Tag Archives: Ernie Leidiger

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.

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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.]

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]

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]

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.]

Ortman introduces Senate version of compromise gun bill

State Senator Julianne Ortman introduced the Senate version of the compromise gun control bill today.  The bill has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Ortman is one of 17 Republicans who have indicated support for the bill, while five DFL legislators have signed on as co-authors of the measure.

Provisions in the bill include:

  • requirements to more quickly send state data to the national background check database
  • expand the parameters which disqualify people convicted of violent crimes from owning a gun
  • increased penalties for illegal gun possession and “straw purchases” (where someone buys a gun on behalf of someone who is prohibited from owning a weapon)
  • making it a crime to falsely report a gun as stolen

Supporters of the bill include the National Rifle Association, the Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance, and the Minnesota Sheriffs Association.  Carver County Reps. Joe Hoppe and Ernie Leidiger are co-authors on the House version of the bill.

Read the full press release from Sen. Ortman’s office below:

 

 

 

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.

 

Leidiger, Hoppe back compromise gun control bill

Carver County State Representatives Joe Hoppe (R-Chaska) and Ernie Leidiger (R-Mayer) have signed on as co-authors of a compromise gun control bill, H.F. 1323, which contains only measures that have significant bipartisan support.  More controversial measures, such as universal background checks and bans on assault weapons or high-capacity magazines, are not included in the bill.

Provisions in the bill, chief authored by Debra Hilstrom (D-Brooklyn Center) include:

  • requirements to more quickly send state data to the national background check database
  • expand the parameters which disqualify people convicted of violent crimes from owning a gun
  • increased penalties for illegal gun possession and “straw purchases” (where someone buys a gun on behalf of someone who is prohibited from owning a weapon)
  • making it a crime to falsely report a gun as stolen

73 House members (17 DFL, and 56 GOP) are sponsoring the bill, which also has the support of the Minnesota Sheriff’s Association and the National Rifle Association.  That’s a majority of the House’s 134 members.

Despite the broad support, however, the bill is not without its critics.  House Public Safety Committee Chair Michael Paymar (D-St. Paul), who earlier introduced a bill that included universal background checks, has indicated he won’t give the new bill a committee hearing.  In the State Senate, meanwhile, the Judiciary Committee is poised to also move forward a bill containing universal background checks.  No Senate version of the Hilstrom bill has been introduced yet, although this bill would seem to fit the parameters of what Sen. Julianne Ortman was talking about when she discussed alternative legislation to the Senate bill (S.F. 235).

Resistance from the critical committee chairs in both houses may mean that supporters will be forced to engage in some parliamentary maneuvering to get this bill to the floor for a vote.  This bill clearly opens the fissures in the DFL party on this issue, as well as revealing a gap in the law enforcement community, as the police chiefs and officers have lined up behind bills with universal background checks. It should make for some interesting times at the Capitol over the next two months.

Highway 212 expansion bill introduced and other happenings

Here’s a roundup of some of the happenings around the area:

  • A bill has been introduced in the State Legislature (chief authored in the House by Rep. Ernie Leidiger and in the Senate by Sen. Julianne Ortman) to expand U.S. Highway 212 to four lanes from Jonathan Carver Parkway to County Road 43 in Dahlgren Township.  Also included in the bill is $8 million for construction of an interchange at US-212 and County Road 140 in Southwest Chaska.  This bill would be a critical next step in making sure that US-212 is built out to four lanes to Norwood-Young America.  Additionally, the CR-140 interchange is critical to the success of the Southwest Chaska Master Plan recently ratified by the City Council.  This is a good bill and I hope it will be included in the omnibus transportation package this year.
  • State Representative Joe Hoppe submitted his year-end campaign finance report on February 25, some three-and-one-half weeks late.  Of note in Hoppe’s report is that he collected over $1,700 in “special source” funding in 2012 that he was forced to return.  “Special sources” include lobbyists, political party units, and political action committees.  Additionally, Hoppe’s penchant for filing late in 2012 cost him over $2,600 in late fees with the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board.  Some fiscal responsibility…
  • The City of Chaska City Council meeting tonight has been cancelled.
  • The Chaska Hawks girls basketball team (ranked #7 in Class AAA) will play Richfield (ranked #2 in Class AAA) on Thursday night with a berth in the State Tournament on the line.  The Hawks romped past Benilde-St. Margaret 69-41 on Saturday to reach the section final.  The game will be at 7 p.m. at Minnetonka High School.
  • On the Chaska restaurant front, Dickey’s Barbecue Pit is open in Chaska Commons, while downtown’s Egg & Pie Diner is headed for a mid-March opening.  Construction is also underway at the future location of BullChicks in Chaska Commons.

