Minnesota needs a budget in place before the new fiscal year starts July 1.
Otherwise, we run out of money. That means Gov. Mark Dayton needs budget bills, ones he'll actually sign.
The Legislature's up against an even tighter deadline. They're constitutionally mandated to be done with work and get the hell out of the Capitol 12 days from now.
Time's tight. And yet, here we are, fighting the culture wars instead, as conservatives throw anti-abortion bills on Dayton's desk.
He rejected both. Late Wednesday afternoon, Dayton issued two vetoes of bills he'd never liked. The first sought to limit the use of state funding for women on government aid programs to have abortions. Dayton noted that public funding is already limited to cases of rape, incest, or for "health or therapeutic reasons." And besides, he said, the right to "health and safety" should be guaranteed to "every woman, regardless of the type of insurance she has."
He added that the bill, backed by Republicans and a handful of socially conservative Democrats, "discriminates against women because of their socioeconomic status."
The second bill was intended to crack down on facilities that provide abortions (namely: Planned Parenthood) by imposing a list of new fees, regulations, and licensing procedures, which in other states have been used to close abortion clinics with previously clean regulatory records.
Dayton says the licensing requirements of that bill are "overly broad and unnecessary," and points out that the legislation grants regulatory roles to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) which the department itself has not asked for.
"Furthermore, the licensure application process outlined in the bill requires MDH to collect information about clinic workers, but fails to protect the privacy of those workers. This requirement appears to target health professionals who provide abortion services. Health care research, findings, and conclusions are best left to experts, who are trained to make medical, not political, decisions, and who are in the best position to protect a woman's health. Our place is not between a woman and her doctor."
The vetoes were expected, but still welcomed, by Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota president Sarah Stoesz, who noted that the governor had promised "months ago" to reject these bills.
"Nevertheless, Minnesota legislators spent precious taxpayer resources and time in pursuit of bills that they knew had no chance of becoming law."
Gee. They knew this would happen, they'd waste time and money, and get nothing for it but political gain from conservative voters and donors. What would you call that, govenor?
Anyway, moving on. Does everyone feel better now? No? Well, good. Can we have a budget now?