Dallas Sams. Got the news on Monday this week
that former state Sen. Dallas Sams died. While it wasn’t completely
unexpected – he was battling brain cancer – it nonetheless is very
sad. Many of those in the outdoors world were understandably
subdued when they spoke of him.
But, to a person, they all recalled a sincere, good guy – both
inside and outside the Capitol. Kind words were expected from Sams’
legislative colleagues, but you could tell a number of them from
both political parties had a much deeper amount of respect and
admiration for him than you typically see.
I dealt with Sams on a number of occasions. First, during my
time in Alexandria, when he showed a young reporter that
politicians are just regular people (why I ever thought
differently, I don’t know).
Last year, it was during what ended up becoming the Dedicated
Funding Debacle. I spoke with Sams a number of times throughout the
session, and no matter the politics that had entered the game, he
was always upbeat that 2006 would be the year the Legislature
finally passed it. There’s no doubt he wanted it to pass on his
watch. When that didn’t happen – I still believe the blame lies
mostly at the feet of leadership, rather than with Sams and Tom
Hackbarth, who were advocating very different versions but both
said they could have locked themselves in a room and come out with
an agreement -Sams took it personally, even telling one writer he
was going to move to Wisconsin.
Dedicated funding. While Senate Majority Leader
Larry Pogemiller has said the bill he’s carrying will be dedicated
to Sams, it might not matter if there’s no action in the House. To
date, the bill has passed two Senate committees. There’s a few
versions in the House, but there have been no hearings or serious
discussions about it there.
Part of the reason: House lawmakers say they’re getting very,
very few calls in support of it. Group leaders and lobbyists can
talk about dedicated funding until they’re blue in the face. Not to
diminish in any way the work they’ve done in pushing the concept
forward and keeping it on the radar screen, but look where that’s
got us to this point. Even they’ll tell you, it comes down to a
huge grass-roots effort.
Legislators are always saying they need to hear from their
constituents, from the rank-and-file people. Ladies and gentlemen,
it ain’t hard to make a quick call or type a short message voicing
your support for the measure. If you won’t make the effort to do
that, you’re certainly in no position to complain when the concept
goes down in flames.
All the information you need to find your state senator or
representative is at www.leg.state.mn.us.