Minnesota’s least necessary legislators

Sen. Dan Hall, R-Burnsville, plays a victimized Christian in the Minnesota Senate. Privately, his work is a little... different.

Sen. Dan Hall, R-Burnsville, plays a victimized Christian in the Minnesota Senate. Privately, his work is a little... different. Glen Stubbe Star Stribune

If you didn’t hear the screeching-tire noise of last week’s car wreck over the din of everyday life, you’ll soon feel it.

Minnesota’s annual game of political chicken always plays out with a few obstacles in the middle: children and their teachers, elderly and their caregivers, the poor.

Gov. Mark Dayton warned Republicans which things would lead to his vetoing bills. They ignored him. He vetoed the bills.

At least Dayton’s true to his word. And leaving: The 71-year-old governor is retiring from office after this year, as are 14 members of the Minnesota House of Representatives.

A few will be missed. Others should follow their lead, or be kindly ushered out by voters. Here’s a list of lawmakers whose best “service” to their districts would come from rejoining it as civilians—or, in some cases, moving away.

Rep. Nolan West, R-Blaine: Remember the bespectacled young suburbanite with Facebook posts about hating “fagballs,” and calling Barack Obama’s 2008 election “LYNCHING TIME”? That’s Nolan West. He’s in the House now, writing bills that would, for example, make it easier for cops in wrongful death lawsuits to win attorneys’ fees from family members of the deceased. (Because they haven’t lost enough.) West’s defenders would say he is “maturing.” He should do that somewhere else. Like his parents’ house.

Rep. Diane Loeffler, DFL-Minneapolis: Maturity’s not the issue here. It may be the problem. There has long been a class of city DFLers who don’t get much done. Because their seats are safe, they don’t have to. Or they didn’t until 2016, when DFL Reps. Ilhan Omar and Fue Lee (both Minneapolis) unseated aging lawmakers. Loeffler, who just survived an endorsement fight, might be next. She avoids meetings, insiders say, gives meandering speeches, asks questions with obvious answers, and “can’t pass anything.” Aside from that, she’s fine. Northeast Minneapolis needs better.

Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazzepa: Known to ruin entire floor sessions with lengthy invectives and petty debates, the only thing worse than the character of Drazkowski’s speeches is their content. He hates taxes, regulations, buses, trains, cities, and liberals who live in them. This year he tried cutting funds from cities that fight deportation of undocumented immigrants. His town, Mazeppa, could use a few: It’s about 96 percent white, getting older, and shrinking. If Draz hates the Twin Cities so much, he could do us all a favor and steer clear of it.

Rep. Cindy Pugh, R-Chanhassen: This Tea Partier arrived at the Capitol in 2009 with a sign that read: “Wake up America... before it’s too late!” It’s not clear what she meant. Her chirps do communicate one thing: Cindy is afraid. Of Shariah law, of Hell, of gun control, of “‘same-sex’ activists,” of vaccines, of ranked-choice voting—and now of the electrical grid getting wiped out by an “electromagnetic pulse,” a world-ending favorite of Alex Jones. Pugh’s constituents are the ones who should be scared.

Sens. Bobby Joe Champion (Minneapolis) and John Hoffman (Champlin): Different DFL senators, very different districts, same problem: corruption. When liberals try spending on jobs, education, or health, Republicans cry “Fraud!” and “Cronyism!” Guys like these give them cause. Champion, an attorney, once tried strong-arming $375,000 through Minneapolis Public Schools to a nonprofit run by one of his clients. Hoffman once earmarked $800,000 for a tiny segment of nonprofits—including the one that employs him. Hey, liberals: Fight for the truly needy, not DFLers like these two.

Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria: Everyone knows lobbyists write bills and stick them in lawmakers’ pockets. The least the legislator could do is lie about this arrangement. Last year, Ingebrigtsen, chair of the Senate environment committee, authored a bill to eliminate the Environmental Quality Board, and let businesses draft their own environmental impact statements. In introducing the proposal, Ingebrigtsen said he would “defer to my testifier”—a lobbyist for the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce—explaining, “Members, you’ll get a better understanding of the bill from him.” If that’s true, and even Ingebrigtsen knows it, he should retreat to Alexandria and hang his mustache in shame.

Sen. Dan Hall (R-Burnsville): Hall’s auditioning for right-wing sainthood. A few years ago, he was “persecuted” for saying gay marriage would divide Americans “more than any single issue” since slavery. This year, Hall martyred himself on the altar of an amendment to put “In God We Trust” in public schools. Outside the Capitol, Hall is a “consultant” for his son’s law firm, which specializes in “business lawsuits,” “confidentiality agreements,” and “business owner estate planning.” If Hall likes the Bible so much, wait till he reads the part about the camel and the eye of a needle!

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