Update: Minnesota Governor Sides with the Lawyers (and Against Dads)

Minnesota Governor did the WRONG thing when he vetoed the Shared Custody Bill.

A while ago, I wrote about a bill making its way through the Minnesota legislature. At first, the bill was going to take the presumption of parenting in cases of divorce from 75%-25% to 45%-45%, with the remaining 10% to be worked out by the divorcing parties. Effectively, that means that dads would go from 25% to 45%.

In committee, the bill was gutted, merely raising the 25% that goes to dads to 35%, but it finally got out of committee, to the floors of the House and Senate, and passed both houses.

Yesterday, Governor Mark Dayton — a divorced father himself — sided with the divorce industry and vetoed the bill, defying the will of the people of the state and of our representatives. Yet he thought it wise to spend a bunch of his political capital embarrassingly cheerleading for public funds to build a billion-dollar Taj Mahal for the NFL.

In his explanation letter, he even admits to being swayed by lobbyists, rather than listening to the citizens of the state:

“People and parties on both sides of the legislation share the same good faith intentions rooted in their shared desire to prescribe what will be best for every parent and, especially, every child ensnared in the painful dissolution of a marriage,” Dayton wrote. “Torn between the persuasive arguments of both proponents and opponents of the legislation, I am particularly influenced by the strong opposition of so many organizations (although not all of their members), who work every day with the most challenging divorces and their effects on the well-being, and even the safety, of parents and children.”

I testified at a Senate committee. There was only one organization that spoke against the bill: the Society of Matrimonial Lawyers. That is, the lobbyist for divorce lawyers.

I’m not objective, but many of the commenters on the StarTribune website agree with me: Governor Mark Dayton is a coward.

Jesse Ventura may have been crazy, but at least he had the gumption to stand up to special interests. I long for those days.

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  • Carla

    Boo. Just when it looked like the wacky had worked its way out of Dayton’s system, he flubs two game-changers in a row. So will the bill go back for revisions or is it dead in the water?

  • Sandra

    Carla–Dayton SAYS he hopes the bill will be revised/reworded and that it will be up for approval again next year. He claims he wants to eventually pass it. Either that’s not true or he was completely fooled by big money lawyers this time around.

    All of the people (aka fathers) who were there testifying and pushing for that bill will never reap its benefits due to the normal time lag in legislation. If that doesn’t speak volumes about those dads being the voice of the greater good, I don’t know what would.

  • curtis

    From my reading of events around this bill, it was the fact that battered-women advocates were opposed to the bill that seems to have tipped Dayton into vetoing it. I’m not sure the details of their objection. Perhaps they had the feeling that a default position of 35% to the dad, unless something is worked out otherwise, had no protection for a woman and children in an abusive situation, who may not have the resources to enter into a legal battle with dad. Unfortunately, it seems that men are more often than not the aggressors in abusive relationship, so perhaps they couldn’t accept a default position of 35% custody for men.

    I think that if some adjustments could be made to satisfy the concerns of battered-women advocates, Dayton would have signed the bill. Is their some discussion going on between dad advocates and women’s advocates? Right or wrong, many politicians will not sign a bill that an outspoken women’s group is clearly opposed to, so I think they will have to be on board next time around.