There wasn't much substance to last week's rollout of Kurt Zeller's House Caucus Reform 2.0 brand, not a great surprise given its retro 2005 number dot zero hipster vibe. Mary LaHammer wrote in Republican Reform 2.0:
Gearing up for the Minnesota State Fair, House Republicans say they want to engage Minnesotans in reforming government, not just talking about taxes and spending. . . .Speaker Kurt Zellers added that announcing a legislative agenda in August for a January session is "about taking the time and giving the opportunity to engage Minnesotans." Republicans also reiterated a commitment to passing a constitutional amendment on fiscal policy, such as requiring a supermajority to raise taxes.
And the author of the bill for that? Representative Steve Drazkowski, who did most of the talking about it at the presser.
The MNGOP reformers are carrying on about their hip new crowdsourcing at the Fair. Fox News 9 reports in Politicians Get Warm State Fair Reception:
This year at the fair, the states GOP is pushing what they call "Reform 2.0," and is seeking ideas for 2012.
"We're going to be aggressive," said Rep. Peg Scott, of Andover. "We want to hear from the people of Minnesota."
That constitutional amendment--the centerpiece bill of Reform 2.0--didn't come from the people of Minnesota. It's one of the model bills from corporate bill factory, the American Legislative Exchange Council, of which Representative Drazkowski is a high-profile member. ALEC Exposed sums up the problem with the bill:
Through ALEC, corporations voted bills to rewrite the tax code that would increase their profits or the riches of their CEOs by:
Helping the richest of the rich get richer, through. . .
Allowing a small minority of legislators to thwart tax increases, regardless of public needs, by:
- Amending state constitutions to require that all tax and license fee increases be approved by a 2/3 majority of the legislature, allowing a minority of politicians to dictate policy and thwart majority will.
We'll take Draz for everything, ALEC
Draz has stood for the measure's corporate sponsors, via the proxy group ALEC, on numerous occasions. His controversial 2010 anti-immigrant bill, HF3830, is a copycat of Arizona's SB1070 legislation, now well demonstrated to be legislation drafted and promoted by ALEC. National Public Radio made the case last October in Shaping State Laws With Little Scrutiny. The Drazkowski copycat bill is mentioned in the report.
Earlier this month, the Minnesota Independent's Jon Collins reported that HF3830 co-author Ron Shimanski is a member of ALEC's Civil Justice task force; the NPR broadcast attributed SB1070 to this ALEC task force.
In November 2010, an ALEC press release listed Draz as a supporter of the Repeal Amendment it was touting. Though failing to note the connection between Repeal Amendment lead Marianne Moran and ALEC, Minnpost's Eric Black delineated Draz's involvement with the idea in Tentherism by new amendment? back in December. Money quote about Draz:
Drazkowski hasn't drafted a bill, nor talked much to legislative leaders, but has talked to a few Republican colleagues (no Dems yet, but he says he will) about the idea and they like it.
Drafting bills is hard work, so it's good that Draz has ALEC to take care of that for him.
And then Draz was a signatory, along with Majority Leader Matt Dean, of ALEC's 2009 letter to congressional leadership opposing national health care reform.
ALEC's traveling monkey show*
So now The Draz is on the road in a series of town halls in small towns, reported by the Winona Daily News in Howe, Drazkowski talk state budget at town hall meeting and the Kenyon Leader in Budget clarified in meeting. Go read about the meetings there.
The latter article mentions that Drazkowski distributed a Reform 2.0 survey to the 30 or so people who attended the meeting. Bluestem hazards to guess that it was crafted with the usual scientific precision of the voter surveys that Republican legislators send out to constituents. Props to any reader who can scan and forward a copy.
Not everyone is buying the annotated monkey show. One voter in Draz's district writes to the editors of the Rochester Post Bulletin in Legislators listen to party, not constituents, saying that the victory tour is little more than a vehicle for a preset legislative agenda, regardless of the packaging. Nancy Fawthorp of Lake City concludes:
One of the main "happy horsemen," Rep. Steve Drazkowski, will be out there saying the same old, same old with a smile pasted on. It gets really tiresome. I have "conversed" with him via email but he is so caught up in his American Legislative Exchange Council pledge, he tries to rebut everything you tell him. And he says he wrote every bill he introduced himself'! I don't believe that for one minute.
Image: The Chocolate Drazombie Bunny by Tild. *The term "monkey show" is a phrase I heard while living in the Ozarks, a regional variation on the notion of a dog and pony show. Bluestem isn't comparing Draz to a primate.