A hardy crowd of anti-tax activists turned out in the cold and rain to voice their displeasure at lawmakers Saturday.
Those new fees they're talking about on hunting and fishing licenses? Those sound suspiciously like taxes. The financing plan for a new Vikings stadium? The word "tax" comes up a lot in the legislative language.
Former presidential candidate Herman Cain headlined the Taxpayers League of Minnesota's 2012 Taxpayer Rally.
"The Founding Fathers knew that a day like this would come," said Cain, who arrived to cheers of "9-9-9" and "Kiss My Tax." "When we would be totally fed up with the direction of this country. Fed up with too much legislation, too much taxation and too much regulations. That's why when you get to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, the the founding fathers also said if any form of government should be found destructive of those ideals, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it. We've got to abolish the IRS and the tax code."
Afterward, Cain told reporters that the rally's organizers were disappointed by the turnout -- about 250 people, instead of the hoped-for thousands. But Cain said he was impressed that that many people turned out in weather that was cold enough turn the rain to sleet.
"It was very inspiring," he said. "You still had a huge, enthusiastic crowd out there that stood out there in the rainy cold weather because they are the true patriots who care about changing this country and taking it back."
The rally lasted almost four hours. Between speeches, participants browsed through booths erected by candidates and groups advocating for everything from voter ID to a return to the gold standard.
"People are happy about some things (that have happened during the GOP's two years in control of the Minnesota Legislature) and very disappointed about other things," said Twila Brase, of the Citizens Council for Health Freedom. "They may have wished that the legislators would have pushed a more conservative agenda, would have actually put bills in front of the governor, that he would veto, small bills about really small, critical issues that they know are really important to conservatives. And for the most part, they haven't done that."
There were few Minnesota lawmakers to be seen at the rally, even though the Legislature is working through the weekend, trying to come to an agreement on issues like the Vikings stadium and the flagging effort to craft this year's multi-million dollar bonding bill. Rep. Mary Franson, R-Alexandria, watched the action, bundled up in a blanket in the Voices of Conservative Women tent.
"These are people who dont' want taxpayer subsidies going to build the stadium," she said. "Personally, I don't think the funding mechanism, with just the electronic pulltabs, is going to work. I think it's irresponsible to fund it with an untested method. You don't go house shoping and say 'I hope I can make the mortgage payments every month.'"