Thursday, May 24, 2007

MFC Salutes Rep. Marty Seifert

MFC thanks House Minority Leader Rep. Marty Seifert (Dist 21A) for his influential defense of pro-family values in the closing days of the session. Rep. Seifert played a key role in protecting children from a state mandate to teach unhealthy sex education curricula in grades 7-12.

A study of several MN public school sex education curricula exposed unhealthy sex activities including anal and anal-oral sex.

Rep. Marty heard the voices of thousands of concerned parents and fought to protect their children's sexual health from an ideological agenda that has been a colossal failure.

Call Rep. Seifert at 651-296- 5374 and thank him for his leadership.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Pawlenty Comes Out on Top

Governor Tim Pawlenty though he barely won re-election, less than 1% or 20,000 votes, was clearly in the driver's seat at the end of this session. Remarkable considering Republicans barely had enough legislators to uphold his vetoes. Because they stuck together (House Republican members upheld everyone of his vetoes), Pawlenty had incredible leverage over the DFL legislature. In fact, because DFLers were so desperate to not have a special session and be viewed as obstructionist, they bent over backwards to accommodate Pawlenty's objections to provisions in the omnibus bills. I have the image of cargo on a ship being frantically thrown overboard to accommodate Pawlenty's demands.

By hanging tough on his no tax increases he impacted policy decisions. There wasn't enough money to start new government programs. I was a bit surprised by how much he was able to clean up in terms of bad policy provisions in these bills.

The governor of Minnesota has a lot of power to get or stop what he or she wants. Much more so than the President of the United States with the U.S. Congress. Smaller pond but bigger fish is the dynamic of the governor to our state legislature.

Some of our major concerns were blocked because Pawlenty hung tough.

Laws and Sausages

I've mentioned them several times in the last couple of weeks. There's an old adage, "There are two things you don't like watch being made -- laws and sausages". The recently concluded legislative session confirmed this adage in spades. I don't think I've seen a session where the process was more convoluted and distorted. Normally, bills are introduced in the Senate and House, pass both bodies, and if there are differences, resolved in a conference committee then sent to the Governor. This year, with the governor's veto of omnibus bills, the same bills would be placed on another bill and go through the same process. Some of these omnibus bills were debated three different times on the Senate floor.

Also, these omnibus bills were "rewritten" in the Rules Committee in the Senate, not by the actual members of the conference committees. This gave extraordinary power to Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller who chairs the Rules Committee. For instance, in one of the omnibus E-12 education finance bills they basically rewrote the bill, sent it to the floor and then to the House. The way the process works, when those bills passed the Senate and went to the House, the House had to vote for them up or down which means they couldn't add amendments. So Pogemiller was setting policy for both the Senate and House in some instances.

When the education bill passed yesterday, the biggest gripe was the financial disparity between Minneapolis and outstate school districts. In some instances the gap will grow by $1,000 over the next two years to around
$5,000 per student. The disparity worsened thanks to the ability of Pogemiller to have a direct hand in the writing of the bills.

Pogemiller, a senator since 1982 and previous chair of the Senate Tax and Education Committees was known for using the system to his advantage and wearing down and cajoling his opponents to get what he wanted. Well, his
modus operandi now impacts the entire legislature.

Pawlenty to liberals - unhealthy sex education is not mandatory

Thank you Gov. Tim Pawlenty for protecting our children from unhealthy sex education. The provision to mandate sex education for all public school children grades 7-12 was removed from the E-12 bill in the 11th hour of the session. MFC credits the Governor's firm opposition as the key to it's final demise.

The mandate, and some of the sex education curricula, energized thousands of social conservatives to call the Governor expressing gratitude for his stance, and encouragement to veto any bill with comprehensive sex education.

Please, call Governor Pawlenty and thank him for his support.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Tell Speaker Anderson-Kelliher to remove mandatory sex education

Join hundreds of parents. Call Speaker Margaret Anderson-Kelliher and urge her to remove mandatory comprehensive sex education provision from E-12 education funding bill.

The speaker can be reached at 651-296-0171.

Call Rep. Mindy Greiling and urge her to stop pushing for mandatory sex education that teaches unhealthy sex activities to our children.

Join hundreds and call Grieling at 651-296-5387.

Call Gov. Tim Pawlenty and thank him for standing firm to protect children from unhealthy sex education.

