To the editor:
By all accounts, Chris Swedzinski is a nice guy - a devoted dad and an upstanding member of his church community. But Mr. Swedzinski is not running for father of the year. He is running for re-election to the House of Representatives. Before the voters of southwest Minnesota decide to send him back to the Legislature, they would do well to ask a few serious questions about his political record.
For example, they might want to know why, during difficult economic times, he has dithered away his tenure in St. Paul sponsoring far-fetched legislation that stood little to no chance of passage. Case in point, Swedzinski co-sponsored legislation to designate gold and silver coins "as official legal tender." Want a cup of coffee? Break out your doubloons or your Krugerrands! He didn't stop there. Swedzinski also sponsored legislation to prohibit legislative sessions in even numbered years. Need your state representative to stand up for you in an odd-numbered year? If Chris had his way, you might have to wait awhile. And then there was HF3002. Chris's description of the bill reads as follows: "Motor vehicle fuel sale restriction and criminalization prohibited by local government units." Translation? Legalize price gouging at local gas pumps.
The voters might also want to know why, in a time when MNSCU and the University of Minnesota are struggling to deal with significantly reduced budgets and ever increasing enrollments, Mr. Swedzinski sponsored legislation to place a "permanent limitation" on state university budgets. So much for standing up for SMSU.
Finally, the voters might want to know why a legislator purporting to represent the interests of the voters of southwest Minnesota would severely limit his options by endorsing Grover Norquist's divisive, no-compromise crusade against reasonable taxation. Even more important, why would he sponsor "healthcare" legislation (HF1351) crafted by professional lobbyists at the American Legislative Exchange Council? It's enough to make a person wonder whether, in his short time in office, Mr. Swedzinski has become thoroughly beholden to outside interests in remote places.
None of this means Chris is a bad person, but it does mean that for the last two years he has championed ideas that fall well outside the mainstream and done his part to perpetuate political gridlock in St. Paul.
Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and none of these proposals became law. But it shouldn't have to be this way. The people of District 16A shouldn't have to cross their fingers, hoping their legislator will fight for their interests. We need legislators who are willing to roll up their sleeves, tune out extreme voices, and work across the aisle to pass responsible legislation.