Political Chatter: Minnesota Legislators Seeing Pink, Blaze Pink

The big debates in the Minnesota Legislature tend to be about taxes, spending, abortion, gay rights and such, but it turned to orange vs. pink the other day.

During a House committee meeting, in which several male representatives wore bright pink clothes, lawmakers debated whether to allow hunters to wear “blaze pink” instead of the traditional blaze orange, if they want.

The provision is contained in a game and fish bill the committee eventually passed, but not before Rep. Alice Hausman, D-St. Paul, unsuccessfully tried to remove it.

Hausman said she talked to constituents about the pink issue, and received comments such as “only a man could come up with something like that” and “isn’t that sexist?”

The pink provision was added, in part at least, to attract more women to hunting. While the sexist argument has been used against the idea in other states where the issue came up, pink does seem to have a bit of momentum. Wisconsin, for instance, recently approved the concept.

Rep. Dan Fabian, R-Roseau, sent a message to a girl during the committee hearing, asking if she would prefer wearing orange or pink. The one-word reply was: “pink.”

Fabian made one point clear: “No one is forcing anyone to wear blaze pink.”

Rep. Denny McNamara, R-Hastings, said his granddaughter “thinks it’s really cool that she gets to wear camo that’s pink. … I truthfully believe she is more excited about going hunting because she gets to wear that.”

A Wisconsin researcher has determined that pink is at least as visible to other hunters as the traditional orange and may be less visible to deer, which would be good news for hunters.

Current Minnesota law requires blaze orange clothes, an attempt to ensure that hunters can see each other in the field.

Rural educators face challenges

Rural Minnesota teachers face problems their colleagues in cities do not, U.S. Sen. Al Franken says his “rural education tour” is finding.

“My office is meeting with rural educators across the state to better understand the challenges that come with delivering a top-quality education in rural communities,” the Minnesota Democrat said. “We’re also hearing about some of the innovative initiatives they have developed to deal with the issues they face in their districts and communities.”

Franken, a Senate Education Committee member, said he is looking for solutions of problems rural teachers report, including teacher shortages, transportation challenges, funding shortages and lack of access to quality broadband Internet services.

Two stops remain on the tour: 1 p.m. April 26 at the Northeast Service Cooperative in Mountain Iron and 2 p.m. April 28 at Lakes Country Service Cooperative in Fergus Falls.

Conservatives dislike travel ban

A leading Minnesota conservative group says Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton’s ban on much state travel to North Carolina and Mississippi is misplaced.

The Mississippi ban comes after the state enacted a law that allows businesses to reject business based on sexual orientation. For instance, a wedding photographer would not be forced to accept an assignment to shoot a gay wedding.

“Mississippi’s Religious Freedom bill restrains unnecessary government interference in people’s private lives, while at the same time maintains balance so as to prevent discrimination,” John Helmberger of Minnesota Family Council said. “Although Gov. Dayton has attempted to cast religious freedom in a bigoted light, nothing could be further from the truth. Religious individuals and groups simply want to live their lives and operate their private businesses accordance with their firmly held religious beliefs.”

Dayton has said that one of his proudest accomplishments as governor was signing a law allowing gays to marry.

Dayton names inclusion officer

A Brooklyn Park man will become Minnesota’s first chief inclusion officer, given the responsibility to ensure the state hires a diverse workforce.

Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton made the appointment of James C. Burroughs as part of his effort to diversity state employees.

“Mr. Burroughs will be invaluable in our state’s efforts to be more inclusive and representative of the people we serve,” Dayton aid.

Burroughs, a lawyer, not only will look for a diverse workforce, but also increase state contracts for racially diverse businesses and increase the state’s engagement with communities of color.

Klobuchar wants security

Stronger airport security is the goal of a U.S. Senate provision by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.

The Klobuchar measure, passed by the full Senate as part of a Federal Aviation Authority bill, would especially bump up security in non-secure locations like check-in and baggage areas. It also would increase the presence of federal agents with bomb-sniffing dogs and direct Homeland Security Department funding to enhance security in perimeter areas.

“It’s not often that we can increase efficiency and security at the same time, but we have started to see this at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport, where wait times, while still too long, have been reduced as new K-9 teams help process and move passengers to secure areas more quickly,” Klobuchar said. “This amendment will help increase the presence of security personnel patrolling the perimeter areas at our airports … that could be the most susceptible to attack.”