Tuesday, May 24, 2016

These Days, Divided Government Is Do-Nothing Government

Minnesota's part-time legislature just ended its February–May session without finishing most of the important work it had. No bonding bill, no transportation bill (in the state with bridges that fall down).

They did manage to pass a couple of items that are important and somewhat in the right direction (sentencing reform to decrease prison populations and rules for body cameras for cops), but they stranded our next light rail line without the state money needed to match the federal and local dollars already committed. They didn't raise our state's monthly MFIP payments, which haven't been increased since 1986. No guaranteed sick leave. They can't agree on raising the tax on gas or the fees for car registrations to pay for transportation, since the Republicans want to use one-time money from the surplus to fund ongoing costs. Sounds like a plan.

This is what divided government looks like; our House is Republican-led, our Senate is Democrat-led, and our governor is a Democrat.

But rest easy, they did manage to pass one bill, according to Monday's Star Tribune:

A law creating, for the first time, animal trusts, which allow people to leave money dedicated for care of their animals in their bequests. Minnesota was the only state in the nation without such a law.
I don't know why there needs to be a law allowing this specifically (it's your money, so why can't you just do what you want with it?), but when we have children in extreme poverty and bridges falling down, it doesn't seem too important to me (as regular readers can probably figure out, based on my list of things I don't care about).

And then I found out that the legislature also passed a bill revoking our state high school sports league's tax-exempt status, which will cost the league $800,000 a year and gut their budget for scholarships that allow low-income kids to play sports too.

The reason for this change in tax status? A majority of legislators, led by Republicans, were angry that the league adopted a policy allowing transgender teens to play sports on the teams that align with their gender and not their sex as determined at birth.

So the legislature had time for turning the screws on poor kids yet again in that case, while making sure the dogs and cats are taken care of. Sounds like they've got their priorities straight, if you'll pardon the pun.

The solution is to vote the Republicans out of office this fall, and I hope my fellow Minnesotans will do just that. Minnesota's Republicans and Democrats used to work together, even past the days of the "Reagan Revolution." But clearly, they can't do that anymore, and the needs of the state's people can't be sacrificed to an ideology that Kansas (and Wisconsin) have demonstrated does not work.

No comments: