Even as a committee chairman, you can't always get what you want.
Case in point from this past session: the perennial issue of the Dan Patch commuter rail line, subject of bulging veins and pounding tables year after year.
As an ordinary backbencher, Shakopee Republican Mike Beard expressed frustration over his inability to get his fellow lawmakers to reverse their prohibition, enacted a decade or so ago, on any planning or even official mention of possible planning for a line from Northfield to Minneapolis through Scott County.
This session, all that had to change, right? He finally was chair of Transportation Policy and Finance.
Not so fast.
"On that issue," he reported from his sunny back deck a day or two after the session ended, "I wasn't fighting any urban liberal friends, but my own conservative friends, and in particular one of them who's up the food chain from me."
He didn't attach a name, but the bill's official legislative history suggests it might have been Lakeville Republican Mary Liz Holberg, chairwoman of Ways and Means.
"Dan Patch is a very controversial idea," Holberg said. "People fail to go back to a study around 2000 that showed it was a total loser at that time. And then, there was no busway project. You actually have a situation now where you have a parallel commuter corridor in which investments [in the hundreds of millions of dollars for the Cedar Avenue and Interstate 35W busways] have been made, so ridership numbers, et cetera, would be even more depressed and the cost-benefit even uglier. The reality is, it's just not me who's against it. I can tell you, all along the line, Edina, Bloomington, even south Minneapolis, people are concerned. Did I oppose it, yes, I always have, but there's a whole slew of us all the way up the line."
A good many of Beard's elected colleagues in Scott County, however, are fans. Beard stresses that he's "not necessarily an advocate for commuter rail or rail transit. But the inability even to consider it is bad governance. We must never mention its name? Oh, for the love of Pete."