Republicans remark that they won't be shy despite their new minority status
ST. PAUL -- Don't expect Minnesota Republicans to throw in the towel just because they're now in the minority. "We're not looking at sitting just quietly in the corner," House Minority Leader Marty Seifert, R-Marshall, said Friday. Like House Dem...
ST. PAUL -- Don't expect Minnesota Republicans to throw in the towel just because they're now in the minority.
"We're not looking at sitting just quietly in the corner," House Minority Leader Marty Seifert, R-Marshall, said Friday.
Like House Democrats, their GOP counterparts will focus on tax relief, education and health care reform, Seifert said while announcing his party's agenda. The Republican approach will be different.
Exactly what Republicans' tax relief plans are will be outlined on Tuesday, Seifert said. Education proposals, he added, will look to provide equity and new funding formulas for per-pupil aid to local schools.
"No child should receive a lesser education because of their ZIP code," Seifert said.
House Republicans likely will back Gov. Tim Pawlenty's health care package, Seifert said, but will also introduce their proposal in coming weeks. Like the Republican governor's plan, the House GOP approach would center on private sector solutions, said Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Delano.
"Government run health care is not the cure," he said, referring to a Senate DFL proposal that eventually aims to offer coverage to all.
Democrats took control of the House and stronger control of the Senate in the November election.
The Minnesota Senate hardly had met when leaders decided to change a committee.
Sen. Gary Kubly, DFL-Granite Falls, had been named chairman of the natural resources subdivision, but last week it expanded to the environment, energy and natural resources subdivision to add more emphasis on energy issues.
"People are really interested in energy issues and what Minnesota can do to expand it's successes in the areas of renewable and alternative forms of energy," Kubly said. "There are a lot of potential forms of energy for the state to tap. Since these industries will bring good-paying jobs to our communities, I advocated for the opportunity to lead the discussion in this area."
A senator on the job just a few days is one of the Senate Democratic leaders.
Sen. Dan Skogen, DFL-Hewitt, will be a majority whip. Whips work the Senate floor attempting to keep their members voting a certain way, and keep track of colleagues to make sure they are available for votes.
Sviggum chastises DFL
Democratic control in the Legislature already has led to out-of-control spending, said Rep. Steve Sviggum.
The Kenyon Republican said committee expansion and per diem expenses are evidence that Democrat-Farmer-Labor Party leaders are in "self-serving" mode.
"Democrats have thumbed their collective noses at taxpayers by expanding state government and voting themselves a big fat pay raise," Sviggum said.
House and Senate rules committees approved expense and housing increases.
House Majority Leader Tony Sertich, DFL-Chisholm, called Sviggum's remarks "amazing."
Sviggum, he noted, was the second-highest receiver of per diem pay in the Legislature between 2005 and 2006.
"I believe actions speak louder than words," Sertich said.
Over that period, Sviggum was House speaker - a position that generally requires more responsibilities and travel than other legislators.
As for the committee expansion, Sertich said he believes it's "vitally important" that all members have an opportunity to serve. He noted that staff size didn't increase as a result.
Sviggum claimed more committees are a sign of governmental expansion.
GOP idea challenged
House Republicans want to limit state aid paid to Minneapolis and St. Paul to funding public safety programs, but mayors of those two cities - both Democrats - think the idea is ludicrous.
"The first test of any city is public safety, and our state's largest city -- Minneapolis -- is failing that test," Rep. Steve Smith, R-Mound, said in announcing GOP crime proposals. "Minneapolis and Saint Paul need to get their priorities straight. Police and fire are the safeguards of our communities. They must have the resources necessary to keep our cities, streets and families safe."
All Local Government Aid to the cities would be allowed to be used only for police and fire protection, Smith said.
St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak issued statements saying they strongly disagree with Smith's idea and argued that the cities should continue to have freedom to decide how to spend the money.
Republicans also would expand public notification of where sex offenders live.