Earlier this week the state House shot down SB2293 which in its original form would have established a rail safety committee and it would have redirected an existing rail fuel excise tax to safety improvements. By the time it had reached the House it had been amended to a requirement that the Public Service Commission and Department of Transportation, which have started their own initiatives in this direction, report their progress to Legislative Management.
But the House killed the bill anyway because by any honest assessment it is duplicative and unnecessary. The PSC and the DOT report to the Legislature all the time. The idea that we need some special bill to require reporting on this specific issue is a little ridiculous.
The bill’s sponsor, though, was state Senator George Sinner who has been eager to prove a rumor Democrats have been circulating since before the session, which is that House Majority Leader Al Carlson is dedicated to blocking all legislation introduced by George Sinner.
[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#000000″ txt_color=”#ffffff”]The idea that Republicans have bothered to target his legislation in any way beyond gossip and joking around is more a product of Sinner’s ego than reality.[/mks_pullquote]
In an op/ed today, a righteously indignant Sinner thinks he’s got his smoking gun to prove this charge against Carlson. “When House Majority Leader Al Carlson, R-Fargo, stated that there will be no bills from George Sinner passing his body, his message apparently did not fall on deaf ears,” he writes.
You almost get the idea that Sinner is less concerned about rail safety than he is his political resume (witness this tantrum in a similar vein from Sinner over sales tax policy).
I don’t think the Republican majorities in the Legislature take Sinner as seriously as he takes himself. The guy couldn’t even manage to score 40 percent of the vote on the statewide ballot in 2014, despite an aggressive campaign against incumbent Rep. Kevin Cramer. The idea that Republicans have bothered to target his legislation in any way beyond gossip and joking around is more a product of Sinner’s ego than reality.
Maybe he thinks grandstanding on down-in-the-weeds rail safety legislation is his ticket to an elevated political posture in the state, but I think he’s kidding himself.
His legislation was weak tea. It would have accomplished exactly nothing in terms of improving rail safety, though perhaps more important to Sinner is that it could have been a line item for his political resume. But whatever.
The Legislature did what it’s supposed to do with meaningless feel-good bills from the politically ambitious.
They rejected it, and they were right to. As soon as Sinner is done with his caterwauling, the grownups can get back to more serious policymaking.