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Kate Knuth: Expect 'Divisive, Bruising' Election Season

The retiring DFL legislator said ballot amendments will likely raise ire.

Look out for a rough-and-tumble election season, state Rep. Kate Knuth (DFL-50B) said in an email to constituents Tuesday.

Knuth won't be a candidate for re-election this year: She after with fellow incumbent DFLer Tom Tillberry. But she predicted that with and requiring on the November ballot, "Minnesota will likely experience a divisive, bruising election season."

Here is Knuth's message:

Dear neighbors,

The 2012 legislative session wrapped up in mid-May with final legislative action demonstrating that Minnesotans do best when the legislature works together for the common good of our state. However, the 2011-2012 biennium leaves our community and state with many challenges resulting from shortsighted, divisive action. Over the next months and years, Minnesotans will have to work together to make sure our state remains a great place to live, work, and raise a family.

In the final days of the legislative session, much of the focus was on the Vikings stadium legislation and the capitol investment, or bonding, bill. The stadium bill elicited a lot of public discussion over the course of the last few years, and while many disagree on the outcome it passed because of bipartisan support. The Vikings will stay in Minnesota. The capital investment bill also passed with bipartisan support. From rehabbing public university buildings to making a down payment on restoring our beautiful state capitol, the capital investment will benefit communities all around the state. Because of bipartisan effort, Minnesotans will go to work building infrastructure for our state’s future.

The bipartisan work at the end of the legislative session was not the norm for the biennium. Last summer’s lengthy government shutdown impacted families across the state, and the final budget continues to impact Minnesota families.  Many have felt the elimination of the Market Value Homestead Credit in their property tax bills this year. Unfortunately, the legislature did not move forward on property tax relief for middle class families this session, and property taxes continue to rise.

Another sign of divisive politics at the legislature is the passage of two constitutional amendments that will now be on the ballot in November.  The amendment defining marriage as between a man and woman passed last session. State law already defines marriage in this way, and many would argue this amendment is at best unnecessary and at worst divisive and hurtful. 

The voter ID amendment will also be on the ballot in November.  For the first time, a constitutional amendment has been placed on the ballot with a strict party line vote, which threatens Minnesota’s election system. Minnesota has a tradition of fair elections with very high turnout, and this is a tradition we need to protect and continue. The voter ID amendment does just the opposite.

With these two constitutional amendments on the ballot, Minnesota will likely experience a divisive, bruising election season. I hope Minnesotans will step up, have a respectful debate and vote down both amendments.

Minnesota is a great place to live, but looking forward it’s clear we still have work to do to ensure our state continues to be an exceptional place.  Another multi-billion dollar shortfall is projected in the next budget cycle, and the one-time budget fixes of a school shift and tobacco bonds leave Minnesota on shaky financial footing. Our tax system is still in need of reform to meet the demands of the 21st-century, and our energy system needs to be rebuilt as well. I am hopeful Minnesotans will work together to find effective, homegrown solutions to these challenges in coming years.

It’s not surprising that at the legislature we have big fights.  We are debating something really important: our future together.  At the end of the day, this is why I love serving.  I get to help make our future together better.  When trying to get positive results for our future, I’ve learned a lot. The biggest thing I’ve learned during my service this session is that leadership, a willingness to govern, and a focus on the common good all matter. Looking forward, this is the kind of service we should ask for, expect, and be willing to work toward.  Our future together depends on it.

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