Are Rep. Jim Newberger's ideas bad enough for the United States Senate?

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Can Rep. Jim Newberger, R-Becker, beat DFL U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar? Not a chance! But he'll say some weird things when he tries. MN House of Representatives/Star Tribune file

DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar consistently tests as one of the most—and one of the only—popular U.S. senators. In two elections, she has not won by less than 20 percent. Running against her is a fool’s errand.

Enter that fool, Jim Newberger, a state rep from the small town of Becker who’s volunteering himself as the first Republican lamb for Klobuchar’s inevitable slaughter.

As a legislator, Newberger has dug a graveyard-full of verbal gaffes, like when he joked about setting up a “rail line going from the prison to north Minneapolis.” The dog whistle was so loud hounds wept for weeks.

Newberg’s written record is even more embarrassing. His fact-free reality, and his coziness with corporations and conspiracies, simply does not belong in the Senate. It belongs in the White House.

Behold a selection of the dumbest, weirdest bills Newberger has introduced during four years in the Minnesota House:

The Xcel-erated Profits Act

The biggest handout to a fossil fuel-loving monopoly in Minnesota history is also the biggest accomplishment of Jim Newberger’s young career.

Newberger fiercely defended the coal-burning Xcel plant in Becker; he loved every ounce of its 20 million tons of annual carbon emissions. When those were set to go offline, Newberger begged for a replacement natural gas plant to be built in Becker. He succeeded. So did Xcel.

Newberger’s bill lets Xcel build that plant “at its sole discretion,” meaning it could proceed without government oversight. The monopoly’s $1 billion plant project will be paid for by its one-plus million ratepayers. Expect Xcel to thank Newberger by funding his campaign.

The Conspiracists’ Freedom Act

This bill was meant to prevent Minnesota from “implementing policies set by United Nations Agenda 21.” What’s Agenda 21? Ask your easily frightened uncle.

This non-binding resolution calls on countries to take steps toward alleviating poverty and asks them to protect important stuff, like oceans. Or, as radio host Alex Jones explained it, it’s a “eugenics death cult” that will “take over the world.” The 25-minute jag Jones needs to connect the scattered, invisible-to-the-sheeple’s-eye dots is torturous, and seems to have hypnotized poor Jim Newberger.

The Not-Entirely-United States Act

Newberger intends to save the people of Becker not only from the United Nations, but also the United States. This bill was essentially a Declaration of Independence on behalf of the people of Minnesota against “unlimited submission to their federal government.” Had this passed, we’d be one good flag and a few uniforms from seceding.

Newberger called for the creation of a “task force” to set about “nullifying specific acts and regulations which are outside the scope of [its] powers.” Gee, Jim, what should we name this task force? The Supreme Court?

The un-REAL ID Act

Remember when Minnesota’s fliers were almost grounded because our state was unable to approve “REAL ID” driver’s licenses? Newberger’s solution was elegantly backward: Instead of becoming one of the last states in the country to pass REAL ID, wouldn’t it be easier to just insist that Congress and the President repeal the 12-year-old law? And that other states just stop what they’re doing because we said so?

The proposal was dead on arrival, but was so unworkable it would probably pass in the Senate.

The Second in the Constitution,
First in Our Hearts Act

In 2014, Newberger bought into the right-wing panic that Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi would personally go door-to-door and take everyone’s guns. Newberger wanted Minnesota to resist any federal laws restricting “firearms, firearm accessories, and ammunition.” (“Accessories”? Was Jim afraid they would ban those cool shoulder holsters the FBI guys use in the movies?)

Under the law, any state employee, county sheriff, or city cop who made the mistake of enforcing a federal gun law would be fired, with his or her position instantly “deemed vacant.” Just like the logic in this bill.

The Let Them Drink Bank Accounts Act

The Department of Natural Resources commissioner is charged with being a steward of the state’s water supply. A lot of it’s polluted, some of it is disappearing. (And in some places, both!)

Newberger sought to force the DNR to calculate the “economic impact” of any attempt at water protection or preservation, thus putting financial interests above... thirst.

The One Pill Makes You a Sinner Act

This bill came about during the right-to-life crowd’s brief craze over RU-486, which they (and no one else) called the “abortion pill.” Newberger wanted to mandate that women could only take the pill while “in the same room” as the doctor who prescribed it. Any doctor who let a woman leave the room to take the pill would face criminal penalties and/or be sued by the woman’s husband or parents. The bill was backed by the creeps-into-watching-women-eat lobby, and no one else.

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