1. On a scale of (0) most disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) most
agreement, what is your view on whether elected officials in Minnesota
should concentrate more on strategies specifically designed to support
job creation in the private sector rather than on cutting or raising
2. On a scale of (0) most disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) most
agreement, what is your view on whether--because of strong
opposition--it is futile to spend time trying to reform the precinct
caucus system in Minnesota?
_____ 3. On a
scale of (0) most disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) most
agreement, what is your view on whether the length of Minnesota
legislative sessions should be shortened?
Jennings (7) (3) (3)
Slocum (10) (5) (10)
Question 1: Tax
policy is a part of any such job creation strategy, however.
Nothing is entirely futile and since the system is the building block
of the political process—Combined with the Primary and General
Election campaigns—you have to pay attention to it.
Question 3: This
is possible but a $32B two year budget does take some time to oversee,
Donald H. Anderson (8) (10) (5)
Sen. Senjem seems
to have a different focus on what is needed in Minnesota at this time
- less partisanship, more working together.
Schmitz (8) (8) (10)
Question 1: The focus on taxes as the enemy of jobs is distracting,
value for taxes has always been significant in MN, but we have lost
that leg of the stool. Your question could be interpreted as the
current trend, as with the IBM facility that Dave mentioned, of
incentives to move or attract businesses, and that somehow has to be
ended. The current move a business from the suburbs to
downtown St. Paul is a good example of strange priorities.
Question 2: This is an institution, what real harm is there in it
continuing, the party's still control the ultimate decisions.
Question 3: Shortening is not the total answer, eliminating the
global bills, returning to single issue legislation, and holding
hearings throughout the year would make much more sense. Today the
time commitment during the session is
impossible for either the representatives or persons interested in
Carolyn Ring (8) (5)(10)
Question 1: Jobs,
jobs, jobs create more taxes.
Getting people to participate in caucuses has been a problem as long
as I have been in politics. If, a good cross section attends, the
caucus system can be effective and back in the 60's and early 70's it
did work quite well. Currently, the numbers attending are not great,
but the extremes of both major parties are attending and making the
decisions. I remember being in Hubbard County in 1985 trying to
recruit good candidates. One of the former party leaders said to me,
"I don't go to caucuses nor does anybody else that isn't from that
"nut group." He said we used to have about 100 people there and now
there is about 15. I said, "Why don't you get 16 to go and outnumber
them?" Oh, he said" they're so nutty no one wants to be with them."
You can't fight the system if you are not willing to participate.
Question 3: To
get full time legislators to vote for it would be more than a little
difficult. For many current legislators it's the best or only job
they have ever had, and they are not about to give it up!
Senn (6) (1) (5)
Fraser (_) (_) (0)
Question 1: I'm
trying to recall a job creating entity that moved here from
somewhere else. Why would they? We used to say that that we had two
things going for us - our weather and our education. The weather isn't
always a plus, so we're left with education. The enterprises we have
in the past grew here. And that will continue if we invest in
So the tax argument doesn't make much sense to me. We need to be a
functioning state. Watching one of my sons develop two advanced
technology start-ups has been instructive. Taxes aren't remotely
relevant until he gets the companies going and they become profitable.
Question 2: Our
political parties need to do better - but "reform" of the precinct
caucuses is far too vague a term. What we need is to find ways to
encourage more thoughtful people to take an active role in our
life. That's a real need, but finding the ways to accomplish this
deserves far more thought than we have given it.
Robert A. Freeman (7) (8) (3)
is not good at picking winners and losers but it should concentrate on
ensuring our quality of life as well as a business-friendly climate,
since the two go hand in hand. We have not done a good job of doing
both over the years - Silicon Valley should have been in MN, not CA.
The bioscience revolution is likely going to pass us by for the same
reasons. We need to get away from a view that tax cuts to business
are corporate welfare and focus on how we can work together to make
our state's business climate stronger.
It is better to
have longer sessions in odd years because it gives new legislators a
chance to learn the ropes - we have had huge freshman classes these
last few years and those informational hearings have been invaluable.
However long or short the legislative session is it is guaranteed it
will go down to the wire in the last few days.
L. Weaver (0) (10) (10)
Stone (5) (0) (10)
In terms of
intellectual substance, this interview was exceptional by any
standard. Senjem carries an objectivity of policy intent that should
make him annoying to both parties; simply excellent. Authentic solid
ideas have a certain look and feel to them and Mr. Senjem presents
them with no soy filler.
that a major problem with recruiting candidates, “is
that the real candidates you want can't do it. They have a career to
attend to.”, has real consequence. There is an inverse
relationship between the public need for expertise in governance and
the quality of the people available to fulfill that need. The
available pool from which to draw seems heavily weighted toward
retired folks, the otherwise unemployed, highly motivated ideologues
and front men for interest groups.
Question 1: This
appears to be another well-intentioned (and frequent) false dichotomy.
Cutting taxes is part of a strategy specifically designed to
support job creation. Cutting taxes also protects existing jobs and
removes impediments to free market equilibrium while reducing the
welfare overburden along with the size of government.
