If a person unfamiliar with the political landscape of Minnesota were to try and understand our political make-up and were to use the spate of legislation passing this session, they might believe Minnesota to be a hard left-leaning state. Now, there is a distinct divide between the politics of the two largest cities, combined with the regional centers and compared to the rest of Greater Minnesota. When Republicans controlled the state Senate few items passed both bodies and were signed into law. In fact, as in the case of election law, Governor Mark Dayton (DFL-MN) broadly pronounced he would only sign bipartisan legislation in this area.
This has meant far less legislation passed in the last decade than is advancing this session. Yes, the spending bills for each department passed in compromised form, during divided government, but very few social issues emerged in such a fashion.
Now, with uniform control from the DFL Trifecta, we would characterize this time period as seeing the advancement of far more permissive legislation from the codification of a women’s bodily autonomy through the fundamental right to reproductive health care, post the US Supreme Court’s Doe decision, the restoration of felon voting rights, the prohibition of conversion therapy, the state’s sanctuary status of gender-affirming healthcare, and the expected legalization of cannabis, which helps move our nation from the Just Say No era of former First lady Nancy Reagan and how we as a nation were embroiled in a fake “Drug War” to a Just Say Yes or Don’t Say No era. All legislative items which would not have seen passage in a divided political time.
On the other hand, the Republican opposition has been based on a more restrictive set of tenants. The GOP wants to deny opportunities they find objectionable or in many cases immoral. Their fundamentalist approach seeks to prevent the rights of the individual over the concerns of a more conservative community. The concerns of what occurs in the classroom to the bedroom are areas where Republicans and Democrats differ vastly, and it is only through the difference in a single vote in the state Senate and the cohesion amongst the DFL Senators that any of this legislation, much of which has passed in the house in previous sessions would have occurred.
The proactive, permissive legislation will remain in place once passed because once people have tasted the freedoms and liberties they are rarely willing to accept any retraction or loss of the privileges. It’s Permissive Politics v Restrictive Politics.