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Opinion: Voter ID, Trademark Legislation and Education Veto

Rep. Joyce Peppin (32A) provides an legislative update April 5.

Editor's note: The following is reprinted, with permission, from Rep. Joyce Peppin's weekly email newsletter. Peppin (32A) represents several communities, including Maple Grove.

Dear Neighbors,

The Legislature has been in full swing this week as our work is primarily concentrated on the House floor. We have passed a series of smaller bills and larger, more comprehensive legislation that serves to promote state program and service efficiencies, while at the same time saving taxpayer dollars.

In this edition:

1. Voter ID

2. Trademark Legislation

3. Education Veto

4. Have a Joyful Passover and Happy Easter!

 

1. Voter ID

This week the Legislature passed the final, consensus Voter ID legislation. In November, Minnesotans will be asked the following question on their ballots: “Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to require all voters to present valid photo identification to vote and to require the state to provide free identification to eligible voters, effective July 1, 2013?”

If enacted, Minnesotans will be required to show valid photo identification in order to vote, as is the case in dozens of other states. The amendment would also allow for provisional ballots and same-day registration, but it would end vouching.

Minnesota is one of only two states in the nation that allow vouching, and it is the only state that permits a single voter to vouch for up to 15 unidentified voters, and in some circumstances, an unlimited number of voters.

Our efforts on this legislation are simply meant to add integrity to our voting system. The bill was written by Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer, a former Minnesota Secretary of State. The legislation is fair and inclusive, and I am confident it will increase confidence in our election system.

2. Trademark Legislation

This week I introduced the Minnesota Small Business Trademark Act that seeks to provide an alternative settlement process for trademark disputes between large and small companies that are claiming rights to the same or similar trademarks.

Currently, small businesses have little ability to fight an expensive legal battle if a large and well-known corporation sends a cease and desist letter demanding the smaller company stop using a trademark similar to that of the larger company’s trademark. Due to the excessive cost of waging a legal battle, small business owners usually capitulate and stop using their trademarks, even if they have been marketing their company trademark for years. The financial impact can be devastating to a small business owner trying to build market share.

House File 2996 would allow small businesses to bring legal action to a state settlement court, the Office of Administrative Hearings, at a much lower cost. If the larger company refuses to participate in the settlement conference, an Administrative Law Judge could issue an order recommending the Secretary of State revoke that company’s license to conduct business in Minnesota.

As my constituents tell me time and again, there are already so many obstacles and costs associated with starting a small business and making it profitable. Leveling the playing field so that small businesses can defend themselves in frivolous and expensive trademark disputes is one thing we can do to help small businesses thrive in Minnesota.

Although the bill was introduced too late to be heard in committee this session, we plan to work on the bill during the interim and re-introduce it next session.

3. Education Veto

It was extremely disappointing to read Governor Dayton’s veto message in response to our bill to pay back the 2011 K-12 education shift. For the first time in five years, the state is able to make good on its debts, and it is our objective to promote fiscal responsibility.

Our bill was well-intentioned, and it promoted priorities: restoring school funding to the 2010 schedule. Even after using reserve funds to pay back our schools, the state would still have more in its reserve and cash flow accounts than it has had in the last several years. Additionally, our long-term credit rating would have improved.

A few months ago, the Governor stated that repaying the school shift was among his top priorities. It is unfortunate that the Governor chooses to engage in divisive rhetoric, calling our well-intentioned bills “political ploys,” when, in fact, his vetoes and subsequent messaging tactics are intended to create an election atmosphere to elect a DFL majority this fall.

The Governor/DFL plan to pay back the shift was no different than much of their budget plans since Governor Dayton’s election; namely, raise taxes on those they consider middle and upper income families. I have repeatedly stated that the Governor’s tax plans are aimed squarely at hard working families in the northwest suburbs. As such, I will strongly oppose the Governor at every opportunity. This class warfare approach to governing is simply not in the best traditions of Minnesota government. The Governor and his DFL allies can do better.     

4. Have a Joyful Passover and Happy Easter!

To my Jewish and Christian friends, I wish a most joyful Passover and happy Easter to you and your families. To properly observe these holidays, the Legislature will be in recess from Thursday evening, April 5 until noon on Monday, April 16. My office will be fully staffed next week during the time the Legislature is in recess. It is a pleasure and a privilege to serve as your state representative in St. Paul. If you ever have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at any time.

Joyce

June Fahrmann April 07, 2012 at 01:55 AM
I don't see an update on H.F. No. 2340, requiring clinics that perform abortions to be licensed as Surgery Centers, Chapter 4675. These clinics do not even fall under the definition of "Surgery", anymore than a clinic that performs Vasectomies, suturing a wound, excising a skin cancer, mole, sebaceous cyst, vacuum aspiration for a miscarriage, etc. This bill is clearly discriminatory, and meant to close any clinic that performs abortions by placing extraordinary physical building requirements. that are frivolous. I hope the public will read the bill and the file on what it means to have your clinic defined as a "Surgery Center". They will realize that they may need to find a new Doctor due to these restrictions; very sad for the patients served by doctors they trust for primary medical care. Happy Easter to all, even if you are not Jewish or Christian!

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