Tag Archives: Julianne Ortman

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.


Don’t make fun of “carpet stewardship”

State Senator Julianne Ortman had an interesting Twitter entry this morning:

Now, I don’t know if Sen. Ortman really doesn’t know what a carpet product stewardship program is, or if she’s just trying to be pithy on Twitter (I suspect it’s the latter).  Either way, a little explanation is in order for those of you who may not understand what a product stewardship plan is.

One of the biggest problems our environmental agencies deal with is the impact created by hazardous materials being thrown into the regular garbage.  And we’ve taken some steps to deal with those problems.  For instance, Minnesota has made it illegal to throw used motor oil away.  Most of us, I think, can understand why that provision is in place.

Product stewardship programs take this concept further by requiring manufacturers to participate in a solution for the waste that’s produced by the normal consumer use of their product — for products that create specific problems when handling them as part of the normal solid waste stream. These problems include products that contain toxic chemicals, the sheer bulk of the items, and trying to make sure that items that can be reused or recycled get diverted out of the normal waste stream.

For other types of products, such as paint, household electronics, and other forms of household hazardous waste, the State Legislature has mandated that counties take steps to collect these products.  It’s estimated that Minnesota counties spend $5 million a year just handling paint alone.  The list of household hazardous waste items is far longer than just paint, though.  We don’t systematically recover any dollars dedicated to fund government handling and disposal, which is why county environmental centers have begun charging for a number of items they take in.

The state already has product stewardship programs in place for certain types of electronics and recyclable batteries.  The electronics recycling provision charges manufacturers a yearly fee based on how many pounds of the units with the targeted materials they sold in the last year.  Sen. Ortman voted for that bill, H.F. 854, in 2007.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has targeted three new categories of products for development of product stewardship programs:  paint, non-rechargeable batteries, and carpet.  Paint is already handled through household hazardous waste programs at the county level as noted above.  The goal of a pant product stewardship program would be to relieve counties of much of the expense that they now incur for that activity and increase the amount of paint that goes through such programs.

For batteries and carpet, there are few opportunities for recycling today, yet both categories of product can largely be recycled and used again.  The interest in batteries is primarily to keep their harmful compounds out of landfills and the environment while carpet’s bulk (it makes up about 3% of all solid waste collected) makes it desirable to get out of the traditional garbage handling process.

The devil is in the details, of course, on any such plan.  And the catch on any of these is the financing.  California was the first state to institute a product stewardship plan for carpet, which was funded by a five-cent per square yard charge at the manufacturer level.

So, no, Big Government’s not coming to tax your Dyson.  It’s attempting to deal with a real issue that can impact our environmental quality.  Certainly, reasonable people can disagree on the means or the methodology.  But I would hope we could all agree that it’s desirable to keep products that are recyclable and can contain harmful chemicals out of our landfills and that it might be worth a look at ways to make that situation better.

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.

Ortman withdraws authorship of S.F. 235

State Senator Julianne Ortman has removed herself as an author on DFL State Senator Ron Latz’s S.F. 235 that would change the definition of “crimes of violence” to include additional domestic violence offenses as well as the illegal possession of a firearm, essentially increasing the penalties for illegal possession of a firearm and making it illegal for those convicted of those domestic violence crimes to own firearms.  Sources close to Ortman indicate that there were disagreements regarding how the bill would be handled in committee and on the Senate floor.

Ortman is expected to introduce her own bill with similar goals soon.

Legislative gun bills: sound and fury signifying little?

