May 3, 2012

House Passes Standards Bill & Strongly Rejects Dayton Unionization Plan

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Realizing the very sad state of both the social studies standards that are being totally rewritten instead of revised as per the law, and the English standards after the state’s very unwise decision to adopt the Common Core described in our last alert, the House wisely passed SF 1656.  Sadly, none of the DFL House members participated.  The vote was 71-61. All of the Republicans except Rep. Jim Abeler (R-Anoka) voted yes and all of the Democrats voted no.  Thanks very much for your involvement!!

On the childcare unionization front, since our last alert on that subject, Governor Dayton vetoed HF 1766 authored by Senator Ted Lillie and Rep. Kathy Lohmer, both Republicans from Lake Elmo.  That bill would have prohibited the raiding of childcare subsidies for union dues and fair share fees.  Because the unions are not slowing down in their intensity to unionize private childcare businesses whether they want it or not, and the governor is still contemplating an appeal of Judge Lindman’s April 6th ruling, these business owners are still rightly concerned.

In response both to the governor’s veto and to the judge’s ruling that the Dayton executive order for a unionization election of less than half of the affected child care providers was “an unconstitutional usurpation of the Legislature’s constitutional right to make and or amend laws,” the House Republicans gave the Democrats a chance to go on record regarding the governor’s plan.  Rep. Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington) offered an amendment  to a bill by Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R-Mazeppa) dealing with state employee layoff policy.  The Garofalo amendment set up a childcare unionization election.  Before this was debated, Rep. Brandon Petersen (R-Andover) offered an amendment to the amendment that would have put the entire Dayton childcare union election executive order into law verbatim.

The debate went on for almost two hours (here starting at approx. 1:15). DFL legislators mostly offered criticism of the process, with members calling it a “mockery,” accusing the Republicans of “playing games” and saying it “made him sick” (1:26 – Rep. Joe Atkins, DFL-Inver Grove Heights).  Leader of the early childhood nanny state forces, the retiring Rep. Nora Slawik (DFL-Maplewood) (1:22) could only argue about the need for a vote and how the amendment was just “messing around.”  She had no substantive arguments whatsoever for why the governor’s executive order was constitutional or why an election that only involved less than half the affected childcare providers even being able to vote was proper. In fact she lauded the fact that other states had gone around their legislatures and unionized childcare workers by executive order.  Neither did Rep. John Persell (1:32:50 DFL-Bemidji), who whined about the cost of running the House during the debate.

Those DFL members that actually spoke in support of the election such as Rep. Ryan Winkler (1:45, DFL Golden Valley) accused the majority of not being capable of governing so they shouldn’t be spending time debating this issue. Rep. Jim Davnie (2:28:24-DFL-Minneapolis) sarcastically spoke of how his fellow Democrats “just didn’t get it,” and that elections supposedly to allow people to band together to work for their neighbors and fellow employees were not a good idea in the Republicans’ eyes.  He pointed out that people were  “supposed to vote on other people’s marriages” instead of on these sainted elections that involve less than half of those affected by the decisions. It is interesting to note, however, that after Davnie’s long, biting tirade, he failed to join his union colleagues who had the courage of their convictions in their support of the governor’s scheme.

Other DFL speeches in a similar vein were made by Rep. Kerry Gauthier (2:17:08 DFL-Duluth) and Rep. Carly Melin (2:20:30 DFL-Hibbing).

The Republicans actually made sensible arguments showing the problems with the way that this election order was done, what it would have done and why it is very relevant:

