To the editor:
The 2017 legislative session reached new – though not surprising – lows. Politics has always involved conflict; in a two-party system, how could it not? Usually that conflict is tempered by bipartisan agreement and collaboration. In a perfect world, political conflict manifests itself in compromise and meaningful results, but such was not the case this year when it came to Minnesotans’ personal internet data.
This year, internet privacy was just one example of vital public policy falling under the rampaging boots of partisanship. The brazenly partisan move by Republican legislative leaders to weaken our online privacy is shows how politics comes before principle for some at the Legislature.
A data privacy act passed nearly unanimously by both the House and the Senate, which are both controlled by Republicans. Yet that provision was stripped from its omnibus bill in conference committee. This isn’t politics as usual. This is an example of hundreds of legislators’ votes – each one a representation of thousands of Minnesotans’ voices – being casually discarded for the sake of a larger game.
And what a game it is. Those conference committees, run by Republicans, did not seek nor did they respond to public comment. Those conference committees operated under the finger of Republican leadership – Speaker of the House Kurt Daudt.
Poison pills in almost every budget bill put short-term political points ahead of Minnesota’s long-term health and stability. Daudt has spent two sessions toying with state employees. The 1,300 Department of Revenue jobs he held hostage this year were just the latest in a string of decisions made to threaten our institutions for political gain.
The willingness to threaten state jobs, as well as the programs and services they provide, makes it difficult to have any regard for a leader who displays so little respect for the vital institutions and people of our state. The Republican crusade to strip local control from communities and place it in the hands of the Legislature and big business is more fitting for lobbyists than public servants.
The line between arrogance and ignorance is thin – for some, there is no line at all.
Rep. Sandra Masin