2: A fix to the caucus fiasco is fundamental. The political gargoyles
of both major parties are adorning the henhouse. For this very reason,
a non-partisan program of public education must be incorporated into a
civics lesson on steroids. Other items to be included in the lesson
plan are the evils of dedicated funding, the perils of micromanagement
by referendum, the extent to which interest groups will fill any
vacuum created by apathy or lethargy and the relationship between
single party dominance and accountability.
Legislative sessions should be shortened. In 2009, 4,573 bills were
introduced. After 151 years of statehood, I find it unlikely that
Minnesota is in need of 4,573 new laws per year; or even the 179 bills
that the House and the Senate could agree on; or even the 149 that
The cocoa bean
mulch bill, the naming of a publicly funded highway after a deceased
member of the majority party, and a House Ethics Committee
investigation of childish Twittering by a DFL legislator are all
indications that the session was too long. The failure to pass an
acceptable budget suggests that the legislature need not have met this
year. North Dakota seems to suffer no pain from legislative sessions
every other year. The idea that “North Dakota has a small population”
is a correct but insufficient argument for Minnesota to ignore the
possibility of biennial sessions.
Rick Bishop (8) (5) (2)
Charles Lutz (4) (3) (3)
Bob White (6) (5) (4)
Compared with other Caucus interviews, I found this one of limited
value -- except for the interesting example of the biotech initiative
north of Rochester.
Christine Brazelton (9) (2) (5)
Question 1: While
tax rates have an impact on expansion of new business and creation of
jobs, they are only one part of the equation, and not the most
important part. Quality of life, cost of living, educational
preparation for specific types of businesses are also major components
in the decision making process.
Question 2: Nothing is futile if the plans make sense and take into
consideration the concerns of those opposed.
Question 3: No matter how much time is set aside, what is important is
how it is used. Too little time and we can't properly research the
issues. Too much time and it goes to waste. Perhaps we need to be
thinking about different ways to structure the sessions so that
members who need to work another job can do both. Committee meetings
with public hearings taking up a larger share of the week with one
floor session per week to vote on pending bills, or weighted towards
more research early on and more floor sessions later, with a triage
process involving leaders on both sides of the aisle to determine
We need to attract the best talent, and our current system sometimes
attracts those who may be good campaigners but not the best
legislators. But that may be part of another issue altogether!
about his recent session is tantamount to what I'm feeling about
our current local GOP sessions, here, in Florida. Would you
believe our leaders are stil bemoaning the November election rather
than getting down to business of how to proceed in this current
State Sen. Sandy Rummel (5) (5) (0)
Question 1: Job
creation is certainly important, and in the private sector preferable.
There is more to legislation than budgets and taxes however. Policy
legislation covers a wide spectrum of quality of life and justice
issues that make the State attractive to business and individuals.
Question 2: Maybe
there is opposition because people who participate in it like the
personal involvement in the election process.
Question 3: As it
is, the sessions are too short. With a part time legislature, the
research, consensus building, and sheer volume of work is difficult to
cover with meaningful outcomes given the current time lines.
Austin Chapman (5) (7) (9)
Driscoll (0) (10) (0)
Good luck. Cutting taxes is sexy. Raising adequate revenue isn't. If
the public sector is going to be involved in private sector job
creation - instead of leaving it entirely to capital markets where it
belongs - then we well better be ready to raise the revenues necessary
to do this - and not the least of those revenues better go to
stabilizing society's economic footing all along the income spectrum,
including adequate food, shelter, health care, education,
environmental integrity, infrastructure construction and maintenance -
and not throwing money at CEOs and corporations as if that strategy
ever really incentivized job creation rather than fattening the bottom
line. When an adequately fed, housed, educated, healthy workforce –
which is society's/government's role – is available for the jobs
capital is creating, and the commons is created and maintained, the
bottom line will take care of itself. Anytime government injects
itself into "job creation," invariably, the result is an imbalanced
competitive advantage for one corporation over others in the same
industry - stifling the very competition required for stabilizing
many corporate types these days have come to the same trough seeking
the same money they scream bloody murder over its use for supporting
Question 2: It depends on how one reforms the caucus system. All
parties work the system in their own fashion. The party's are
responsible for these reforms and will, one would think, reform the
system when they lose elections because of it. The caucus system isn't
the problem. It's about the conventions and the ethos that assumes you
can defeat Minnesota's open primary by demanding unfettered fealty to
an outmoded endorsement process. Challengers to endorsements are many
and often successful, challengers that were originally rejected as
endorsees purely because of their unwilling to take the pledge of
loyalty too often demanded as sole criterion for endorsement.
Ironically, once a challenger succeeds by defeating the party
endorsee, the party comes a-wooing to rope the challenger in under the
party umbrella once more. So much for loyalty oaths and hypocrisy.
Now, of course, the DFL is far more like to experience such
intra-party schism, but desperate and dysfunctional parties abound.
Each party's rules need revision, but it remains a party
Question 3: Democracy is sloppy and messy and not easily reined in.
Shorten the sessions. Stifle the voices.
