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Tuesday, March 22, 2005

How Progressives Fared at the Legislature

I'm actually not ready to answer that question until I review the bills that passed more intensively and see what the governor does on April 8 (deadline to sign passed bills), but perfunctorily (sp?), here's my take.

Election Reform
Paper trails, whether you think they are necessary or not, can't hurt the public's faith in the system, nor can further uniformity statewide for elections. But, in my opinion, without Same Day Registration—which didn't pass—you're still not doing everything you can to promote participation.

OK, animals aren't necessarily a progressive issue per se, but, still. Glad the racist dog bills didn't pass (that's how I think of the bills that ban specific breeds). A dangerous dog bill did pass. I still think a bill to regulate dangerous owners of dogs would be better. A bill to require antifreeze to have a bittering agent so dogs don't drink it passed (it's very poisonous). Sadly, though, a ban on cockfighting went nowhere, so we're still one of two states with this "sport" made legal.

Human Rights
The much-discussed Defense of Marriage Act bill died in the House—thank God. Sadly, the bill to repeal the Death Penalty also died. What's the French expression? La plus ca change, la plus ca meme? Um, yeah, in English, basically things are the same.

Lowered the age for concealed weapons from 25 to 21 (which, I hope, will shame some lawmakers given the horrible killing in the high school this week in MN. Why do we need to let younger people carry concealed weapons? On the bright side, minors will not be required to tell their parents before they have an abortion.

The domestic well bill failed AGAIN. I have to say, maybe it's time to get some new lobbyists on this one, folks. The energy bill passed, but I'm still not sure what I think of it. Ostensibly it makes it easier for power companies to use renewables, but I'm suspicious of it. Possibly just because I'm suspicious.

Other Things I Find Ridiculous
The designation of the hot air balloon as the state aircraft.
The creation of a State Coin Commission
The inability to pass a law not allowing DWI convicts to drive state vehicles
That the House voted against a law that would have allowed people to know the retail price of their prescriptions (nice try Peter Wirth)

Actually, it's quite amazing to look at just how many laws don't go anywhere. It's basically, from what I can tell, no-brainers make it through, controversial topics take years and years of re-hearing and only finally pass when the governor throws his support behind them, and, basically, everyone is there to get the $ to take home, but knows damn well that their attempts to actually change law are going to, mostly, go nowhere.

OK, maybe that's a little harsh. Or maybe it isn't. But, as far as progressive laws go, there wasn't anything to write home about really.