ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The Republican takeover of the Minnesota Legislature in 2010 has consequences for the 2012 ballot, as eager conservatives look to bypass Gov. Mark Dayton’s veto pen and bring some of their policy goals directly to voters.

In last year’s legislative session, Republicans set a statewide vote for later this year on whether to ban same-sex marriage in the state’s Constitution. But it’s likely not to be the only question on the November ballot.

Members of the Republican majority are weighing several more right-leaning constitutional amendments, meaning citizens may get to weigh on whether voting in Minnesota should require a photo ID; whether it should require a three-fifths or two-thirds “supermajority” of state lawmakers to approve a tax increase; whether to make membership in labor unions voluntary; and maybe others.

“We have these conservative majorities in the House and Senate at the same time, and that has not existed for 39 years,” said Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, who’s pushing both the supermajority and the so-called “right to work” amendments. “So these are proposals where there hasn’t been an opportunity to place them in front of Minnesotans for a very long time.”

The Republican rush to the ballot has drawn the ire of Dayton and legislative Democrats. Dayton can’t block lawmakers from putting proposed amendments on the ballot, and he’s been scathing as he considers the prospect of a November ballot packed with conservative aims.

“My concern about constitutional amendments except in very, very rare circumstances is that the design of our government is to have the legislative branch work in consultation and cooperation with the executive branch. There has to be a collaboration there, an agreement,” Dayton said.

He predicted that amendments linked to GOP policy goals would inspire “multimillion-dollar advertising campaigns that mischaracterize it on both sides and are socially divisive.”

Rep. Ryan Winkler, DFL-St. Louis Park, says if Republicans succeed, they could see future Democratic legislative majorities responding with their own amendments tied to liberal goals.

“I don’t think it would be very tough to get a majority of Minnesota voters to support an amendment that imposes a higher income tax rate on wealthy earners in the Constitution forever,” Winkler said. “That’s the precedent Republicans set if they don’t exercise some restraint, that the Constitution itself becomes just another venue for partisan politics.”

House Speaker Kurt Zellers expressed his own worry about “legislating through the Constitution.” But Zellers supports the supermajority amendment, and said he can’t stop any amendment from going forward if its supporters have the votes.

Zellers and Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem have called the voting photo ID requirement a near certainty. Republicans passed a bill last year to add the requirement to state law, but Dayton vetoed it. Some people speculated that sponsors would work with Dayton this year to approve it through the legislative process, but chief House sponsor Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer said last week she is more inclined to simply send it to the ballot.

“Do we want to go through that process again, given we know where it’s probably going to end up?” said Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake.

The supermajority and the right-to-work amendments appear less definite, but both have strong backers in the House and Senate. At the same time, even supporters know that setting statewide votes on divisive political issues will stir activism from political opponents.

“Obviously, the long knives are going to come out,” said Sen. Dave Thompson, R-Lakeville. Thompson acknowledged his push to get the union membership amendment on the ballot would probably motivate state unions to pour even more resources than usual into fundraising and get-out-the-vote efforts.

The supermajority proposal on taxes is opposed by local government officials. They hope to convince Republican legislators that it would put a greater pinch than ever on state finances and local property taxpayers.

Alan Oberloh, mayor of Worthington and president of the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities, said it’s particularly unfair that a simple majority of lawmakers could put the question on the ballot, and a simple majority of voters could approve a requirement that tax increases would require more than a majority to pass.

“It would make bad problems worse,” Oberloh said.

With the definition-of-marriage amendment already on the ballot, Republican legislative leaders have declined to predict which of the other issues are likely to join it — though the photo ID for voting amendment looks close to certain. Putting three or four amendments before voters in November would be the most in a while. There were three amendments on the 1998 ballot; the last time a Minnesota ballot saw four amendments was 1982. In both cases, all the amendments passed.

Throughout the state’s history, constitutional amendments have been more likely to pass than not. Of the 211 amendments since 1858, voters approved 119 and defeated 92.

Despite the 1998 and 1982 examples, there have been cases where multiple amendments on one ballot all went down. The 1914 ballot saw nine amendments that all failed; in 1952, voters defeated five amendments.

