So how divided were the Republicans and Democrats in 2013 Minnesota Legislative session that just ended? A quick sample of the numbers suggests a big divided.
I looked at four of the biggest bills that the House and Senate voted on during the 2013 session. These four were the creation of the health care exchanges for the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare); legalization of same-sex marriage; the tax bill; and legislation authorizing day-care workers to unionize. Arguably these were the four most important if not contentious bills the legislators had to vote on in 2013. What I found was that for DFL in the House and Senate, 94.6% of votes cast by Democrats were for yes on these bills, while 98% of the GOP votes cast were no. Had there been floor votes on minimum wage and the anti-bullying legislation I suspect we would find similar percentages.
So does this prove that the DFL is guilty of one-party rule or that they are acting in a partisan fashion when in the majority? Maybe. But just for comparison, I looked back to the 2011-12 legislative session at two of the biggest bills–the votes authorizing the constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and the one authorizing the constitutional amendment requiring photo ID when voting. Here, 97.7% of DFL votes cast on these amendments were no, while for Republicans 98.3% were yes. When the GOP were in the majority, the two parties also seemed very divided.
In a future blog or op-ed I will discuss what all this means and what it says about the possibility of bipartisanship.