No sooner had the Minnesota Democratic Farmer Labor Party (DFL) won back both houses of the legislature, gotten moved in, and gaveled the bodies into session, the whining from the republicans began: “the DFL is overreaching!”
We’re in the easter recess, essentially half time in the legislative process, and a good time to see if any of this “overreach” by the legislators of our partisan parties has occurred. A bunch of “wish list” bills were dumped in the hopper by DFLers, mandating things like quotas of expensive solar energy that actually had me a bit concerned. Last couple weeks the deadlines for bills to make it through committees passed, and those bills seem to be dead for the session. The major target of the GOP legislators’ ire, the marriage equality amendment, made it past the committee deadlines but appears to be on the back burner… And the GOP have only themselves to blame for that issue resurfacing, being that when they were in command they dredged it up, forgot about most everything else, and threw it before the voters who shot their anti-marriage amendment down. And despite being in the minority, the GOP legislators have done their best to clog the hopper with a bunch of “cut ‘n’ paste” bills from the rabidly conservative Koch brothers ALEC. In the exception that proves the rule, I did find one GOP bill that actually answered a real need in non partisan fashion, and the DFL leadership rewarded it by passing it out of committee.
Meanwhile, unlike the GOPers who march in lockstep, the DFLers are in the best tradition of the party debating amongst themselves- on the eve of easter recess the DFL governor dropped a new budget proposal with cuts in human services funding that isn’t receiving the warmest reception from a lot of DFLers. So on the Minnesota side of the Buffalo Ridge, if there has been any overeach it’s been to pick up a heavy serving plate on the other end of the table to bring it closer and fill the plate of a child or elder with less strength and reach.
Overreach in Iowa’s been sorta difficult, being as the voters couldn’t decide who to let run the state and gave the presidency to Barack, evenly split their congressional seats, gave the governorship to the GOP, and gave each party a statehouse. The Dakotas are another matter, but first a plug for a couple blogs from the west end of the Buffalo Ridge that cover politics and a lot more much better than the often comatose local media- http://www.madvilletimes.com in SD and http://www.northdecoder.com in ND. Reading these two most excellent blogs we find that the GOP super majorities in the Dakota’s legislatures have been working hard to give their states to big business as quickly as they can pump the oil out of the ground and fill armored cars with tax dollars to “reward” businesses that were gonna come to their states anyway to take advantage of all the federally funded infrastructure there like I-29 and cheap hydropower. In the breaks between passing ALEC’s whole kit and kaboodle of big business giveaways, the Dakota’s GOP legislators have been competing to see who can pass the most regressive social legislation. It’s gotten to the point that a comedy hoax story that the NoDak GOPers were going to outlaw thongs got taken seriously. South Dakota’s GOPers matched that by being the one and only legislature in the country to take the NRA’s armed “School Sentinels” plan seriously and pass enabling legislation. Now the Dakotas already seem to be a sex offender sanctuary, and any school district in the state can now give any sex offender that doesn’t pop up on a sketchy records search carte blanche to walk about the schools, armed to the teeth. Heck, they can even buy ‘em the gun and pay ‘em if they want to!
So when it comes to the “legislative overreach” the Minnesota DFLers are like the small college team that cheerfully loses almost every game. The GOP legislatures of the Dakotas are clearly in a whole ‘nother league… Overreach? Heck, they’re workin’ overtime with the biggest backhoe made with the “extendahoe” option and an 80 feet extension of oil pipe welded onto that!