This week has been “gun week” at the Capitol, as the House Public Safety Committee has held hearings on a number of proposed bills that expected to be whittled down and consolidated into an omnibus gun violence reduction bill.  Much of the coverage of hearings thus far has focused on the occasionally heated words going back and forth over the issue and the various proposals.  Thus far, there have been 17 bills introduced in the House, and eight in the Senate (as of February 6):


But which of these bills is likely to make the cut, and be approved by the Legislature?  Despite the DFL holding majorities in both houses, passage of any significant gun control legislation is far from a certainty.  Many rural DFL legislators hold positions that more closely align with the National Rifle Association than their metro colleagues.  Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk earned high marks from the NRA until last session, when he voted against the so-called “Castle Doctrine” expansion bill.  In the House, Iron Range DFL Rep. David Dill believes he has enough votes to block many of the above initiatives.  And, Governor Mark Dayton has been lukewarm at best about new gun regulations.

The final package of bills is likely, in fact, to be rather incremental — not the sort of “gun grab” that many gun proponents have been warning against.   What’s likely to be in there?  Here’s what I expect:

  • A form of the Goodwin/Rosenthal bills making it more difficult for violent felons to get their firearm rights restored.
  • Improved mental health screening as part of the background check process, although it may look quite different than the Schoen bill
  • The Latz/Lesch bill (also supported by Sen. Julianne Ortman) expanding the crime of violence definition and modifying criminal penalties for illegal firearm possession

Some other possibilities include the Johnson bill to criminalize false gun theft/loss reports and a modified version of the Simonson body armor bill that would instead increase penalties for those who commit crimes while wearing it.

However, the more controversial proposals — like the Hausman bills on assault weapons and large capacity magazine bans — likely don’t have the votes to make it out of the Legislature.  Even Paymar’s universal background check bill appears to be on thin ice from a votes perspective, despite the fact polling shows broad support for it.

That said, all of the more likely proposals are — despite a lower profile — bills that can make a real impact on gun violence.  Sometimes moderation and incrementalism pays off.

[Featured image is State Rep. Tony Cornish’s “Gun Week” fashion statement, including AK-47 lapel pin, from Pat Kessler’s Twitter stream.]

Legislative happenings: Ortman backs gun bill; Hoppe late in filing campaign finance reports again

A couple of notes on some happenings at the State Capitol:

  • State Senator Julianne Ortman has signed on as an author on S.F. 235, which is being carried by Democratic State Sen. Ron Latz.  The bill would change the definition of “crimes of violence” to include additional domestic violence offenses as well as the illegal possession of a firearm, essentially increasing the penalties for illegal possession of a firearm and making it illegal for those convicted of those domestic violence crimes to own firearms.  Additionally, the bill equalizes penalties for those who aid and abet illegal firearm possession with those who possess the weapon. Another change would subject juveniles to being charged as an adult the second time they are caught in illegal possession of a firearm.  Finally, the bill bans possession of ammunition by those who are legally prohibited from owning a weapon and makes some changes that makes it harder for the mentally ill to possess firearms.  The bill is backed by the Minnesota County Attorneys Association.
  • Rep. Joe Hoppe

    Rep. Joe Hoppe

    State Representative Joe Hoppe has completed the trifecta for 2012, but this isn’t an accomplishment to be lauded.  Hoppe’s year-end campaign finance report, due January 31, is late.  This means that Hoppe, currently serving his sixth term in the House, missed the filing deadlines for all three of his 2012 campaign finance reports.  His pre-primary report, due July 30, was filed on August 3 and his pre-general election report, due October 29, was filed on November 15.  Certainly, a veteran legislator like Hoppe should know better.

Setting the record straight on business taxes again

Minnesota Revenue Commissioner Myron Frans made the rounds at the State Capitol today, appearing before both the Senate and House Tax Committees.  Frans got a decidedly chilly reception from Republicans on the respective committees, including our own State Senator Julianne Ortman (who went to so far as to call elements of the plan “a re-election ploy” — a rich assertion coming from a party that hasn’t hesitated to try their own ploys).

Meanwhile, other Republicans are already sounding the alarm about how Dayton’s plan would send businesses running for the borders because our tax system will be so out of whack.

