Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Another dud from the Deputy

Poking around the Revisor of Statutes website is often illuminating and well, just plain fun! Instead of boring old budget stuff, you can read about some of the truly amazing and bizarre things that legislators believe. Like, for example, Rep. Kurt Bills yearning to return to the days of the gold standard. Last year, you could read about then Rep. Tom Emmer’s Tenth Amendment shenanigans like the Minnesota Incandescent Light Bulb Freedom Act, or his plan to let the legislature void any federal law it wanted to. (The current Speaker of the Minnesota House, Kurt Zellers, is on board with a similar idea, too, by the way.)

But let’s highlight another dud from the Deputy (Geoff Michel) this session, SF380, the subject of which is the right to engage in an occupation. (Astonishingly, there are other chief authors of the bill, including DFLers Ann Rest and Linda Scheid.) In the House, the bill was dropped in the hopper by Rep. Keith Downey, HF779. This is an all-Edina proposal!

According to the bill, and I am not making this up – you can look it up, as Yogi Berra said – if you are charged with say, the unauthorized practice of law or medicine, all you have to do is say, “Gee, your rule that I go to law school or medical school is burdensome to me, prove why it’s necessary.”

“I beg your pardon?” replies the Board of Medical or Law Examiners.

But then the Board must prove it, and it has the burden of showing – by "clear and convincing evidence" – that the licensure is necessary to protect against “present and recognizable harm to the public health and safety, and the regulation is the least restrictive means for furthering that compelling governmental interest.”

It may comes as a surprise to Michel – and it almost certainly does to Downey – that the scope of the practice of law, medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, the sale of insurance or real estate, barbering, cosmetology, or any other licensed occupation can already challenged both administratively and judicially. As with all legislative and administrative rules, however, the presumption is that the legislature or the administrative authority intended to and did act lawfully.

The idea, however, that it is up to the licensing board to prove to every guy who decides to set up shop to pull teeth in his garage that it is really necessary to license dentists is proof beyond a reasonable doubt that Michel and Downey are both mad as hatters.

If you look at the legislative history, you will see that this stinker was removed from the agenda by the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety. If a bill could die from embarrassment, this one did.

But it stands as an avatar for the quality of thinking of the legislative delegation from Edina.

I don't know where the photo came from originally, but I got it here.

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