Alliance for a Better Minnesota, a progressive political organization, said its political tracker was improperly kicked out of a public legislative meeting in Burnsville on property taxes organized by Rep. Steve Drazkowski, a Republican from Mazeppa.
Drazkowski, chair of the House Committee on Property Tax and Local Government Finance Division, however said the reason the tracker was kicked out was because there was not enough space at the Burnsville restaurant where the meeting was hosted.
"These events are always open to the public, but unfortunately space was tight at the Burnsville gathering," he said in a statement. "In the future, we will look to hold these listening sessions at venues that are able to accommodate much larger crowds.”
Emily Bisek, spokeswoman for the progressive group, said that the tracker, who was carrying video recording equipment, was not told the problem was a lack of space. She said Drazkowski told the group's tracker that the event was not public.
Drazkowski has organized listening sessions throughout the state seeking public comments on property taxes.
Billed as informal listening sessions, the meetings last week attracted criticism from Minority Leader Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, on the House floor who said they raised questions about transparency and asked Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, to clarify whether official business would be conducted.
Daudt said the listening sessions were informal even though other committee members would attend and that no official business would be conducted.
Two meetings, though, were later made official, according to the committee's calendar. Those meetings were Thursday in Stewartville and Saturday in Albert Lea. Minutes from those meetings were approved Wednesday morning and will be posted publicly, a spokesman for the House GOP caucus said.
Details of the Burnsville meeting, sponsored by newly-elected Rep. Roz Peterson, R-Lakeville, were distributed from Peterson's official email account and described the meeting as a "Property Tax Hearing."
A request for an interview with Peterson and Drazkowski was declined.