The Session that Was

I haven’t traditionally been an anti-government guy, but after this season at the old Minnesota State Legislature I now understand how folks could go off the deep end when it comes to government.

Among the fine work at our state house this session:

Selling alcohol on Sunday- FAIL. There’s no dumber issue in the State of Minnesota than the so call “controversy” around selling booze on Sunday. If I taught high school debate I would have my kids study the arguments and tactics taken by legislators who can, with a straight face, get up and argue that there’s some public good by not allowing Sunday liquor sales in Minnesota. By my count there were about six bills this session that came up for consideration to change our states blue laws and every one of them failed or was pulled from consideration thanks to intense lobbying from the Beverage Licensing board. The thing that really chaps my ass about this whole argument is that our brave legislators have decided that this is an issue that’s so important that they’re willing to ignore the sentiments of the vast majority of Minnesotans. Important to who you ask? A minority group of small liquor store owners and Teamsters who don’t want to work on Sunday.

The real issue here is economics. On one hand is the small liquor store owners who contribute to the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association, this is the lobbying group that buys weak willed legislators, empowering them to support what is by ANY argument a stupid position. We also have the Teamsters who are worried, from I’ve been told, that allowing sales of booze on Sunday would force them to have to renegotiate their contracts with distributors and may require them to work on Sunday. Talk about a special interest group run amok. What’s really at stake here, at least from the so called small liquor store owners is the threat they see from opening any debate on Minnesota liquor stores because it could bring into play grocery store liquor sales, which they’re deathly afraid off. We’re one of the very few states in the US where you can’t buy booze in a grocery store. In every other state that I know of where you can, there are still mom and pop stores in business. So in effect this is also a lame argument.

The only good thing about this debate is it has exposed some really silly and quite frankly straight up dumb arguments by legislators in this state who have demonstrated, at least to me, that perhaps we should require law degrees for the folks we empower to make laws because some folks just aren’t qualified.

Of particular note in the parade of idiocy on this was State Senator Rod Skoe of District 2, one of more northerly and isolated districts in the state. He happens to chair the Tax Committee. He was responsible for killing an amendment to the 2014 tax bill that would have allowed microbrewery tap rooms to sell growlers, jugs of their beer, on Sundays. Rod stripped it out in a fake committee meeting and when he got called on the carpet for his little back room closeted maneuver he had the following defense:

We had a meeting, no one testified.

Bullshit Rod. Doug Grow reported that you had a four minute unannounced meeting and made a decision. There was no testimony because on one knew what you were doing. Don’t know how you do things on the Northwest Angle but that’s the sort of backroom stuff that taxpayers hate. Of course Skoe and his gang are big supporters of legislative maneuvering when it works in their favor. Next when called on the carpet by Republican legislators who questioned why there are even tax implication Skoe made the follow specious argument.

Municipal liquor store in some state cities hold down property taxes. If you force them to open on Sunday, they won’t be as profitable and property taxes will go up.

That’s a mind numbing argument if you ask me. He called for “study” to see what the impact would be. Study? Like this is some kind of new idea on the cutting edge of political discourse? One day on the phone to a counter part in almost any other state around us and you’d have all data you need. Not to mention that no one is saying munis has to open on Sunday. So Rod looks kinda dumb defending a lame premise. Republicans thought so too because they pushed him on it, from what I read in Doug Grow’s article on MinnPost, they were nearly laughing about it and questioned him with some enthusiasm. Not surprising given how weak the argument is/was.

After being called out for being lame, and for bypassing normal Senate rules Rob came up with the following well thought out argument, which BTW was all over the local press-

People shouldn’t need to buy liquor on Sundays, they should be able to just plan a little ahead.

I honestly can’t make this stuff up, this is Steven Colbert material. What a self-serving moron this guy is. So the “problem” with liquor sales on Sunday is that Minnesotan’s can’t plan ahead? It’s the consumers fault.. uh huh..

The education gap between northern Minnesota and the cities is a lot worse than I thought.

Marijuana So this is a great juxtaposition that demonstrates to me that government by the people might have run it course. We hem and haw about liquor on Sunday for DECADES, and then when the first legalize pot bill comes up… Well this is Minnesota so we can’t actually take a stand one way or another, we have to create a passive aggressive compromise that once again show sheer stupidity. This time the stupidity is with our Governor who wants to give the folks who “need” pot access to it, but doesn’t want to offend Law Enforcement. So the compromise is.. and those of you in other states sit down for this. Medical Marijuana is legal in Minnesota as long as you don’t smoke it! That’s right you can have access to pot in pill form, oil or by inhaling vapors. Vapors.. yeah you can inhale the stuff, just can’t inhale it when it comes from combustion. No wonder we can’t figure out what side of the street to park on during snow emergencies.

