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Burning bridges by paying for bridges

Posted at 1:44 PM on February 26, 2008 by Michael Marchio (1 Comments)

The fallout from yesterday's veto override has already started, with some Republicans paying for their votes by losing committee assignments and leadership positions. As Bob Collins points out in his News Cut blog, the rock-solid discipline of the Republican caucus, especially in the House, has been a critical asset for the governor in stopping legislation proposed by the DFL. It's essentially making the huge majority they won in 2006 worthless on all the contentious issues.

Even though he was overridden, some might see this as a strategic victory for the governor, for a few reasons.

It gives him ammunition to use on DFL lawmakers in the 2008 election, when every House seat will be up for a vote.

As Minority Leader Marty Siefert said in the above story, some of the Republicans who voted for the bill may be facing tough fights for thir party's endorsement, so it may also have the effect of replacing some of the more moderate members of his party and make their caucus's unity even more difficult to dent.

It provides more transportation funding that, regardless of how lawmakers want to pay for it, everyone agrees the state needs.

And as many have suggested, if Pawlenty has national aspirations, he can say he did everything in his power to stop the tax increase, and the Legislature overrode him anyway, leaving his no-new-tax record, at least as far as he can control, unblemished. Pawlenty dismissed such talk this weekend on Fox and CNN, but as Mike Huckabee said earlier this year, the vice-presidency is a job nobody wants, and nobody turns down.

So what does everyone think, who are the winners and losers in this situation? I'd like to hear your takes, light that comments page up.

Neither chamber will be introducing any more bills until Thursday, so I thought I'd like to bring some interesting pieces of legislation to your attention today and tomorrow. Look for a post later this afternoon.


Comments (1)


Losers? Well I think the Committees lose, by having their leadership change mid-session. I think the Leadership did a good job of assembling the committees last year after the Majority change, and I think the committees have been working well as teams. When I've attended committee meetings, the teams seemed to be working well together, and enjoying each other's company.

So do leadership changes improve the teams mid-session? I don't see that these changes will. The changes aren't necessitated by death, illness, incompetence, or illegal activity (or accusations of) or ethics violations. To terminate a committee assignment solely on the basis of retribution for a legislator's refusal to cast a vote for the Party and not for their People does not seem like good judgement in a DEMOCRACY. That's still our form of government, isn't it?

Does the Party win or lose with leadership changes? While some party faithful may delight in the punishment of the 'Unfaithful,' I think your average Minnesotan wants their representative to vote for their interests, and not a party's. So I think the Party loses credibility with citizens for trying to be coercive in influencing their vote. A party can lose some of their most effective elected officials with tactics like this.

The People may also be losers if the committee changes affect the teams' abilities to process the legislation. So a change in a K-12 Committee, for example, may affect all Minnesota school children.

Any winners? Well Marty Seifert's largest employer in his district is probably Schwann's, who has those yellow trucks with a MNDOT number and Marshall, MN 56258 painted on their doors. The improved road and bridge maintenance should decrease vehicle maintenance for them, and all other Minnesota companies with trucks on the roads. Schwann's employees may be so happy that they might give votes - and money - to Seifert - in spite of his obstructionism that worked to prevent the Transportation Bill from passing via over ride.

But will Seifert be elected Minority Leader again? I wouldn't vote for him, because I want a leader to be nourishing, not punishing. But then I'm not a Republican, so maybe they want discipline and punishment to keep them in the Party fold.

Posted by Nancy | February 27, 2008 7:59 AM