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Hancock follows principle of limited government

Minnesota House Republicans used the past session to pursue government reforms begun last year, when the GOP wrested control of that chamber.

And that suits Rep. David Hancock, R-Bemidji, who considers himself a constitutionalist -- one who believes that state government should only provide what is in the State Constitution, namely public safety and the public education.

"I'm for limiting the influence of government," Hancock told me earlier this week. "I'm a believer in free enterprise. I ran a tire store for 23 years; it's in my blood. The solutions to challenges that we have lie within the individual, within the family, within the church, within the community."

One of the biggest accomplishments of the last two years, he said, is the push by the GOP to provide a state budget that didn't raise taxes and yet erased a $5.1 billion budget deficit. That came about by curbing spending and allowing the private sector to retain income.

"Government has a role in providing a framework in which those entities (individual, family, church, community) can grow and prosper," he said. "Generally, self-reliant people are very generous people."

House Republicans called their government reform in the 2012 session "Reform 2.0," says Hancock. It continued reform of the permitting process, allowing individuals and businesses a clearer path through government red tape to start or operate an enterprise. Many of the permitting challenges deal with natural resource issues.

"To me, the precious minerals a mile deep, if we don't use them, are really not doing society too much good," says Hancock, a member of the House Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Committee. "If we don't use the coal that we've been blessed to have, what good does it do to sit in the ground? The same with oil."

All available energy sources must be used, he said, including such alternatives as wind and ethanol. Using all the resources wisely produces jobs, enhances the economy and allows production.

"I don't think we need to abandon the idea that creation of wealth is a good thing," he said. "I'm not a big subsidy fan, whether it's windmills, solar energy, soybeans, corn, ethanol or Vikings stadiums. I'm not a big fan of public subsidies for private enterprise. The more we can extract government from the day-to-day lives of individuals and private industry, the greater the rewards are and potential."

Hancock said he voted against the Vikings stadium proposal because of its funding mechanism. He opposes the expansionof any sort of gambling, and instead supported the House GOP Caucus which called for user fees allowing those who use the stadium to pay for it. He also opposed provisions that allowed Minneapolis to supersede its own ordinances that called for a referendum vote.

Hancock also opposed a nearly $600 million bonding bill, even though it included several key Bemidji projects. He said the state can't afford it, just coming out of a deficit budget and economy that hasn't fully recovered.

He was chief author of the so-called lands bill, an annual measure proffered by the Department of Natural Resources that usually calls for minor land exchanges between public and private ownership. This year's bill became controversial as it tried to settle a dispute over the use of school trust lands in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

Gov. Mark Dayton signed an eventual compromise bill that exchanges 86,000 acres partly on a one-to-one exchange and partly through financial payment.

Now Hancock faces re-election to a second term in a new House 2A district that includes Lake of the Woods County and not Hubbard County. Filing on the Democrat side is Roger Erickson, a retired Baudette elementary school teacher.