Kiffmeyer, a former Minnesota secretary of state, said she’s not worried that a handful of constitutional amendments would hurt their individual chances to pass.

“I think voters overall take their job more seriously than we give them credit for,” Kiffmeyer said.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (48)
  1. mark says:

    Start with lowering the taxes, welfare cuts to men that can work, illegal immigration (get them out)

    1. Incredulous1 says:

      Why omit welfare cuts to women and children who can work? Equality please!

      1. I Wondered What Dayton Was Doing says:

        “Dayton can’t block lawmakers . . . , and he’s been scathing “

  2. Brett says:

    Yes, VOTER ID TOO.

    1. Phid says:

      No kidding. It boggles the mind that politicians would try to argue (with straight faces) that people need to show an ID to buy cold medicine at Walmart, but don’t need to show it to vote for those who run the most powerful country in the world. Amazing. Simply amazing.

      1. Ron Paul 2012 says:

        One is a national RIGHT. The other is a government tracking method to ensure your not buying in excess to produce….meth.

        1. Brett says:

          Absolute RUBBISH. Some don’t have that “RIGHT”. If you aren’t a citizen, you don’t have that right. If you are a convicted FELON, you don’t have that right. If you vote more than once, you don’t have that right. In other words, if you vote illegally, you are violating the law, and there’s probably a good reason for that. That’s why the Ron Paul loons are LOSING.

          1. Ron Paul 2012 says:

            Yeah Brett. Keep diluting yourself down that dysfunctional road …right to Canada preferrably.

  3. angus says:

    And the right speaks, again withut knowledge.

    The taxes should be raised on the super rich. When a person earning $600,000 per year says he can not afford a tax increase I am unable to understand how he was smart enough to earn that income in the first place. The rich have the income and the tax loopholes to protect themselves. They pay approximately 8% on net income, the middle class and the poor 11%. This information was published during Timmy the Twerps administration. Fair??

    People want to work. Unfortunately the conservatives only worry about social issues and not economic issues. Why should they? Everything is fine in their nice little white boy world (very few rich minorities).

    1. mark says:

      @angus I love people like you, you want the people who work hard for the ones who don’t (you) You want what people have worked 16 hours a day to get and well how can I put this, hmm entitlement

    2. Phid says:

      First, I don’t know where you got that figure about the rich paying “8% on net income” (I would like to see your source for that). Second, if you really believe that figure, why in the world are your proposing that we should raise taxes on the super rich? If they are already avoiding most taxes when getting taxed close to 40%, what good would it do to tax them at 50%?

    3. Brett says:

      And the LEFT responds in the most ILLOGICAL, MINDLESS WAY POSSIBLE. Voter ID is ONE issue, taxes are another. The poor have TONS of loopholes that you won’t even consider discussing. You are either part of the problem, which I think is highly probable, or part of the solution (which I think you you have little hope).

  4. Incredulous1 says:

    Oh, and more ‘sanctity of marriage’ BS – anything to make the Repubs even more hypocritical PLEASE!

    1. Tom says:

      @ Incredulous1

      And on of the big cheerleaders of marriage amend gets caught cheating on her hubby. Thank goodness conservatives preach about “values”

    2. Phid says:

      Name a politician from either party and we can probably dig up some dirt on them. So what? Remember when they found that the typical home value where arrested OWS protesters lived in was over $300k? Did that make you oppose the OWS crowd?

      1. Frankie says:

        OK Greiling. and Sengern Don’t post anymore because you cannot prove your points.

    3. Brett says:

      And Incredulous1 is the most holy, the most wise, the most pure, the most understanding, the least greedy, the least selfish person on the PLANET!! We need to nominate this “person” for the Nobel Prize, pronto!!

  5. mn123456 says:

    If you look all over the internet analysts without personal interests are saying we are headed into a recession before the end of 2012.

    The minute a company says they are hiring the crowd goes wild. I have heard of many, many more companies closing their doors or branches just since the first of the year. Just two of them everyone will recognize are K-Mart and Bloomingdales. Really, how good could sales have been if these two giants are closing stores?

