Year in review: Green wants power restored to Republicans
BY Sarah smith
Rep. Steve Green began his “tabletop tour” warning his seven constituents of the upcoming battles the state faces over gun control and other issues successfully sidelined by the opposition party.
The first-term Dist. 2B Republican ended the tour in Park Rapids Monday by apologizing for not doing more this session, rejecting thanks for his part.
Green has been going from small town diner to diner, touching base with voters about their thoughts on the Legislative session that ended with a major Democratic victory – legalizing same-sex marriage.
He omitted discussion of that topic. He instead spoke of the battles to implement gun control legislation, viewed as a win for the Republican minority in both chambers.
The hallways of the statehouse “were lined with people opposed to gun control,” he said. “The citizens stopped that. I can almost guarantee it will be here next year.”
He urged more citizen involvement so rural districts like Park Rapids can be a force to be reckoned with.
“Community involvement, I know it gets expensive,” he said, urging citizens to visit their legislature in St. Paul as often as possible.
“If you go down with 100 people it makes a bigger impact,” he said, suggesting busloads of lobbyists.
Old familiar themes came up at the round table at the West 40 restaurant.
Jobs, taxes, spending, business retention.
“Fargo businesses have the edge,” Green said about the migration of businesses over state borders. Digi Key is warehousing there.
“Marvin and Polaris were looking to the Park Rapids area” to expand, he said of the Warroad window company and Thief River Falls snowmobile manufacturer.
Instead, those businesses moved employee “to Grafton, Idaho and Mexico,” Green maintained.
Minnesota’s business economy is too restrictive to allow businesses to flourish, he said. Retention is just as hard when businesses can find a better climate out of state.
“Do everything you can to retain the jobs you have,” he cautioned.
One woman said she has heard the tax climate will result in an exodus of people wanting to change permanent residences away from Minnesota.
“After July 1 when taxes hit unemployment will rise,” Green predicted.
Florence Hedeen, a Park Rapids woman active in the League of Women Voters, asked how people could make a living when so many employers are offering only part-time work.
And she asked Green how the country can achieve compromise on any legislation when it’s so polarized, both locally and nationwide.
“We’re split down the middle,” Hedeen said in obvious frustration. “We need to compromise. Each side has legitimate concerns. We’re just tossing a ball back and forth. It makes no sense at all.”
Green agreed the country is split, but disagreed “that it’s half and half.”
He said separation of powers “helps slow government down.”
Gridlock isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
“They’re actually doing their jobs.”
The welfare state especially troubles Green, he admitted, when polls show more Americans may be on welfare than on employee payrolls.
“You can’t survive if only half of the nation is working,” he said.
“Welfare is out of control.”
Green also spoke of complicated legislation such as the new health care bill, which exceeded 800 pages.
“People voted for it and didn’t know what was in it,” he said. He admitted he didn’t get enough time to wade through the bill and isn’t satisfied with the health care exchanges set to go into effect next year.
Green said he doesn’t believe in climate change and sees no reason to conserve energy for the future.
“We have more oil than Saudi Arabia,” he said.
Both he and constituent Arnold Leshovsky of Nevis disagreed that natural resources are a finite entity.
“Water? It’s all recycled,” Leshovsky pointed out. “It just changes form.”
Green also said stadium legislation and proposed electronic gaming funds were a debacle. The games are expensive to install and no one wants to play them, he said, shaking his head.
“We have to be responsible,” He reiterated. “I don’t think we were as responsible this session as we could have been.”
He said the state faces an even larger deficit because money has already been spent in anticipation of tax increases is already gone.