 16 were passed by the Legislature (10 were signed into law and 6 vetoed by Gov. Mark Dayton).

Highlights:  Ortman was one of the most powerful figures in the Senate last session, chairing the Tax Committee and being elevated to Deputy Majority Leader following the Amy Koch scandal.  Legislatively, Ortman’s role on the Tax Committee gave her leverage in the budget negotiations in 2011.  Ortman also was able to pass some useful judicial reform, raising the dollar limit for cases that can be pursued in conciliation court.

Lowlights:  The rest of Ortman’s judicial reform agenda was ill-considered, and vetoed by Gov. Dayton.  Ortman also regrettably tried to follow along with her Republican colleagues and introduced a constitutional amendment to  fix a legislative problem — by putting limits on state spending in the constitution.  Finally, Ortman rather publicly flip-flopped on tax credits for renters, raising taxes on many.

The Future:  Ortman will be the ranking minority member of the Senate Tax Committee, which will give her a platform to critique and potentially influence the Governor’s expected tax reform package.

State Rep. Joe Hoppe

Rep. Joe Hoppe

State Rep. Joe Hoppe

By the numbers:  Chief authored 31 bills, and 11 were passed by both houses of the Legislature (9 were signed into law, and 2 were vetoed).

Highlights:  Hoppe chaired the Commerce Committee and he continued his record of working on business regulation reform, passing bills that tweaked rules related to health care premium-setting, licensing in the real estate market and allowing blackjack at Canterbury Park and Running Aces while allowing tribal casinos to do off-track betting on horse racing.  Hoppe was also a key supporter of the Minnesota Vikings stadium effort.

Lowlights:  Hoppe had sought a significant reform to Minnesota’s Public Employee Insurance Program (PEIP), changing the process for education unions to enter PEIP.  Currently, if a majority of eligible union members approve, the union can enter PEIP.  Under the legislation, additional approval by the employer (in this case, the school district) would have been required as well.  This was a serious point of contention between school boards and Education Minnesota.  Gov. Dayton vetoed the measure.  Hoppe also — after repeatedly claiming that he didn’t like legislating by constitutional amendment — carried Ortman’s spending-related amendment in the House and voted for the gay marriage and voter ID amendments.

Looking forward:  Hoppe will be the Republican lead on the Commerce Committee.  Given his good working relationship with DFL Chair Rep. Joe Atkins, we can expect Hoppe to continue to produce similar efforts at regulatory reform.

State Rep. Ernie Leidiger

Rep. Ernie Leidiger

State Rep. Ernie Leidiger

By the numbers:  Chief authored 10 bills, and 2 were passed by both houses of the Legislature (1 signed into law, 1 vetoed).

Highlights:  Leidiger had few legislative accomplishments to note during the session.  The one bill he authored that was signed into law requires law enforcement to fingerprint those arrested for violation of a domestic abuse no contact order.

Lowlights:  Leidiger’s bill to mandate use of the federal E-Verify system for all state employees was vetoed by Gov. Dayton for being duplicative of existing state processes.  Leidiger also, as you may have heard, made some waves for inviting controversial preacher Bradlee Dean to give the invocation in the House in 2011 and for violating two campaign finance laws by paying for a speeding ticket using campaign funds.

Looking Forward:  Leidiger was one of the least productive of the House’s GOP freshmen last session.  Out of 31, he ranked 29th in bills chief authored, tied for 22nd in bills signed into law, and was only asked to participate in one of 92 conference committees to hash out final versions of bills.  As a member of the legislative minority now, Leidiger looks destined for a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing unless he radically changes his approach to the job.