Friday, May 18, 2007

To Raise or Not to Raise Taxes

The biggest sticking points between the Governor and Republicans and DFL legislative leaders is over how much to spend and whether to raise taxes. Should taxes be increased for more spending? I would argue no. Every dollar the government spends is one less dollar families and individuals can use. According to the Tax Foundation, Minnesotans send to the government - state, local or federal - nearly 34 cents of every dollar they earn. The
per capita state and local tax burden in Minnesota ranks us 11th highest in the nation.

This session the state is facing a $2.2 billion surplus and Governor Pawlenty has proposed a 9.3% budget increase over the next two years, without raising taxes. DFL senators proposed a one billion dollar tax increase so they could increase spending upwards of 15% over the next two years. This 15% increase is nearly double the growth of personal income for the typical Minnesotan over the past two years. I think there is no need to raise taxes and would argue that more money to expand government involvement in family matters is detrimental to our state; it only serves to weaken the family rather than strengthen it. It creates dependency and weakens parental rights and responsibility.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Rummel exposed

Senator Sandy Rummel (DFL-White Bear Lake) has been exposed as the beneficiary of efforts by wealthy anti-marriage amendment activists to reshape Minnesota's state legislature. Perhaps this is why she supported mandatory sex ed and the teaching of unhealthy sex activities to children grades 7-12.

It ain't over until it is over. However...

Thank you Governor Tim Pawlenty.

The incremental assault on marriage by OutFront has been put on hold for the remainder of the regular session. All references to domestic partners, implied or otherwise, have been removed.

Efforts to redefine hospital visitation privileges as domestic partnerships for same-sex couples have been postponed - until next session no doubt.

Efforts to legalize smoked "medical" marijuana by exploiting the sick may meet the same fate. MFC agrees with medical experts that any medicinal qualities in pot should go through the FDA approval process. And, that the active ingredient in pot should not be administered via smoking a marijuana cigarette.

The push to mandate sex education for children grades 7-12 is coming under fire. Gov. Tim Pawlenty indicated he did not want the mandate in the E-12 education funding bill. Something must have happened in conference committee as the bill was pulled to the senate floor without going to the finance committee. (Against senate rules.)

Perhaps the DFL could not muster the votes in committee. Several Senators reported receiving calls from constituents asking them to remove mandatory sex ed provision. Children don't need to be taught how to perform anal-oral sex with a dental dam.

A special thanks to Sen. Saltzman and Sen Vickerman for voting to remove mandatory sex ed from the bill. Unfortunately is was defeated.

Please call Gov. Pawlenty and thank him for protecting marriage and urge him to veto E-12 if it contains mandatory sex education.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Will there be a Special Session?

By Tom Prichard

I suspect there will be one. The constitutional deadline for ending work is midnight on Monday, May 21st. The legislature has yet to agree on spending targets for the K-12 education bill, and the major budget bills vetoed by Governor Pawlenty haven't been reworked. With all of the still unfinished work, I wouldn't be surprised to see the already vetoed major bills be re-passed and sent to the governor shortly before the deadline.

If the legislature takes that approach, their actions would force the governor to either accept the bills or veto them and call for a special session to begin immediately thereafter. In my opinion, it appears that liberal legislators are almost wishing for the Governor to call for a special session. If that happens, they’ll have a great chance to demonstrate their support on behalf of the interest groups that support them and for more government spending.

Interestingly though, if the special session does occur and drags out into the summer, with re-elections next year, the House legislators are putting themselves in a situation to loose more than the Governor possibly would from a special session.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

"Significant individual" singled out

In addition to local government, Governor Pawlenty identified "significant individual" as unacceptable in his letter vetoing Senate File 1997.

"The bill has not removed all of the domestic partner provisions as I have previously requested. Moreover, a provision remains in the bill that would permit the unlimited expansion of employee benefits to domestic partners and others by local units of government. Again, I am opposed to any legislation concerning domestic partners benefits, including the bill's study and the definition of 'significant individual.'"

Language gone but the result is the same

There is a major misperception regarding the "removal" of domestic partnerships from the state and government omnibus bill. Although the terms "domestic partner" and "same-sex" were removed from the state provision of the bill, the result is the same. Marrriage-like status would be granted to same-sex couples at the state level.

Governor Pawlenty vetoed the bill and called special attention to the language that would have allowed municipal governments to create marriage-like benefits. Nothing was said about the state provision. As the municipal language is more vague, we believe the Governor will veto any future bills containing loopholes that create marriage-like status at the state and municipal levels.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Pawlenty vetos bait-and-switch scheme designed to create marriage-like status for same-sex couples

“We applaud Governor Pawlenty for vetoing bills that were nothing more than bait-and-switch schemes to legalize marriage-like benefits for same-sex couples, said Chuck Darrell, director of communications for Minnesota Family Council. “OutFront understands that 61% of Minnesotans do not want to redefine marriage. So they have changed their tactics from redefining marriage to redefining health care, visitation rights and local government as domestic partnerships for same-sex couples.”

