A source at the capitol tells Bluestem that a retired Republican lawmaker, former House Minority Leader and 2014 Republican gubernatorial primary challenger Marty Seifert, is "lobbying for the gas tax increase."
That information makes sense, despite Seifert's notorious role in stripping "The Override Six"of their leadership positions after they voted to override Governor Pawlenty's gas tax veto in 2007. Moreover, as Minnesota Public Radio reported in August 2014 in Seifert would tap reserve for roads as governor, "He opposes an increase in the gas-tax."
Why the change? One of Seifert's clients in his new gig as a lobbyist for Flaherty & Hood is the Highway 14 Partnership, which seeks to upgrade the notoriously dangerous highway corridor to a four-lane highway between Rochester and New Ulm.The Owatonna People's Press recently covered some of the issues in Highway 14 Partnership, state legislators to continue advocacy for Corridors of Commerce funding.
While the group's focus in 2015 on funding $200 million for the Highway 14 Corridors of Commerce project doesn't specifically call for a gas tax increase, the group did support it in 2014 (see page 2 of the embedded pdf below).
This is the season of epiphanies, and it doesn't surprise Bluestem that Seifert could see and finally follow the star to hiking the gas tax to improve and repair rural roads and bridges, especially if he's being paid to promote the option.
As the Star Tribune reported in Former gubernatorial candidate Seifert to lobby for outstate interests, Seifert felt his "Greater Minnesota Guy" persona is a good fit:
Marty Seifert, a former Republican House leader who ran for governor twice, will join Flaherty & Hood as a lobbyist, the firm said on Friday. The St. Paul law and legislative advocacy firm represents Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities, Greater Minnesota Partnership and U.S. Highway 14 Partnership, among others, which makes it a natural fit, Seifert said.
"I want to believe in what I'm doing," Seifert said.
Given his close relationship with Speaker Daudt, Bluestem can only hope that Seifert will use his new status as a wise men to shepherd the Crown lawmaker to a new understanding of the need for a more stable revenue long-term revenue fix for transportation funding.
Here's the Highway 14 Partnership's 2014 Legislative Policy Positions statement, which includes a gas tax increase.
Photo: Former House Minority Leader Marty Seifert.
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