for PDF format
of Meeting with Alice Hausman
Civic Caucus, 8301
Creekside Circle, Bloomington, MN 55437
Thursday, December 6,
(all by phone):
Johnson, chair; Chuck Clay, Paul Gilje, Jim Hetland, and Wayne Popham
speaker: State Representative Alice Hausman
Welcome and introduction--
Verne and Paul
introduced State Representative Alice Hausman, St. Paul, chair of Capital
Investment, Finance Committee. Hausman, first elected in 1989, is serving
her 10th term. She has bachelor's and master's degrees in education.
She has received several awards from arts and environmental
Comments and discussion--
Hausman's comments and in discussion with the Civic Caucus the following
points were raised:
Emphasis on issues, not personalities--
Hausman said she appreciates the Civic Caucus emphasis on issues. She is
a DFLer but believes we all have an obligation to work across the aisle.
She gave as examples her relationship with the St. Paul Area Chamber of
Commerce on the central Corridor and with Norm Coleman when he was mayor
of St.. Paul.
Hausman recalled when Republican Phil Krinke was chair of the
House Capital Investment Committee and she was the ranking minority
member. The Democrats on the committee believed their role was to help
put together the best bill possible, rather than to put up roadblocks or
engage in partisan rancor, particularly over matters that were hot buttons
for Rep. Krinke. The bill passed the House floor with resounding
A real learning experience in 2007--This
past year's passage of the bonding bill in the House, with Hausman as
chair of the Capital Investment Committee, was a real learning experience
for her. Though she believed the committee had worked in a bipartisan
manner, when the bill reached the floor all Republicans except the one
member who would be on the conference committee voted "no". Her
understanding was that the Governor met with members of the minority
party, urging the "no" vote. In the Senate the same request was made,
but there were a few more minority Senators who resisted the request to
vote no. For most, it became a partisan vote rather than a vote to
reflect what might have been important to their constituents in the bill.
Hausman then reflected on what she believes has become a
problem in terms of achieving good outcomes in the Legislature. What has
begun to occur with more frequency is that legislative movement stalls
while the three leaders--the Governor, the Senate majority leader and the
Speaker of the House--negotiate in private. When there is no agreement,
bills sit on the desk. She believes the Governor is intervening too
early in the process. Each House should do its work, meet in Conference
Committee when necessary and only then does the bill go to the Governor.
He can sign or veto. Such a process keeps faith with the people who
elected their Senators and Representatives. A change in attitudes is
needed, not a structural change, she said.
Yielding to three top leaders has occurred gradually over
time, Hausman said. For example, she said, a few sessions ago the House,
Senate and Governor reached agreement on a budgeting bill by allowing each
to settle one-third of the then-existing differences over the budget.
Hausman said she is determined that the members of the House
not yield decision-making in 2008.
3. Leadership by the 20-20
group?--A Civic Caucus member
recalled that a group of Republican and DFL legislators formed a group
that was supposed to produce a more issue-oriented, consensus-producing,
environment to the Legislature. Hausman said the 20-20 group is largely
invisible. Several of their members play very partisan roles on the
4. Special interest groups and
precinct caucuses--The group
moved on to discuss whether precinct caucuses are threatened by the
influence of special interest groups. Hausman said the question of what
to do about precinct caucuses isn't an issue she has looked at in
detail. Ultimately, Hausman said, grass roots response from an educated
electorate is the way one reduces the influence of special interests.
A member wondered why political parties discourage people from
running against endorsed candidates, when precinct caucuses, the beginning
step in the endorsement process, seem to be controlled more by special
interests than by the rank-and-file of the parties.
5. Changing the date of the
said election law is not one of her areas of emphasis. She said waiting
until September for the general election campaign seems late, but many
people like shorter campaigns.
6. Question of a full-time
Legislature--A Civic Caucus
member asked whether legislative partisanship would be lessened if members
served part-time. Hausman replied that her Capital Investment Committee
spends a great deal of time in the interim traveling around the state and
learning more about needs. That is an important function that takes
time, she said. Also, she doesn't like the idea of arbitrary cutoffs for
when Legislature can meet. Such requirements don't apply to county boards
or city councils, she said.
Structure for transportation planning and decision-making--Hausman
said the transportation decision-making structure is broken. She cited
transit planning as an example, with different jurisdictions for the metro
area, some suburbs, and the rural area. She said she'd get a copy for the
Civic Caucus of a paper by Aaron Isaacs on transit structure. She
expressed concern about placing all responsibility at the state level
because of other recent problems with the Department of Transportation.
She mentioned the difficulty of creating a single fund for transportation
because of constitutional restrictions.
Question of dedicating funds for the environment and the arts in the
constitution--Hausman said she
generally prefers that there not be dedicated funds but, in the case of
environment and the arts, the Legislature has not met the needs. Thus she
supports a proposed constitutional amendment. A member commented that it
seems odd that the Legislature also would consider turning over some of
its responsibility for appropriations by giving outdoors enthusiasts an
official role in recommending how the money would be spent.
9. Concern over legislative
endorsing the concept that the Legislature ought to draw its own district
boundaries, Hausman is cautious about changing the current system because
she doesn't know who would have the job if it weren't the Legislature.
She mentioned that a commission was set up to deal with legislative pay
raises, but that system isn't working. Though the commission has
recommended salary increases, the Legislature is still unwilling to enact
the suggested legislative raise.
10. Favorable towards Instant
Runoff Voting (IRV)--Hausman
is sympathetic with the IRV because it provides a way to assure that the
winner is actually elected by a majority of the votes.
Concern over where the state is going--Hausman
said she is concerned about the future of the state's economy. The state
used to be above average in job growth. Now we're adding about 12,000
jobs a year. Even if we were just average, we'd be adding about 30,000
jobs a year, she said.
behalf of the Civic Caucus, Verne and Paul thanked Hausman for meeting
with us today.
The Civic Caucus
is a non-partisan,
tax-exempt educational organization. Core participants
include persons of varying political persuasions, reflecting
years of leadership in politics and business.
A working group meets face-to-face to
provide leadership. They are Verne C. Johnson, chair; Lee
Canning, Charles Clay, Bill Frenzel,
Paul Gilje, Jim Hetland,
John Mooty, Jim Olson, Wayne Popham and John Rollwagen.