Let’s take a deep breath here and look at some numbers.  A couple of years back, I looked at a study by the Council on State Taxation ( a consortium of 600 businesses) regarding state and local tax rates.  What we found in that Minnesota had lower taxes as a percentage of economic activity than the national average and many states in the region.  Maybe it’s time we look at how the numbers have changed over the last two years.  Here’s a link to the new study.

Well, not much has changed in two years.  Minnesota continues to be below the national average, and slightly ahead of neighboring states like South Dakota and Wisconsin.  And while Minnesota’s tax percentage has increased from 4.3% to 4.5% in that time, that rate of growth is slower than the national average (which increased by 0.5%).  What happens if Dayton gets his entire tax proposal?  Minnesota goes from 4.5% to 4.7%, which does slide it slightly behind Wisconsin and South Dakota.


Is this enough to drive thousands of jobs away?

Seems unlikely, since our position slightly ahead of these states previously didn’t encourage large migration of jobs into the state — and the state out of all those on the chart experiencing the highest job rate increase is North Dakota, which also has the highest percentage of taxes as a percentage of gross state product.  The reality is that tax policy is one of many factors that drive economic growth and business investment.

There are plenty of reasons to like or dislike specific elements of the Dayton tax plan.  I’ve been clear about things that I do and don’t like.  The job of a minority party isn’t just to grandstand and say no.  They should be working to make the plan better where they can — certainly DFLers aren’t entirely united behind the plan and some would be glad to grab on to some reasonable alternatives.  Instead of biting Commissioner Frans’s head off, they should be offering their own suggestions.

Will they do so?  Sadly, I’m not optimistic.  The incentives in our political system today seem to favor confrontation over cooperation, and power-grabbing over problem-solving.


Ortman and Leidiger fudge the facts on the payroll tax increase

The release of Governor Dayton’s budget produced the expected responses from members of Carver County’s legislative delegation, pointing out the sales tax changes (focused on the tax on clothing over $100 and services) as the main enemy in the proposal.

Interestingly enough, though, both State Senator Julianne Ortman and State Representative Ernie Leidiger took another shot at Democrats over taxes — this time at the federal level.

From Ortman’s January 23, 2013 Capitol Report:

In addition to Governor Dayton’s proposed tax increases, President Obama has two major tax increases that will take even more money out of the pockets of hard-working Minnesotans.

This month, wage earners will notice an increase in the amount that they pay for the federal payroll tax. Since the first of the year, most Minnesotans have already seen this happen on their paychecks.

From Leidiger’s January 28, 2013 e-mail to constituents:

Look at it this way: a hardworking middle class family will not only have diminished take-home pay because of higher social security taxes, but they will also have to dig deeper in their pockets for everyday items and services.

Ortman and Leidiger are referring to the expiration of the payroll tax cut on January 1, 2013.  This change increased the Social Security payroll tax rate by 2%, back to its statutory rate of 6.2%.  The rhetoric of the two legislators — particularly Ortman — might lead you to believe that this tax increase was just another way that so-called tax-and-spend Democrats are out to get the middle class.

Well, that just isn’t so.  In fact, when it comes to payroll taxes, Democrats have been the defenders of giving taxpayers a break.  The temporary payroll tax cut was passed in the lame-duck session following the 2010 midterm election and was designed to be a one-year only provision, expiring at the start of 2011.  Over the objections of his caucus, Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner agreed to another one-year extension in the 2011 showdown over the debt ceiling.  And as we approached the fiscal cliff, we should recall that no Republicans were standing up for continuing the extension.  Not Boehner.  Not Mitch McConnell.  Mitt Romney didn’t support extending the payroll tax cut, either.

And while President Barack Obama didn’t make the extension of the payroll tax cut a “must-have” in fiscal cliff negotiations the way he did in 2011, he was forced to scrap plans for an alternative middle- and lower-class tax cut in order to secure the needed Republican votes for passage.

So, let’s recap:  Republicans are blaming Barack Obama for adopting the policy they themselves insisted on.  Ain’t politics grand?

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