Tuesday, April 30, 2013

For the DFL, math is hard. (UPDATE: Sen. Rest *did* vote the first time around)

In the Minnesota State Senate, the DFL currently has a 39-28 majority. Since there are 67 total members in the upper chamber, there must be a minimum 34 members willing to vote "Yes" on any piece of legislation to give 100% assurance that any bill would pass.

Simple mathematics.

As the tax bill has been debated over the some time now, there was finally a version available to vote upon Monday evening. Now, since the Democrats control every facet of state government, it stands to reason that any bill authored will likely be something most amenable to the DFL since they obviously control all committees. With that in mind, it would seem to me that Senate Majority Leader Tom "Baby Got" Bakk would take a count of his caucus to ensure they have at least 34 votes for passage since they can't rely on the GOP being complicit in increasing taxes to the tune of nearly $3 billion. Heck, all Bakk had to do is take a quick survey of those DFLers who were considering voting "No" or perhaps abstaining. If that number is greater than five, then some maneuvering needs to be done. To my knowledge, Bakk never did such a thing.

So what happened when the vote was taken Monday evening? The bill failed 34-32, as seven DFLers joined 27 of 28 Republican members (Rochester GOP Senator David Senjem voted "Yes") in voting "No."

Ah, but remember, the DFL is in the majority. Therefore they went ahead and took a vote to "reconsider." That passed, which meant the Senate would take a re-vote on the bill. The second vote on the tax bill passed 35-31, with Freshman DFL Senators Greg Clausen (Apple Valley) and John Hoffman (Champlin) switching their initial "no" votes. Ann Rest (D-New Hope) initially abstained but then voted "yes" when given a second opportunity.

So after the DFL looked like a bunch of buffoons after such a display, who is to blame? Why the Republicans, of course (emphasis mine).

DFL Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk says several DFL members were confused when a few Republicans signaled they would support the bill but eventually switched to a no vote.

"There were people that voted no because they thought there were plenty of votes up to pass it," Bakk said. "I think people didn't realize that people were going to play a little trick when the roll was closed and switch their vote back. I think there would have easily been the same number of votes had the Republicans had been honest and put up their red vote when the roll was called."

Say, Senator Bakk? Do you even bother to ask yourself the question why some DFLers voted "no?" Could it be because those Senators thought the tax bill was a monstrosity which, if passed, would have an adverse impact on their middle-income constituents, thus affecting reelection prospects in 2016? Don't complain about the GOP playing political games. It cuts both ways here.

Oh, but the fun is just beginning. You see the House has a substantially different tax bill to vote on. If that passes, the two bills will then go to conference committee where those significant differences will need to be reconciled. No way Governor Mark Dayton will allow another shutdown on his watch, especially now that the DFL is in control of the Legislature. Therefore, Little Lord Fauntleroy Dayton will act as the veritable "adult in the room" to ensure a tax bill is completed.

Getcha popcorn.

UPDATE: The reason that DFLers asked for a re-vote was due to the fact Senator Rest allegedly did not have the opportunity to vote the first time around.

Watch the video below. You'll notice that Sen. Rest did indeed vote "Yes" initially. However, she took her vote off the board once it became apparent that the tax bill would be voted down.

When the Nay total reached 32, Sen. Rest undid her vote. Since conservative Republicans Dan Hall and Dave Thompson had yet to cast votes at that point, it was assumed both would vote "No." That would bring the Nay total to 34, resulting in the bill failing to pass. The guess here is that Sen. Rest didn't want to be aboard a sinking ship, so she bailed.

A profile in courage, eh?


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