Garafalo 1:24 – “I would urge members to send a very strong signal in case there is any appellate decision on this matter. The legislature stands squarely in support of this ruling and that we oppose the forced unionization of childcare and private businesses in our state.”
Rep. Mary Franson (1:25 R-Alexandria) – Explained that according to hearing testimony on this issue the plan by AFSCME and SEIU all along was to circumvent the legislature because it was controlled by Republicans and go to Governor Dayton for the executive order. She later put to rest Rep. Winkler’s argument by elucidating the list of what the Republicans have accomplished.
Wardlow 1:29 – “This amendment is not a joke. And not a joke – what Governor Dayton tried to do…The governor tried to do something that was…detrimental to one of the most important bulwarks that protects liberty – the separation of powers.”
Rep. Jim Abeler – (1:38, R-Anoka) In response to DFL’s complaints of triviality reminded them of exactly that same type of maneuvers that they had pulled and concluded with, “We get paid to debate, and that’s actually the sanctity of this place – That anybody can debate anything they want for as long as they want and then they vote and then they go home.  So debate the issue, don’t debate the process.”
“Rep. Torrey Westrom (1:41:40 R-Elbow Lake) spoke of how the governor and DFL wanted the unionization of childcare to happen out of the public eye, “in a vacuum, behind stage, behind the curtains.”
Retiring conservative stalwart Rep. Mark Buesgens (2:23:30  R-Savage, said while quoting Dr. Martin Luther King, “…And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe nor political nor popular, but one must take it because it is right.”  After having bravely tried to amend Right to Work legislation in to a bill during a different floor session and describing the profligate and ill-advised spending looming in the stadium and bonding bills, moved to adjourn for the session. His motion, to the chagrin of fiscal conservatives, was overruled.
There was also an excellent speech by Rep. Duane Quam (2:15:23 R-Byron.
Perhaps most revealing of the shallow and untenable nature of the DFL position is this exchange that occurred between Rep. Keith Downey (R-Edina), and Rep. Tim Mahoney (D-St. Paul). Mahoney accused Downey of characterizing union elections as communist plots:
Downey (2:03:28) – “…And so this supposedly fair election, even if all 4,300 of the subsidized childcare providers had voted for unionization, that would not have been even half of all the childcare providers in the entire state.  Now I like elections, but I like American elections where everybody gets to vote, not North Korean elections, Rep. Winkler, where you choose who gets to vote, so you get the outcome that you want…Even if we assumed that only the subsidized childcare providers are the only ones that would end up paying these union dues, we’d suck about $1.2 million out of of the childcare subsidies that parents and families and small business owners rely on…and where would it go? Straight into the pockets of AFSCME, Council 5 and SEIU… The governor’s executive order was directly going to result in between one and three million dollars going directly in to the pockets of SEIU & AFSCME, Council 5…”
Mahoney (2:32:19) – “…Oh my God! Did you really compare a union election to a North Korean communist dictatorship? Oh my God! Are you that..? Are you that…? I can’t even come up with the right word!!…I hope every union person in this state, in this nation realizes that Rep. Downey thinks that a union election is the same thing as a communist country’s dictatorship election. I want an apology from you!!…”
Downey Response (2:35:40) -“… What I said was that Governor Dayton was going to offer the election to 4,300 out of a total of 11,000 daycare providers…What I said was, I like elections like Rep. Winkler and you, I like elections, but I want fair elections.  And it’s not in America where you offer an election to half the people that are going to be affected by that election.  So I stand by my comment that that is not a fair election. And making the comment that that’s the way they do it in other countries where they don’t have fair elections is a pretty fair comparison.”

Rep. Petersen’s speeches throughout the debate rightly summarized the lack of constitutionality, how the process had been done out of the public eye until that debate, and how desperate the DFL appeared during their debate.  Ultimately the measure failed with only 16 voting in favor, 114 voting against, and 5 not voting for unknown reasons.  All those voting in favor of the unionization scheme were Democrats:

Falk, Gauthier, Hilty, Laine, Lesch, Liebling, Mahoney, Mariani, Melin, Murphy, M. Persell, Rukavina, Slawik, Slocum

Reps. Petersen, Garofalo, and the House Republican Caucus are to be commended for standing up for family and small, private business autonomy as well as constitutional separation of powers and fair elections.  It was also very smart legal strategy to put the DFL on record as not being willing to support the governor’s extra-constitutional tactics. Let us hope that the minority of Republican legislators like Petersen and Garofalo who support the quality rating system realize that QRSs are just as dangerous and costly to parental and provider rights and business and impose a radical one-size fits all curriculum on the all providers that are rated as this daycare election scheme.

Please urge Gov. Dayton  (651-201-3400 or email) to sign SF 1656 and to not pursue an appeal in the unionization lawsuit. And please thank your legislators for their good votes on these issues.

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