The legislative session is newly finished. Over the course of a contentious few months, TakeAction members and leaders were an integral part of defeating several right-wing attacks on health care and our state budget. We are now setting our sites squarely on November where a radical restructuring to our voting system will be on the ballot.
The GOP kicked off the 2012 session with several bills to put the state’s new “Health Benefits Exchange” directly into the hands of corporate insurance industry. GOP legislators moved these industry-driven bills behind closed doors and in the dead of night, skirting rules about public notice and public testimony. (At one point, Senate GOP Chair David Hann called a 9pm committee hearing on a Friday night with less than half-hour notice, and allowed only a right-wing think tank to testify on his bill.)
But TakeAction Minnesota members and leaders refused to hand our Exchange over to the insurance industry. We made clear that we cannot allow the fox to guard the hen house of our Health Benefits Exchange. Over 400 individuals joined a meeting with Commissioner Rothman on March 25, 2012 to call for a people-centered health Exchange instead that works to improve health for all Minnesotans. At the end, only one industry-driven proposal passed the Minnesota Legislature. TakeAction and our allies urged Governor Dayton to “Pitch the bill,” which was then quickly vetoed by Governor Dayton.
TakeAction Minnesota also played a key role in scuttling a series of dangerous, right-wing proposals to restrict the state’s ability to invest in education, health care, and other needed services. GOP leadership sought to place a “supermajority” amendment on the 2012 ballot, which would have required a 2/3 majority in the Minnesota Legislature to pass a revenue increase. TakeAction teamed up with other key organizational partners to reveal the damaging impact of the “supermajority” amendment, lobby against the proposal at the Capitol, and organize constituents to urge their legislators to oppose the measure. The opposition to the supermajority amendment grew throughout session, and its authors eventually failed to receive the support they needed to push this proposal onto the November ballot. In a final act of the session, Governor Dayton also vetoed a GOP tax bill that would have increased the state’s deficit by granting irresponsible tax breaks to Minnesota businesses.
One key ballot measure did pass the 2012 session – and TakeAction Minnesota now has our sights squarely on defeating “photo ID” in November. The “photo ID” ballot measure seeks to shift political power into the hands of the wealthiest 1% and corporate special interests by robbing thousands of Minnesotans of the right to vote if they lack a current photo ID. Photo ID would permanently restructure the Minnesota electorate and deprive thousands of seniors, young people, individuals with disabilities, and communities of color of their rights to vote. TakeAction Minnesota is playing a leadership role in the Our Vote Our Future campaign, which is organizing statewide to defeat photo ID in the Fall. TakeAction joins many other organizations in urging NO votes on both photo ID and the marriage amendment in November 2012.
Liz Doyle is TakeAction Minnesota’s Associate Director.