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Capitol Review: Voter ID, Right To Work, Bielenberg Project

Patch catches up with Sen. Ted Lillie and Rep. Andrea Kieffer about what they’re up to at the Capitol and the major issues facing this year’s Legislature.

Lawmakers at the Capitol have been working long hours as the 2012 session nears its completion.

Sen. Ted Lillie, , said he was there Monday from the early morning to 10 p.m.

Asked what he’s working on of late, Lillie referenced a bill that would put a two-year moratorium on rules that impact business owners. One of the complaints he heard from job-creators is that Minnesota laws and regulations change too often.

“They can’t keep up with it,” Lillie said.

There are several “off ramps” in the bill that allow legislators to continue making rules for things like hunting and fishing or public safety, the Republican leader said. “A good-cause clause.”

“The public is protected, the environment is protected,” Lillie said. “But at some point we have to cut back so the businesses can do business.”

Other legislation Lillie is working on include:

  • updates to the Angel Investor bill, which gives small tech companies tax credits for reinvesting in their companies;
  • a bill that eliminates the retirement age for judges; and
  • a bill that allows funds from local municipalities to remain in local banks rather than going to larger institutions elsewhere.

Bielenberg Expansion

A bill that would allow Woodbury to extend an existing levy for use toward the renovation was set to have a hearing today, March 14, according to Rep. Andrea Kieffer, a Republican from Woodbury.

    

The legislation would allow the city to save money because the funds—initially used for general obligation bonds—can’t be used to fund recreational facilities under state law. The Woodbury City Council tonight, March 14, is expected to approve a resolution in support of the legislation.

“I do agree with local control,” Kieffer said. “And sometimes these state mandates and state laws end up costing us money. It’s just silly.”

Kieffer said there have been concerns that such an exception would mean the city can spend more on the replacement for the sports center’s dome.

“That’s a different issue,” she said. “What I’m trying to do is save (Woodbury) money on a project.”

Other legislation Kieffer is working on include:

  • a consumer-protection bill that would eliminate up-front costs for certain home loan modifications. “We’re just closing that loophole,” she said.
  • a bill that clears up language in law that provides a three-day window for people to cancel contracts they sign with door-to-door salespeople.

Right to Work

The discussion about the a proposed constitutional amendment that would makes it so unions can no longer require membership, or collect dues from non-members who work in a union shop.

Lillie is a co-author of the bill.

“It’s employee freedom,” he said. “We should not be forced to have an intermediary.”

Lillie said he is fine with people joining unions if they so choose, but workers shouldn’t be forced to pay dues or fees.

Voter ID

A bill that would place on this fall’s ballot a question about whether people should have to show photo identification when they vote is gaining steam at the Legislature.

The proposed constitutional amendment is an important issue, Lillie said.

“We need to ensure that when somebody votes their vote counts, and counts once,” he said.

Kieffer, too, said she supports the measure, and there is only a “vocal minority” that opposes it.

“A lot of their arguments, I don’t think hold water,” she said.

Vikings Stadium

Kieffer said she wants the Vikings to remain in Minnesota, but she does have some concerns about using e-pull tabs as the funding mechanism for a new stadium.

“If (the money) doesn’t come in, the backstop is the general fund,” she said. “I’m not really comfortable with that whole thing.”

While an NFL team is important to having a first-class metro area, Kieffer said, the state has had to make cuts and is still working to pay back schools for last year’s funding shift. The state doesn’t generally fund private enterprises, she said.

“We need to look at that very carefully,” Kieffer said.

Lillie, meanwhile, said the Republican caucus hasn’t discussed the matter yet, and he would reserve judgment until he has had a chance to peruse the legislation.

 

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