Vetoes and Other Failed Legislation
“It’s not the government’s responsibility when there’s been failed parenting.”
As a Minnesota legislator I successfully passed legislation, but some unsuccessful efforts make for good stories. Arne Carlson twice vetoed bills that both the House and the Senate thought would be good things to do – or at least innocuous enough not to vote against.
My Tow Company Bill
In 1994 a constituent asked me to intercede to try to get his nursing uniform out of the trunk of his car that had been towed. The towing company was demanding he pay all the towing charges before they’d let him on their lot to retrieve his possessions. He understood not getting his car back until after he settled up, but I thought he made a good argument that to get the money to pay them he had to work, and his employer wouldn’t let him work sans uniform, so come on! Keep the car but let him get his uniform!
“No way,” they said, pointing to a state law that allows the vehicle and all its contents to be kept as a bailment.
“Well,” I said back to them, “we’ll see if that’s going to stay the law or not,” and proceeded to draft a bill that deleted the clause allowing them to retain the personal property, but the bill let them keep the car until paid. Although my constituent borrowed some money, got his car back, and returned to work, I kept the bill moving through the legislative process thinking the next guy in a similar situation would be thankful.
There was no opposition to the bill. It cleared all committees with nary a word spoken against it. Even made the “Consent Calendar” where we vote on non-controversial bills. Passed both the House and the Senate and went to the Governor’s desk for his signature. Next morning I arrived at the Capitol at my usual hour and the entire Capitol area was ringed 360 degrees in every direction the eye could see by tow trucks with all their lights flashing. This couldn’t be about my non-controversial bill, could it?
It was, and the Governor had already vetoed it. Just like that without even consulting me. Just to get the damn tow trucks to go away. So don’t leave things in your car if you’re going to be towed. I’ve often wondered if Arne was friends with that tow company guy and the tow companies had just laid in wait to show me who was boss, or whether they only became aware of the bill at the last minute.
Tomorrow: My Bill to Let 16 Year-Olds Participate in Politics