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Letter: 'Agriculture is not a distraction'

House Ag Policy Chairwoman Jeanne Poppe recently said I was "fanning political flames" over my disgust with the House Democrat majority decision to hand over agriculture and rural development finance decisions to a member from Minneapolis, who I believe, has voted against all but one agriculture finance omnibus bill since 1998.

I've also learned that the Rural Finance Authority jurisdiction has recently been moved out of the control of the Agriculture Committee and is now under control of a member from (brace yourself) St. Paul.

To clarify, this isn't a Democrat versus Republican issue. It's rural versus metro. Think of the message this sends to Greater Minnesota. Then think about the message that's sent when the majority creates 29 committees, and only allows four rural Democrats outside of the Metro Area, Rochester and the Duluth area to chair them.

Rep. Poppe wants bipartisanship and to work together, as do I. Yet rural members continue to get jabbed in the eye.

To be clear, I have a tremendous amount of respect for Rep. Poppe. I simply hoped to give her more authority by letting her control ag funding decisions in her ag policy committee. She's from rural Minnesota, has common sense and works hard for agriculture. She gets it.

This debate is about standing up for rural Minnesota and the people we represent. This was never about taking any control away from the Democrat majority, but to try and get rural colleagues to gain courage and stand up to their Minneapolis leaders and right a wrong.

Rep. Poppe is correct by saying constituents expect political leaders to work together in a serious and focused manner to find common ground and make responsible decisions. In this case, the responsible decision would have been to put a rural Democrat in charge of rural Minnesota funding needs.

The House majority has now had two opportunities to make this change and has done nothing except complain that I'm causing a distraction. Agriculture is not a distraction!

However, if standing up for my constituents and for rural Minnesota's interests somehow qualifies as a legislative distraction, then consider me guilty as charged.