In 2015, Minnesota's state government received a shameful "D-" rating from the Center for Public Integrity.
According to the same Center for Public Integrity study, 60 former state lawmakers have become lobbyists in Minnesota since 2002. Both former Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party and Republican Party state lawmakers have taken advantage of our state's incredibly weak conflict of interest laws; some even became registered lobbyists within only weeks of leaving public office.
"You should go into politics to do good, not to do well."
Unlike executive and local governments, our state House and Senate are not required by Minnesota's Government Data Practices Act to make all meetings and documents open to the public*. Instead, the legislature sets its own rules that allow a handful of legislators to decide our futures in the dead of night behind closed doors.
Our legislators are becoming increasingly unresponsive to our concerns while squandering our tax dollars on massive handouts like the multi-million dollar tax breaks they've tried to give to the tobacco industry--which poured at least $487,000 into our state in 2016 and 2017 to influence policy making. I believe that we need to end this growing practice of auctioning off influence that rightfully belongs to us. This isn't how we do things in Minnesota, and I think it's time that we remind them.
Components of my vision for building a government that works for us includes:
- A 20-year ban on legislators operating as registered lobbyists in Minnesota once they leave office. I would also propose a 10-year ban on legislators participating in any capacity with political advocacy non-profits and think tanks that would seek to reward favorable votes from current and former legislators. This would help to effectively break the financial incentive that currently exists for sitting and former state legislators to legislate on behalf of anyone other than the people in their communities who elected them, while preserving the first amendment rights of former legislators to engage in political activism later down the road.
- Require all state budget targets to be established 14 days before the end of the legislative session, and be made open to public testimony before coming to a vote. This will help ensure that billion dollar decisions about our future prosperity are not being hastily decided behind closed doors without a chance for us to voice our concerns.
- Limit the amount of time that candidates are legally allowed to start mailing you campaign literature. Campaign mailers are one of the biggest political expenditures by campaigns and political groups, and reducing the amount of time they are allowed to circulate is something I'm sure we all would welcome.
- Greater transparency in political expenditures from political organizations and SuperPACs, so that we can follow the money that is spent in our elections. I am in favor of passing a constitutional amendment overturning the disastrous Citizen's United ruling that has allowed unlimited amounts of secretive money to pour into elections for almost a decade, which in turn has diminished our influence over our legislators
*The legislature's current rules only requires that meetings are made open to the public if enough legislators are assembled to call a vote on the policy being discussed, and if the legislators intend to take action on the policy.