    Best Buy had better be making profits and if they are not making record profits we are in big trouble since in the last five years they have lost almost all of their competition (CompUSA, Ultimate Electronics, Circuit City).

    Minnesota is already taxing people to the point that people that cannot afford to put their own food on the table WITH JOBS are paying INTO the state.

    Minnesota makes huge bad decisions and always has. It is not rocket science to figure out to make money for our state we should put the stadium in Shakopee so that visitors have a destination with options and BETTER parking. Think about it, the race car track, the horse track, Valley Fair, the casino… Put in the stadium there and people will build more hotels and it will lure people to a spot in Minnesota. Right now everything we have is so spread out that nobody comes here for entertainment or attractions. People might actually spend their two week vacation here if we had a “hotspot” and our government spent a little money on advertising it.

    Oh, and as far as moral issues about building a casino here, what a crock, we have two in the twin cities area and many others throughout the state already, I think that discussion of it being a”moral issue” is moot at this point. It just makes those against it look dumb…

    Maybe Minnesota government officials need to start thinking of it’s people instead and how they “nickel and dime” them until they have nothing, instead of their own special interests.

    By the way if you look it up on the internet it will tell you with graphs and details which parties have spent the most while in office along with other numbers since 1980’s. Not that I care much for any of the parties, but I sure wouldn’t ever vote a republican again finding what I did… And just for the record you will find that Clinton spent the least with Obama to current having spent only 5% more and after that Carter only 1% more. Seems to me they keep cutting those that pay in and pay in and spending more money than the Dems. And don’t forget the 7.7 trillion that went out the door to bail out the rich that no one knew about until last year under our last presidents watch.

    All I have to say is, “Yippy”, we are a state controlled by people with their own interests in mind… again”. Of course that is sarcasm.

    1. Frankie says:

      You were making a little sense until you stated stadium. If you were such a savvy dude with your internet research you would have researched and found a football stadium is a waste of money. Funny that lady did not post her 100 links for you

  6. Tom says:

    We know why the GOP wants Voter ID as they are claiming something that does not exist is which voter fraud!

    Why elect these people to office if they are going to ask the voters for their opinions on certain issues that is why we elect these people is to make these decisions.

    1. Ace says:

      I had to show a photo ID at my clinic so what’s the problem with photo id for voters. One argument is that it would hurt the elderly. Well, I’m 81 and have absolutely no problem with photo ID for voting or anything else

      1. Ron Paul 2012 says:

        to prevent medicare fraud

        1. Brett says:

          So what’s so wrong with preventing VOTER FRAUD?

          1. Ron Paul 2012 says:

            Keep tinkering with your toyful thoughts. I’m here for ya. i’m not going to explain the simplicity of that one though. Too moronic on your part. Read twice, post once.

    2. Whitey Fjord says:

      I needed to show ID to buy bourbon last night. And bourdon doesn’t determine the future of my country.

      1. Ron Paul 2012 says:

        to prove you’re of legal drinking age in this state.

    3. Phiid says:

      It is amazing that people try to make arguments against voter IDs. It seems like such an obvious, common sense, and easy thing to do in the most important elections in the world. Why someone would oppose such a measure, aside from pure politics, is hard to imagine.

      1. Ron Paul 2012 says:

        Studies show that approximately 11 percent of Americans – about
        21 million people – lack a current government photo ID, disproportionately racial minorities,
        senior citizens, young voters, the working poor and people with disabilities – including:
        • 25 percent of African American voting age citizens – more than 5.5. million people
        • 15 percent of those earning less than $35,000 a year
        • 18 percent of those age 65 and above – more than 6 million voters
        • 20 percent of young voters 18-29

        And what a surprise! They are mostly Democrats in these Demographics. But that’s just a coincidence. Isn’t it Republicans.?

        1. Brett says:

          I had a state issued PHOTO ID when I was 16 or 17 years old. Didn’t make more than $5000 a year at that time. Didn’t take much EFFORT either. Didn’t have to take a drug or IQ test. Didn’t even have to show a birth certificate. The majority of those who have no PHOTO ID are simply LAZY rebels who don’t care about election integrity.

