By Pat Kessler, WCCO-TV

ST. PAUL (WCCO) — Anti-health care protesters pushed their way into Gov. Mark Dayton’s Minnesota State Capitol Office on Wednesday, as the new Democratic governor prepared to sign an executive order expanding Medicaid.

And for a while, it looked like Dayton’s first official press conference was going to take an ugly turn. But instead of forcing the protesters out, he invited them in.

Scores of anti-health care protesters mixed with Medicaid supporters in the ornate corner office, arguing back and forth.

“You Democrats!” shouted one anti-health care protester. “Karl Marx! Gimme, gimme, gimme!”

“Hey!” a Dayton supporter responded. “Respect the governor!”

Security officers removed the largest signs from some raucous demonstrators, some reading “Which Part of NObamacare Don’t You Understand?” and “Where Is It In The Constitution?”

But instead of ejecting the rowdy crowd, Dayton invited protesters to the podium to speak and several took him up on it.

“If you can show me anywhere in the Constitution where it says that Congress has the authority to legislate health care, you let me know,” said retired veteran Leon Moe of Cottage Grove.

Others, like Jay McMillan of Annandale, said churches, not government, should provide health care for the poor.

“Where is the church to help these people?” McMillan asked. “Because that’s the church’s job and duty is social causes. I don’t find in the Constitution where the government’s job is to do that.”

The executive order Dayton signed expands federal Medicaid coverage to 12,000 uninsured vulnerable adults and 83,000 other poor Minnesotans who don’t have insurance or have substandard care.

To be eligible for Medicaid, a person must live in poverty, earning about $8,000 a year or less.

One supporter said it would have saved her brother’s life.

“There will not be another sister who is forced to watch her brother desperately wait days, then weeks, then months,” said Sarah Anderson of St. Paul, whose brother died from cancer last year.

Dayton’s decision to allow protesters in his office may be a sign of an unconventional governor.

He said he did it because his office is “the people’s room.”

“This is where democracy occurs,” said Dayton, who was sworn into office Monday. “This is a public room. This belongs to the people of Minnesota.”

WCCO-TV’s Pat Kessler Reports

Pat Kessler

Comments (22)
  1. Jackie DuCharme says:

    Would it be better to take 10% of everyone’s wages to help pay for health coverage?

    1. tom says:

      not my money i pay for my own, like everyone else should

      1. Jack says:

        Everyone else should pay for their own? What if you lost your job or had a health crisis? Would you want there to be a safety net for you? Or would you want people to judge you and assume you’re lazy or just want government assistance? Believe me, most people who are in poverty WANT to work. It’s not fair to assume that just because you could do it, they should be able to too. There are barriers and other factors that make it more difficult. Ever heard of generational poverty? It’s not right to blame or judge people based on their economic situation. Plus, there are many people who work and are still in poverty.

  2. Eric says:

    Did he really open up his office in the name of democracy? He didn’t let anyone vote on the issue. He just let them in so he could sign the Executive Order in front of them and there was nothing they could do about it.

    1. Kate says:

      what people don’t seem to understand is the reason the executive order is there in the first place is because democrats AND republicans agreed on that last session. pawlenty refused the money and did not want to expand medical assistance, but he and other republicans voted and agreed that the next governor would have the option to do so, via executive order. please, please research an issue before deciding that something is “unconstitutional” or was done without asking anyone first. and by the way, we all pay when people don’t have health care. we pay for the visits to the emergency room. this is a much better way to insure that people are covered and not dying in our streets. it is our responsibility to take care of one another.

    2. Ignorance must be bliss says:

      Hence why we live in a Republic as stated in our pledge of allegiance… “and to the Republic for which it stands”. If we lived in a Democracy we would vote on all laws, since we live in a Republic we vote people into office to vote on the issues for us. By the way, it would be sad if we did live in a Democracy with the % of people who turn out for ANY vote. This is grade school information and should not have to be told to you unless you never went.

    3. Anita Newhouse says:

      DId you flunk civics in high school??????

  3. Jackie DuCharme says:

    Good point Eric. I didn’t think of that.

  4. john says:

    anything to look good and he signed it anyway typical democrat!

    1. Laura says:

      This has nothing to do with looking good or being a democrat. This will allow the poorest of our people to have GOOD health care. It’s so important to be able to go to the doctor when you’re sick. it’s a privilege many of us take for granted.

  5. Bob says:

    Thse people are the minority but are making their voices heard. Its time that the mjajority starts speaking out. Enough of this Nazi tactics.

  6. Wes says:

    First, kudos for Dayton opening up like that. No problem there.

    But who came up with the term “anti-health care protesters”? Really? They are against health care altogether?

    Clearly bias in this “news” report.

  7. CommonSense says:

    “There will not be another sister who is forced to watch her brother desperately wait days, then weeks, then months, said Sarah Anderson of St. Paul, whose brother died from cancer last year.”

    I don’t understand a society that would turn its back on people that are the most needy.

    1. Renee says:

      ” I don’t understand a society that would turn its back on people that are the most needy.”

      The measure of a civilized society is in how it treats women, the sick, and the elderly.

      Dayton’s Minnesota roots are solid. We are a civilized Christian society in Minnesota. We don’t turn our backs on those in need.

      Thank you, Mr. Dayton.

  8. Michele says:

    I was there this morning and observed no pushing or arguing. I’m surprised to read that the crowd was “rowdy” and “raucous.” The people did not push their way in – they were invited in long before Dayton arrived.

  9. Victim Du Jour says:

    The media should allow the general public to voice their opinions. It’s alway politicians and media people speaking for everyone.

    And not just cherry pick people with a specific opinion.

  10. Cache says:

    Mr. Crazy has shown his hand…he does not care what the people or our representatives think he is going to rule by fiat. Look into the eyes of mr Crazy…lights are on but nobody is home.

  11. Strengthen Your Hearts says:

    Our children, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, grandmother, grandfather, cousins are dying cause they need medical assistance. Why wouldn’t we help them?

    We just need to keep everyone healthy and create jobs. Simple as that. Personally I am offended that our jobs have gone over seas and we import crap from other countries. I know Americans can do better than that. Stop buy their crap and start supporting locally grown and made necessities. From now on I will buy my things locally from you!

  12. lib says:

    I don’t believe Sara about watching her brother die without medical care, no way did that happen in this state.
    Every legal or illegal person in this state in on Medicaid where absolutely EVERYTHING is paid for. If Sara’s story is true it is because her brother made too much money to qualify for these programs. Do we need a program now to bury him as well? I am sorry if some think me unfeeling, but we simply cannot afford to pay for everyone’s health care.

  13. Helper says:

    Republicans are such a sad, sorry group of people… Don’t they know how idiotic they appear? Bet that high school education has got them far in life…

  14. oracle_guy_2 says:

    We have finally joined every other state (except that forward-looking Alaska) in providing medical care to the poorest of the poor. Shame on Pawlenty for booting this matter down the road.