Let’s all stop pretending and agree that medical pot is about 10% medical benefits, unproven btw and 90% about getting high. I’m not exactly sure where I even stand on legalizing pot. At the most basic level I don’t give a rip what people do in their own homes, get high all you want. I do know, from family experience that chronic pot use will over time cause some harm. I have a barely functional cousin who’s been smoking bowlfuls of the stuff since probably 1975. She’s in her 60’s now, barely able to support herself, batshit crazy and living the hippie lifestyle eeking out a living selling crap online. I don’t know if pot was to blame for her dysfunction per se, but it certainly didn’t help.

When it comes to medical marijuana I’m just not on board. In California the medical marijuana deal was a complete and total scam. Go into any dispensary and you find yourself in a headshop where folks loaded with buyers who have made every possible ailment just to get a card, when all they really wanted to was to get high. Maybe in Minnesota we’ll actually learn something about the benefits of the drug, our laws might “weed” out the stoner crown and keep us honest with folks who claim to need it.

But it got through, the pot lobby found some people with kids, and their kids could only be helped with pot and so they leveraged their kids to pull on the heartstrings of the legislature and in one session.. boom we got THC pills and vapors. We didn’t get smoking dope so now I predict we’ll see a debate next year about how folks can ONLY be helped my actually smoking weed, because you know, taking a pill doesn’t do it. Smells like BS.

ECigs And Speaking of vapors, we were able get some serious restrictions on e-cigarettes. Which could be the lamest set of nanny state laws yet to be enacted in this state. And believe me we enact a lot of ‘um. Basically the legislature, which apparently is filled with scientists and respiratory therapists have decided to ban “vaping” in public buildings, restaurants and bars, basically wherever cigarettes are banned. They’ve done this because.. Well I don’t know exactly why they’ve done it. The only logic I can imagine is “if it looks like smoking, it must be as bad for you as smoking” and we all know the purpose of government in a representative democracy is to protect citizens from dangers they’re not able to realize are dangerous. This week the City of Minneapolis has deiced to make vaping illegal in city parks. Because…

This whole thing just leaves me speechless and puts me in the uncomfortable position of thinking maybe Texas has some things right when it comes to regulation. E-Cigs are a new product, I get it that we don’t know much about them yet, we especially don’t know what’s in the liquids that people are burning and inhaling. Fair enough, there’s case to me made that we probably should know what’s in them. When we do know, make the determination of public safety then, not just because it looks like something we don’t like, cigarette smoking. I had a coworker who smoked ciggs for years and years. She switched to the ecigs and literally never lit up another tobacco product. Is it a safer option? The science would tell us that not inhaling tar, shoe polish and carcinogens is a good thing. She would vap in the office back in the day, and you know what? I never freak’n knew. You know why I never knew? Because I couldn’t smell and I couldn’t see it, so who the hell cares? And if she does drop dead next week.. it was her choice.

Not allowing people to smoke ecigs in parks however really takes the damned cake. I can’t imagine that smoking ciggies or cigars in parks hurts anyone. Protecting the children from asthma attacks from what I’ve read on the side of busses. I have asthma, maybe because my parents smoked 4 packs a day between them, and often when I was in the car with the widows closed. But a park? Are we assuming that one wiff of demon tobacco is enough to cause harm? Enough.

This really epitomizes for me arrogance these politicians, who apparently have solved every other problem in this state, have for the rest of us. They now find themselves down to looking for ways to get measures passed to show their effectiveness while not actually doing anything. Helps to get you reelected when you have a record of getting stuff passed. Can’t figure out any other reason.

That’s enough ranting for one session. See you next year law makers.


Filed under Life

2 responses to “The Session that Was

  1. Even died-in-the-wool Teamsters don’t understand why they can’t buy a growler on a Sunday or pick up a six-pack in a grocery store (with the exception of 3.2, of course-what a joke). The Teamster big-wigs are going to have a lot of explaining to do to the members. I can’t wait to hear the explanation of that one. The entire legislature is full of crazies. More like a circus that a branch of government.

  2. Ken in Northfield

    I want to see FDA regulated pot and academic studies that show effectiveness of various doses of pot for various illnesses. Same kind of study necessary for stuff made into vapors for e-cigs. As for Sunday sales, free the liquor stores and the car stores.

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