On Television: Do Democrats Want To Make Policy Or Make Headlines?


Do Democrats care about making good policy, or making headlines?

On my television segment last night with Chris Berg on Valley News Live (watch it here) we discussed the news I broke yesterday regarding legislative Democrats and their treatment of one of their own who broke ranks on the oil tax reform bill.

Senator Connie Triplett (D-Grand Forks) co-sponsored an amendment to HB1476 in the Senate Finance and Taxation Committee with *gasp*, a Republican!

This is a bill that Democrats have described as a “doomsday” proposal and a “nightmare” (even though a similar proposal was a Democrat bill back in 2011). They’ve invested themselves heavily in hating this bill, and convincing the public that it’s little more than a mortgaging of the state’s future in order to give a tax cut to “big oil.”

But Triplett’s efforts to amend the bill (the committee approved the bill last night on a 6-1 vote with 5 Republicans and Triplett supporting it), and presumably her vote in favor of the amended bill when it comes to the Senate floor, are inconvenient for Democrat talking points. Because now the bill has bipartisan support.

The reaction from Triplett’s fellow Democrats was pretty vicious. As I reported yesterday, Senator George Sinner (R-Fargo) made a motion to strip her of her seat on the influential interim Legislative Management committee. “As a member of the Finance and Taxation Committee, my job is to do the best work I’m capable of to make bills better,” Triplett told the Bismarck Tribune after my post went public.

More from the Grand Forks Herald:

Triplett said Sen. George Sinner, D-Fargo, told her he intends to make a motion to have her removed from Legislative Management, an upcoming interim appointment she was elected to last week.

Sinner said he’s not happy Triplett proposed the amendments without talking to other Democrats, calling the proposed tax reform the biggest piece of legislation to be considered in 10 years.

If Democrats hate the idea of taking a massive and unpredictable tax exemption, which causes wild swings in state revenues, away from the oil industry in favor of a slightly lower overall rate then fine. That’s misguided, I think, but that’s their prerogative.

But to attack one of their own for working with Republicans on the bill to make it somewhat more palatable to Democrats?

That makes me wonder if Democrats are working in Bismarck to make good policy, or just to make media headlines they can turn into campaign slogans.