8:33 PM | Posted in ,
Nearly a year ago I wrote about the vast difference between my legislator, Larry Haws and the legislator next door, Steve Gottwalt. Part of that analysis was to show how very little the legislator next door gets done in the realm of things that matter:

Some of his accomplishment thus far this session:
  • HF 2965: Driver's license photographs required to show full head and face.
This is a purely divisive bill meant to demagogue new immigrants (primarily from Arab countries) whose customs require them to have their face covered at all times.

If the people of House District 15A cannot recognize that Mr. Gottwalt does little to work for them and much to keep them divided, they will continue to be represented by a politician whose sole claim to fame is wedge politics rather than improving the lives of his constituents. At first glance, the man seems to be ready to solve the problems of the district, but on further inspection it appears as though he is doing little to address the real problems.

Well, Gottwalt and friends are back at it this session despite real problems such as, I don't know, a massive budget deficit! Perhaps the Republican Party in Minnesota will one day realize that it is the consistent pounding of wedge politics which keeps them in political limbo...

The St. Cloud Times Editorial Staff took Gottwalt and the other co-authors to task for signing on to this useless waste of time:

What priority?

Even with the changes, we question if this is really a legislative priority for law enforcement.

Why? Well, not only have we heard little to nothing from local law enforcement leaders, but the state police chiefs association — the main backer — does not list it under “Current Policing Issues” on its Web site. Similarly, when asked Wednesday by this board about its position, the Minnesota Sheriffs Association had to poll its leaders to determine an official stand.

All of that speaks volumes about its priority level among public safety challenges in Minnesota.

Apply it and think!

Perhaps most distressingly, though, is supporters (including co-authors Reps. Larry Hosch, Dan Severson and Mary Kiffmeyer) appear not to have thought through what they were asking for — especially the original idea that an outright ban makes it faster and easier to identify people.

Set aside potential culture wars and think about it.

A police officer stops someone whose religion requires they wear headgear in public. But when the officer looks at the license, the photo shows no headgear. So much for easier identification.

Similar logic applies to recognition by revealing hair and scalp. Of all the features on your head — ears, eyes, chin, nose, skin, mouth and hair — which of those have you (or, OK, genetics) changed the most in your lifetime? And which is easiest to change?

At least the changes announced Thursday put the measure more in line with the initial goal.

Still, the reality is Minnesota’s existing requirements for pictures on driver licenses and state ID cards are very adequate. They require a “full-face image taken by the [state] that is a representation of the true appearance of the applicant. ... The face of the applicant must be uncovered and unobscured. ...”

Please note that does not allow veils, scarves or anything that covers the face. And it’s already incredibly close to exactly what passports require.

Given all of that, please don’t bother with this proposal.

Excellent work, Steve! In the midst of a budget crisis you didn't take your eye off the divisive politics ball. You are a true gem to the conservative movement...