Wednesday, September 02, 2009

What your legislator thinks are high-profile issues 

On Saturday I had had some fun with the Minnesota House of Representatives list of questions that they were asking at the State Fair. An email by my state representative, Larry Haws, indicates that this is not scientific but important anyway:
This year there are 13 questions covering such topics as funding for a Vikings stadium, unallotment, medical marijuana, early voting and budget cuts versus tax increases. ...

Every year more than 6,000 Minnesotans take the House of Representatives State Fair Poll. I encourage you to show up at our booth and cast your ballot. Although this poll is not scientific, the ballot results highlight high-profile issues.

Participating in this poll is a wonderful opportunity for Minnesotans to share their concerns and opinions. Frankly, some of the best ideas come from listening to the suggestions of the people we serve at the State Legislature.
First, isn't it always the ideas of the people you represent that should be the ideas you take to the Legislature, Mr. Haws?

Second, what are these "high-profile issues"?
2. Should Minnesotans be permitted to fish with two rods at once?
3. When a person registers for a driver's license or state identification card, should they automatically be registered to vote?
8. Should speeding violations be placed on a person's driving record if the driver was traveling no more than 10 mph over the speed limit in a 60 mph zone?
9. Should the state lottery be permitted to operate slot machines inside the ticketed area at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, meaning only air travelers with valid tickets could use the machines?
13. When a homeowner prevails in a court action against a contractor or builder to have a warranty enforced, should the homeowner also be entitled to attorney fees and other costs related to the legal action?
That's five of them, Mr. Haws, that I would say you easily not answer for me next year. Hey, your 2010 just got easier! What is important is the budget mess you fellows left behind. And what are you asking about this?
5. Under current law, the governor is permitted to unallot to prevent an anticipated budget deficit. Should he or she have this power?
To use a State Fair metaphor, hasn't that horse left the barn already?
6. Should bill and budget negotiations between the governor and legislative leaders be required to be open to the public?
Really? You guys need more time on camera? What you say in a public room and what you say in a private meeting differ. Meetings on the budget need total candor, and candor and cameras do not mix. And you'll forgive me, sir, if I don't believe that this would be a high-profile issue if not for the fact that the governor currently doesn't wear the dark-blue DFL label.
7. Do you generally support budget cuts as opposed to increasing certain taxes in times of economic distress?
"Certain" taxes? Would you care to be a little more specific? I realize this isn't one of them fancy "scientific polls", as you say sir, but when you pass "certain" taxes in the past, you end up funding crappy arts via a sales tax that can't even pay off the advance you gave it. I'd like to be certain I have enough money after taxes that I can pay my bills, and I'd like to be certain that taxes I pay get used for the things you told me they'd certainly be used for. And I'd like to be certain it's not crap.

So if you don't mind, I'll take budget cuts for $4 billion, Alex, um, I mean, Larry.

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