Sen. Gene Dornink: A reflection on the meaning of service

31 May 2024

Friends and neighbors,

Memorial Day recently passed, and I want to start off by acknowledging all the brave men and women who have served, who are currently serving, and those who sacrificed their lives for our American freedoms. Thank you for your service!

Reflecting on the end of the legislative session, I’m struck by the stark contrast between the selflessness of our military members and the current political landscape, where power and partisanship often overshadow the spirit of service.

More politicians should emulate the dedication of our service members. Sadly, this past legislative session has underscored the divide.

You may have read Representative Bennett’s recent article highlighting how Democrats misused their power to push through their agenda at the session’s end. This was the result of poor time management and a lack of self-discipline among their members, but it was also a complete violation of the public trust.

This session — meant to focus on a supplemental budget and critical infrastructure projects — saw Democrats prioritize excessive spending and regulation instead.

With control of both the House and Senate, the majority party cherry-picked bills for committee consideration and dominated the floor schedule throughout the year. Despite ample opportunities for meaningful, bipartisan work, the session ended with partisan policies imposing more mandates on our schools, businesses, and working Minnesotans. This is on top of the $10 billion in tax increases from last session — plus the $19 billion surplus spent — to cover the majority’s extreme agenda. In a time of record inflation, we are forcing hardworking Minnesotans to pay for even more bloated government spending.

The session’s outcome is deeply disappointing. Those in power prioritized politics over serving all Minnesotans, betraying the “One Minnesota” promise we’ve heard for years.

The rushed passage of a 1,494-page mega omnibus bill without public or legislative review exemplifies misplaced priorities. It will take weeks to fully understand its impact.

Legislation should be deliberate and well-considered, akin to military operations, requiring collaboration and discipline. This has not been the case in the past two years. We will see what voters have to say in November.

Since 1893, President Washington’s farewell address has been read out loud by a different U.S. Senator every year on the Senate floor. In this speech, Washington cautions against political parties becoming overly partisan and those in power silencing minority voices. This is something we all need to take to heart. Both Democrat and Republican majorities need to heed Washington’s warnings to not be tempted to abuse the power given to them by the people.

The departure from serving all Minnesotans is a disheartening testament to political self-interest over public service. It’s time to prioritize the public good over political gain, in the spirit of those who serve in uniform.

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