Halstead (5) (5) (10)
Question 1: They
Question 2: It is
past time to elect a significant # of legislators that represent the
citizens of Minnesota.
1. It is time for
the unicameral legislature.
2. Reduce the
number of legislators by 50%.
3. Reduce their
rate of pay and reimbursement on a sliding scale after 60 days.
4. No pay and 50%
reduction of reimbursement if called back into session by the Governor
except for emergencies.
Sen. Jim Carlson
I think it would
be worthwhile for the "caucus" to do a little homework before an
interview and call him when he gives a B.S. answer.
I was formerly
under the understanding that your group had experienced managers and
legislators as members or advisors. The questions below seem to be
written by someone who not only has no legislative experience, but
probably can't even find the Capitol.
Detert (10) (2) (1)
Magnuson (8) (4) (8)
Keller (0) (0) (10)
I believe job
creation and tax policy are not mutually exclusive; I believe the
business community would respond favorably to a tax policy that
actually spread the tax over the general population, rather than
imposing new taxes (for the benefit of the general public) on
minorities, (smokers, drinkers, people making over 250k, business
property, etc). Finally, I believe we would rid ourselves of many of
these problems, (stemming from professional legislators), by moving to
Press (10) (0) (10)
Quie (10) (0) (0)
Question 3: The
problem is the organization of the legislature. Also, annual sessions
never worked. Legislative Study Commissions between sessions would
make the members more knowledgeable and less dependent on lobbyists.
Broden (10) (5) (8)
Question 1: The job environment in any state and particularly in Mn
must be first in setting the agenda for the role of government and how
taxes are applied. If we do have a strong economic climate then the
approach to government can be one direction if we are moving to a
maintenance of the population state then we have a different
environment. Mn is positioned to remain a job friendly state with a
strong workforce, well educated population etc.--the issue is how do
we maintain this position and only by having the jobs to keep
the educated and trained workforce involved in the jobs and thus
growing the economy. Jobs must lead--other things follow.
Question 2: The weakness in the precinct caucus system in Mn is too
often blamed on the role of government in setting the format for the
caucuses. The caucus weakness is more the impact of the
political parties, the leaders of the parties, and how citizens
want to and can participate. Reform is futile but the change can and
must come from the people who want government to work effectively and
not by some abstract vision from the legislature. The political
parties must be the leaders or lead through the candidates that
participate no by ideology. Each party must evolve back to be focused
on "good government first--politics second--not politics rules in all
Question 3: Shortened is a great goal however more important
is finding a way to evolve the legislature to have more citizen
legislators and move away from the professional members. There are
various incentives for this to happen. It will take some real
leadership from the people to make this happen. The legislature
itself cannot do this.
Ayotte (10) (5) (7)
Hamm (5)(5) (2)
This was not
especially stimulating guys, take care.
Question 1: The
question fails to accept that Minnesota's tax climate is a hindrance
to job growth.
Question 2: The
answer here totally lies in the facts of the proposed change. The
concept of change for changes sake completely fails.
Question 3: They
can't get the work done now.
Dorfman (0) (10) (5)
None of these
things makes any difference, Senjem doesn’t make any difference nor
does the senate republican caucus. They vote for all the spending
bills and in the end oppose the tax increases that the spending
requires. We should not pay any of them since they do not stand for
anything nor do they provide any constructive opposition.
Robert J. Brown (8) (0) (10)
went from a 60 day biennial session to 90 days to 120 days. At that
point when I was there we came up with what we called the flexible
session so those 120 days could be used over two years with a main
session and some days held for emergency or unique problems in the off
year. Nick Coleman and I agreed later that this was the greatest
mistake we made (both of us we key advocates of this change)as we
allowed those who wanted full time jobs as legislators to subvert our
intent and create a bureaucratic legislature more interested in
preserving their jobs than serving the public.
Swain (6) (5) (10)
Eklund (5) (1) (2)
Frenzel (3) (1) (9)
Clarence Shallbetter (8) (4) (7)
Question 3: It
takes considerable time for legislators to become informed about
specific areas of legislation, whether complex policy areas such as
health and welfare, education, taxes, or the budget. The challenge is
to get the process moving earlier so that all the big decisions don't
pile up for trading in the last week. The one advantage of shortening
the session might be if it enabled more people to be part time citizen
Schwarzkopf (7) (9) (9)
Hennessey (_) (_) (10)
Question 1: What
a false choice! How the heck can legislators "concentrate" on private
sector job creation? The only thing they can do is make sure
government does not hinder the private economy. And there is only one
way they can do that: keep taxes low, regulations few and reasonable.
The job of creating private sector jobs is the job of the private
sector, not government.
Question 2: I
have never seen the caucus system myself. In a primary election system
we still have the secret ballot. In a caucus you have to declare your
stand to your neighbors. Seems to me, there would be people sensitive
to criticism or reprisals. Would be interesting to study if the two
methods return the same result.
Question 3: Yes,
keep the miscreants out of session as long as possible. The more they
are in session, the more they feel compelled to meddle and "reform."
The shorter the session, the more they have to focus on the few
important issues that are properly their concern, and waste less time