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Chaska Area Election Results and Quick Analysis

State Senate District 47:  Julianne Ortman (63.8%) def. Jim Weygand (36.0%)

State House District 47A:  Ernie Leidiger (62.5%) def. Keith Pickering (37.3%)

The two challenged legislative incumbents cruise to victories with margins somewhat smaller than 2010.  Probably the biggest change for Ortman, Leidiger, and Joe Hoppe (who was unopposed in House District 47B) is that they will be working again from the legislative minorities, as the DFL flipped the script on the GOP and retook both houses of the Legislature.  In fact, with the current results showing the DFL having a 39-28 lead in the Senate and 73-61 in the House, the DFL is poised to have larger majorities the next two years than the Republicans did in the previous two.

This will mean a significant loss in power for Ortman and Hoppe, who chaired committees when in the majority, but both will still be well-positioned to work on a bipartisan basis on critical issues.  Although Ortman and the DFL majorities are out of step on many tax issues, fulfilling the promise of fundamental tax reform will require hard work from both parties to craft the best solution.  Hoppe has worked well with many DFLers in the past, including Rep. Joe Atkins, who may very well end up taking the gavel on the Commerce Committee.

This will also be a challenge for Leidiger.  His first term was rather unproductive (only one bill signed into law, placing him in the bottom quarter of the GOP freshmen), and that was with a Republican majority.  Is Leidiger only interested in being a lightning rod backbencher, or is he capable of more?  If he is capable of more, now is the time to show it.

Carver County Commissioner District 1:  Gayle Degler (60.6%) def. John Siegfried (38.7%)

Carver County Commissioner District 2:  Tom Workman (58.1%) def. Cheryl Ayotte (41.5%)

Carver County Commissioner District 3:  Randy Maluchnik (67.0%) def. Vince Beaudette (32.3%)

Carver County Commissioner District 4:  Tim Lynch (63.4%) def. Frank Long (36.2%)

Carver County Commissioner District 5:  Jim Ische (53.3%) def. Jim Walter (46.3%)

The five incumbents all win re-election.  The notable thing here is that for the second cycle in a row, the Republican-endorsed challengers all lost.  As I’ve said before, this is a losing strategy for the local Republican Party.  County issues are not partisan issues, and voters don’t appreciate partisan warfare being brought where it doesn’t belong.

Eastern Carver County School Board:  Heather Nelson (25.0%), Amy Logue (24.0%) and Jeff Ross (19.2%) def. Jim Leone (17.8%) and Larry Doran (13.4%).

The housecleaning is complete with this vote, as Jim Leone is the last long-term incumbent on the Board is swept out of office.  Highly qualified newcomers Logue and Ross join Nelson (who won election to reduced term in 2010) on the Board.

Chaska Mayor:  Mark Windschitl (67.8%) def. Richard Swanson (31.1%)

This was a clear show of support for the current city leadership.  Windschitl has grown greatly on the job the last three years, and Swanson’s failure to provide a clear case for change and his tax issues didn’t help his cause.

More analysis to come, including looking at the statewide races and constitutional amendments.

 

Write-in fever breaking out across Carver County

Tomorrow is Election Day, and Carver County voters are seeing some unusual late-in-the cycle activity promoting the possibility of write-in candidates for State House District 47A and Waconia Mayor.

Some residents in the Waconia area have reported getting the flyer shown below at their door over the weekend.  In it, the author (who claims to be a local Republican), urges Republicans to drop their support of State Rep. Ernie Leidiger and to instead vote for DFLer Keith Pickering or, alternatively, to write-in Waconia Mayor Jim Nash.  The flyers do not carry a disclosure of who paid for them.  If more than $100 was spent on this effort, it would be a violation of state campaign finance rules.

When contacted about the flyers, Nash’s response was “I heard about it on Sunday, but have nothing to do with this at all.”

 

Meanwhile, Nash — who is running for re-election — is facing a write-in challenge of his own.  A group of Waconia residents have started an effort to encourage write-in votes for former Waconia fire chief (and current assistant fire chief) Randy Sorensen.  Sorensen, too (via a third party), asserts that he is not behind the effort.

