Kathy Sheran, Mankato, Minn., column: Gridlock? Blame GOP's refusal to compromise
By Kathy Sheran MANKATO, Minn. -- It's not surprising to hear the "do-nothing" label being tossed around the Capitol these days. In a session that began in January with legislative leaders and the governor all promising a focus on jobs, we now ar...
By Kathy Sheran
MANKATO, Minn. -- It's not surprising to hear the "do-nothing" label being tossed around the Capitol these days.
In a session that began in January with legislative leaders and the governor all promising a focus on jobs, we now are careening toward adjournment with next to nothing accomplished on jobs or any other key issue.
In his recent commentary, Taxpayers League of Minnesota President Phil Krinkie also decries the "lack of accomplishments in this session" ("Dayton compiles dismal record in office," Page A4, April 18).
He goes on to provide a confused version of recent history, casting blame exclusively on Gov. Mark Dayton for the failures of the Republican-controlled Legislature.
Krinkie weaves a story about Republican majorities in the Senate and House that would have been able to focus on jobs and the economy (instead of divisive constitutional amendments on voter ID, same-sex marriage and "right to work") if Dayton had only provided the vision and shown the desire.
He even claims, "Dayton has failed to endorse any Vikings stadium plan," in the same week that the governor again implored the Legislature to pass a stadium plan, this time alongside NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
Whether or not one agrees with Dayton's proposals, his intense focus on jobs is indisputable. Early in the session, the governor explicitly outlined his jobs plan, which included tax initiatives for businesses that create new jobs here in Minnesota and an investment in retraining our workforce for the most in-demand careers. He has stood shoulder to shoulder with members of both parties in touting the economic benefits a new Vikings stadium would bring our entire state.
And he has repeatedly asked the Legislature to pass a bonding bill that will create jobs, now.
While this has been the governor's vision since the current session began, it has not been until this week that the Legislature has started to move forward on the Vikings stadium proposal and a comprehensive bonding bill.
More troubling than Krinkie's feeble attempt to blame Dayton for the "do-nothing" session is the total pass he gives to the Republican majority from any responsibility for what has been, thus far, a largely ineffective Legislature.
In truth, Krinkie's rant is really about making excuses for a Republican majority that has overseen a legislative branch in gridlock and disarray.
Recent botched attempts to push a Vikings Stadium bill through the committee process and pass a bonding bill in either body revealed a GOP majority that could not lead its own members, let alone the Legislature, toward anything close to consensus. And while they have been quick to point the finger at DFLers for the gridlock, the hard reality is that Republicans ultimately control which bills live and die at the Capitol.
Political opponents resolving conflicts and tackling big issues is nothing new in Minnesota politics. In fact, for more than two decades, at least one of the houses of the Legislature has had to work with a governor of a different party.
But from passing MinnesotaCare, to managing the refund of budget surpluses, to financing the construction of Target Field, past majority leaders have negotiated meaningful agreements with governors.
If you want to get something done in a divided government, then the legislative majority simply must move and adapt bills in ways that gain a governor's signature.
Krinkie refuses to hold the Republican majority to account for their failure to effectively engage in this conflict resolution. He's trying to distract voters from the months the Republican majority squandered in St. Paul, and I don't blame him.
The majority's accomplishments this year include designating an official state dirt and passing 17 license plate bills. Just this week, they have passed bills to restrict women's access to legal health care services, "lights on" bills to diminish the consequences of future ineffective leadership and several bills to take away the rights of employees to influence the conditions of their workplace.
Most of these bills took up lawmakers' time and energy in spite of the majority knowing the bills would not earn the governor's signature.
In short, the Republican majority has missed almost every opportunity to solve the real problems facing our state. Fortunately, Dayton has laid out a clear direction that still could salvage the "do-nothing" session and move Minnesota in the right direction.
Thanks to his leadership and persistence, this week could produce the kind of hard-earned cooperation that Minnesotans ought to expect from their government.
Sheran, a DFLer, represents District 23 in the Minnesota Senate.