Sunday liquor sales torpedoed again

In what is now seemingly a yearly tradition at the State Capitol, the effort to end Minnesota’s prohibition on Sunday liquor sales was torpedoed again by a combination of labor and liquor industry interests.  Last year’s effort failed on an overwhelming vote in the Minnesota House of Representatives.

Once again, the State Legislature — by kowtowing to special interest pressure — worked against clear majorities of Minnesota citizens.  Polling has consistently shown public support for Sunday liquor sales runs over 60%.

What are some of the arguments against Sunday liquor sales?  Let’s look at them:

“If you don’t open on seventh day and your competitors do, there goes your customer base,” said Edward Reynoso, political director for Teamsters 32 Joint Council.

Well, there’s certainly something to be said for competitive pressures.  But, let’s face it, there’s more to business success than just being open seven days a week (or as long as your competitors).  If that were the case, would it be possible to have a thriving fast food restaurant chain that’s closed on Sundays?  Or would it be possible to be a successful general retailer that closed at 10 p.m. every night instead of staying open 24 hours like its main competitor?

Maryann Campo, who opened South Lyndale Liquors in Minneapolis in 1975, said the bill would raise her store’s labor costs without boosting profits.

“We don’t see any economic advantage,” Campo said.

There’s nothing in the bill that would require liquor stores to be open seven days a week.  In fact, it might make more economic sense for a liquor store to close on Mondays (as some restaurants do) to maximize profits.

But even more to the point — let’s say Campo is right.  Why, then, should liquor stores (and auto dealerships) get the benefit of these blue laws?  It would be cheaper for every business open seven days a week to only be open six days a week.  Target and Best Buy and any number of other retailers would benefit in the same way that liquor stores do.  Why not ban all commerce on Sunday, then?

And certainly, employees of other businesses could equally benefit from this line of argument:

The Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association has lobbied effectively against the change every year with the same argument: Its member stores want one day off a week

The train has already left the station on that one, I’m afraid.  It would be nice if everyone could convince the Legislature to dictate a work-free Sunday, but it’s just not practical — nor is it good economics.

[Rep. Pat] Garofalo opposes broader Sunday sales, which he said would increase stores’ labor costs, only to be passed on to consumers.

“It means higher liquor prices. The public doesn’t understand that,” he said.

See the above answer for a response to the raising prices question.  But here’s where things really get interesting.  Garofalo has spent significant time this session braying about how Governor Mark Dayton’s budget will drive business over Minnesota borders.  Perhaps Garofalo should be equally worried about Minnesota businesses already losing revenue to Wisconsin as he is about whether or not Moorhead gets an Applebee’s.

Even more telling here is how many Republicans (Carver County’s own Joe Hoppe and Ernie Leidiger included) forget about their free market principles on this issue.  There’s precisely no free market rationale here to defend this prohibition.  And there’s precious little to stand on when it comes to social concern, either.  If we’re going to sell liquor in bars and restaurants on Sunday, why not allow people to buy a 12-pack and take it home with them?  Isn’t that better than letting them get their buzz on and then drive home?

Jason Alvey, the owner of Four Firkins in St. Louis Park, puts it best:

“It is the year 2013, yet I pay rent 52 days a year that I’m not allowed to open my business, and I think that’s very frustrating. Let’s gain the extra tax revenue. Let’s give the people what they want. Let’s give progressive retailers like myself the ability to run our businesses how we see fit.”

It’s time to put pressure on the Legislature to get out of the way and to do the right thing.  If you’re interested in changing this law, I encourage you to contact your legislator as well as supporting organizations like Minnesota Beer Activists that are working to make sure the Legislature listens to the will of the people.

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