“The question is: Will passing these bills bring any closure to the same-sex marriage debate? The answer is a resounding no!” said Darrell. “States that have compromised by legalizing domestic partnerships or civil unions for same-sex couples have learned ‘There can be no compromise...’ for homosexual activists until full marriage rights are achieved. This bait-and-switch scheme is currently raging in Connecticut, Vermont and New Jersey.”

“Legislators and the people of Minnesota must understand that domestic partnerships, and the rest of the OutFront agenda, are not compromise. Instead of closure, these measures will put supporters closer to legalizing same-sex marriage – exactly what many legislators say they oppose.”

Friday, May 4, 2007

Term - "Domestic Partnership" removed from state employees provision in omnibus bill

At MFC's Legislative Luncheon last February, Gov. Tim Pawlenty said he would veto any legislation that contained domestic partnerships for same-sex couples. According to the Star Tribune, "DFLers bowed to the threat of a veto by Gov. Time Pawlenty on Thursday," and removed the domestic partner language from the omnibus bill.

At this time it is not clear whether the provision, or just the term "domestic partner" has been removed. More later.

MFC recognizes that the Governor's veto is the catalyst behind eliminating efforts to redefine marriage. "We thank Governor Pawlenty for his commitment to protecting marriage from OutFront's strategy to achieve same-sex marriage via incremental steps. I encourage supporters of traditional marriage to let the Governor know they appreciate his support and encourage him veto every bill that would enable same-sex unions, domestic partnerships, civil unions or vague language designed to create a loophole, " said Chuck Darrell, director of communications.

(Star Tribune article and link)

Domestic partner benefits are nixed
Yielding to a veto threat, legislators dropped health care benefits for state employees' domestic partners for this session.

Norman Draper, Star Tribune
State health insurance for the domestic partners of state employees appears to be a dead issue, at least for this session.

House and Senate DFLers bowed to the threat of a veto by Gov. Tim Pawlenty on Thursday, eliminating language in one of their major spending bills that would have allowed domestic partners, including same-sex partners, of state employees to be eligible for health care benefits.

Instead, members of the state government finance conference committee called for a study to determine how much it would cost the state to insure "significant individuals" who live in the same house as a state employee. That designation could cover same-sex couples, but could also include "two elderly siblings who live together and so forth," said Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, co-chair of the conference committee.

Kahn's original bill would have extended health insurance coverage exclusively to gay and lesbian couples.
"It's a disappointment," said Scott Cooper, lobbyist for OutFront Minnesota, which advocates for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender causes. "I do understand their desire to accomplish something and to somehow accommodate the governor's wishes in the hopes of avoiding a veto."

Cost also a concern

Pawlenty had threatened to veto the entire state government finance bill because both Senate and House versions originally had a provision that would have allowed same-sex partners of state employees to get health insurance benefits.

"That was one of the reasons why we changed the language," Kahn said of the veto threat.
Pawlenty spokesman Brian McClung said "we really haven't had a chance to review" the new conference committee language on a health insurance study, but added that "generally, the state government finance bill has a lot of question marks."

Health insurance coverage for state employees currently includes only spouses and dependent children.
Tom Prichard, president of the Minnesota Family Council, and a prominent opponent of same-sex marriage and civil unions, said he feared that even the study approved by the conference committee might continue to advance an agenda intended eventually to lead to approval of same-sex marriage.

"It's a bit curious that they would need a study," Prichard said. "I think they're trying to move in that [same-sex marriage] direction. I'm a bit wary of that."

Sen. Don Betzold, DFL-Fridley, the other co-chair of the committee, said that while the threat of a veto was an important reason to strike the same-sex coverage provision, he was also concerned about the potential cost of the House version, which would expand coverage to "significant individuals."

The Senate version of the bill would have required the "domestic partner" of a state employee to be eligible for state health insurance, but that person would have had to pay the entire insurance premium, costing the state nothing. The House provision split the payments between the state and the insured.

The state government finance bill funds such state operations as the Legislature, the attorney general's office, and the governor's office. The conference committee approved spending $552 million over the next two years, an increase of five percent over current spending.

Norman Draper • 612-673-4547 •