Tag Archives: Andrea Kieffer

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.]


When “local control” becomes a meaningless catch phrase

We support the belief that parents are responsible for their children’s education and that parents, teachers and local school boards can make the best decisions about our children’s education. – Rep. Duane Quam

The House Education Finance committee will hear testimony on H.F. 1858 tomorrow.  This bill would only allow local school districts to hold operating levy referendums in even-numbered years.  Currently, districts have the ability to choose whether to hold such referendums in odd- or even-numbered years.

Representative Garofalo will work to keep schools under the control of local parents and teachers. – Rep. Pat Garofalo campaign website

This bill would stomp all over the local control that Republicans — and specifically, a number of the bill’s authors — claim they want for their local districts.  And it’s poor policy on the merits, as well.  The state typically makes its major budget decisions in the odd-numbered years.  (That’s why we had our big state budget blowout last year, in 2011.)  This law would force districts to wait 18 months after those decisions are made before they can seek additional funding from voters.  This is nothing more than an attempt to force reduced budgets on to public schools.  It’s time for legislators to do their jobs when it comes to providing consistent funding for K-12 education instead of tying the hands of local officials who get to clean up the mess made in St. Paul.  Remember, it’s these same legislators who have balanced the budget in the last two cycles by sucking $2 billion out of our children’s education.

The more local control over your tax dollars, the more wisely the money will be spent. – Rep. Andrea Kieffer

Garofalo, the chair of the Education Finance committee, has accused school boards of using the odd-year referendums to “fleece” taxpayers. Garofalo should have more faith in voters.  If there’s one thing voters have proven in recent years — at all levels of government — it’s that they’re willing to vote out incumbents who they think aren’t doing the job.  The fact that Garofalo finds himself in the majority in the State House is testament to that fact.  Here in Eastern Carver County, voters replaced  four of the seven seats on the District 112 School Board in 2010 and voted down the technology referendum request in 2011.

Sadly, this bill is not the only bill that has headed down this road during the legislative session.  For instance, last year they pushed H.F. 381, which would have mandated a pay freeze across all districts in the state.

It’s time for the Legislature to start walking their talk.  “Local control” shouldn’t be a catch phrase — it should actually mean something.  Let school boards do their jobs and the voters will hold them accountable.  We don’t need this unnecessary meddling from the state.

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