          1. Ron Paul 2012 says:

            Seriously? Change that. Think twice. Post once.

  7. Jason says:

    You need an Id for just about everything. What wrong with one Id on vote?

  8. Jason says:

    I would be happy if we put major issues to a ballot. Seems lately that our elected officials tend to vote against the will of thier constituients. Common sense to me with voter id.

    1. Richard in Minneapolis says:

      The problem with voter ID is that it is a solution in search of a problem. No-one has shown that voter fraud is a problem. Why spend money and effort trying to fix was isn’t broken when we have real problems to solve.

      It is like the magician who creates a diversion sidestage to divert attention from what he is doing centerstage. If the politicians can get us focussed on voter ID maybe we’ll miss all the real issues they are ignoring out of expediency.

      1. Jason says:

        @ richard, right now in I believe in NY they are having issues with voter fraud. Closer to home havent we had ballots riding around in cars. Also would eleminate felons from voting. That has happend here in MN. Voting integrity is a foundation block to our Country.

      2. Tom says:

        @ Richard

        We have had the same voting system for years, but now all of sudden oeople are yelling “voter fraud” mainly coming from conservatives. But they show no proof that such a problem exists.

        1. hunnybear18 says:

          If you took away the ability of the cops to pull over suspected drunk drivers and use breathalyzers, one could argue there are no drunk drivers. How can you say there is no fraud when there is no way to even identify those voting illegally. I think anyone who opposes voter id knows full well there is fraud, usually based on “vouching”, and wants that door to stay open. How can you catch them when you have to take their word for it.? (ie, no officer, I haven’t been drinking. Oh well, I have no way to check that, so you’re free to go.) Why else would you have a problem with having to prove your eligibility?

          1. huh? says:

            So, by that line of thinking…If I fart in the fields but no one is around to smell or hear it…I didn’t fart? Try again honeypot.

            1. hunnybear18 says:

              Fart all you want honeypot. It’s still legal and doesn’t require ID, as felons, illegals or anyone can do it. You can even do it more than once in more than one precinct if you wish. 🙂

  9. G Dog says:

    Then after that, we should make Jews wear gold stars on their coats…….

    And make black people pay a poll tax and take a literacy test…..

    And keep women out of the voting booths…..

    And you have to be a white, male landowner to vote……

    Conservatives love the “good old days”….

    1. Ron Paul 2012 says:

      Thanks for that post G Dog. I’m thinking that if this were to be put to a vote, unknowing/uneducated individuals would vote for it with a yippy skippy in their step. Not understanding that they just gave up some more of that American LIBERTY they so feel entitled to.

    2. Dan says:

      Funny…I seem to remember that it was the southern “Dixie’crats, SOUTHERN
      DEMOCRATS that were all voting against the Equal Rights Amendments
      in the Sixties.
      You know their names…Bill Byrd, Al Gore Sr., etc.
      Its sure funny how history has been, and is still being re-written over the years….

      1. Frankie says:

        Is that like the local GOP disavowing any knowledge of the progressive leaders through the years like Arne Carlson, Harold Stassen. Also of their stars like Jon Grundseth?

  10. Drop Kick says:

    Hey GOPee, How about a vote on that Viking Stadium, that nobody wants.

  11. Gay Obsessed Party says:

    A friend made a prediction last year that our blessed Republicans would be adding numerous amendments to the Constitution. And it looks like he was correct.

    He also said it’s because they know that come November their majority party will get shellacked, any they are well aware of it.

    But hey, social issues are they only thing God’s Own Party can create because they sure haven’t created jobs. And the Republican God will smile on MN for those Gays will be history, and that’s what counts.

    1. Not Gay says:

      Gays will be history? Really! Gays have been around since the beginning of time,
      and you will never be able to wish them away. Tell the GOP to quit wasting their time, and our money.

      1. jackactionhero says:

        I think you may have missed his sarcasm, eh?

        1. desert eagle .50 says:

          You really need to, eh, be more specific.

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