Rep. Ernie Leidiger

Let’s Go To The Tape, Round 2

It’s time for another episode of Carver County’s new favorite game show, Let’s Go To The Tape.  In our first episode, we checked the claims of the Carver County Commissioner candidates who said that the League of Women Voters were conducting biased forums.  Believe it or not, we found those claims to be utterly without merit.

In today’s episode, we look at the mini-kerfuffle that has broken out within the Carver County GOP over some live-tweeting by Waconia City Council member Jim Sanborn and Waconia Mayor Jim Nash at last week’s candidate forum in Waconia.  If you go to the comments on the linked post as well as on the Carver County Current site, you see that there’s been some questioning of the accuracy of the tweets, and apparently Nash and Sanborn have been taking some heat for their quoting of Rep. Leidiger at the event.  The video of this event has been posted (you can watch it all at the bottom of this post).

So, Let’s Go To The Tape:

Leidiger’s answer to this question begins at the 23:45 mark in the video.  At 24:15 he says, “In terms of education, certainly, once again, the Republican-controlled House and Senate passed a bill that increased education spending by 8 percent over the last biennium.”

As was noted previously, this answer is not fully the truth.  Yes, the Legislature passed an increase to the basic per-pupil funding formula of $50 in each of the two years and chipped in some one-time money.  However, the school shift that Leidiger voted for resulted in most districts seeing a net decrease in state revenues for the biennium.  Leidiger ignores the impact of the shift in his comment.

And, yes, at 24:38, Leidiger does say “The problem is that under the current system with the union controls, we don’t get the ingenuity that we should in the system.”  That certainly qualifies as criticism of the union.  This Tweet is accurate.

At 30:54, Leidiger says “Well yes, we want our elected officials to really be held to a higher standard.”  You can review how Leidiger has performed here, and see if he meets the standard he sets up for himself.  These Tweets are accurate.

It’s also interesting to note Leidiger’s answer to the previous question regarding the role of government in promoting small business (starting at 27:20).  In that answer, Leidiger not only dodges his own history with small business loans, but criticizes the actions of the Carver County Board saying (at 28:00) “they don’t live by their own regulations”.  This coming from the guy with $144,000 in tax liens?  Pot, meet kettle.

At the 49:00 mark, Leidiger says “I’ve never gotten a job from a poor person, it’s always been from a rich person.”, and at 50:34, he says “There should be an environment where everyone has 2 or 3 jobs that they can go to.”  Yet again, the Tweet in question here is accurate.

At 50:50, Leidiger says “So thank you very much for having us here. I think this has been a great audience and I think its very important that we do these kinds of forums far more than what we have in the past.”  I suppose one could argue over what “these kinds of forums” refer to, but Sanborn and Nash’s inference here (and implicit criticism of Leidiger for skipping the LWV forum) is certainly reasonable.

Seems to me that Sanborn and Nash accurately reported what Leidiger said.  Maybe folks in the Carver County GOP who don’t like it should consider how what Leidiger says matches up with his actions instead of shooting the messenger.

BONUS FACT-CHECK

Both Leidiger and State Senator Julianne Ortman refer to the fact that the top 10% of income earners in the state pay over 50% of the income taxes in the state.  This is used to buttress support for reducing taxes on upper-income people.  This is true, but it leaves out some additional context.   According the Department of Revenue’s 2011 Tax Incidence Study, the top 10% earn 42.1% of the state’s income.  They pay 56% of the state’s individual income tax.  However, the individual income tax is less than 50% of the state’s tax base.  When you take into account all state taxes, the top 10% only pay 41.6% of all state taxes.  If you factor local taxes into the mix (because local budgets are highly influenced by state taxes), the top 10% only pay 37.8% of all state and local taxes.  So, in reality, those high-income folks are well-protected in our existing tax code.

Whenever you hear a politician talk about tax burdens but only give you statistics that reference one kind of tax, watch out because it’s very likely they’re trying to avoid telling you the whole story.

Here’s the entire video of the event:

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