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Dayton gives mic to Cottage Grove protester

Leon Moe of Cottage Grove was permitted by Gov. Mark Dayton to speak against a health care order that the Democratic governor signed Wednesday. Moe was at the Minnesota Capitol to protest Dayton's action when he was allowed to talk at the governor's lectern. Photo by Don Davis/State Capitol Bureau.

Cottage Grove resident Leon Moe is critical of federal health care expansion and on Wednesday was given a big platform to express that view.

Gov. Mark Dayton yielded his microphone to Moe and other protesters at a highly unusual ceremony during which the governor signed off on an expansion of the federal Medicaid program in Minnesota.

Democrat Dayton and his supporters spoke in favor of the move to broaden Medicaid, known as Medical Assistance in Minnesota, but in a rare move the governor also allowed vocal opponents to attend the ceremony and to comment.

Moe, who went to the Capitol to protest the action, said he was asked to speak. He believes the Medicaid action is unconstitutional.

"If you can show me anywhere in the Constitution where it says that Congress has the authority to legislate health care, let me know," Moe said to applause as he stood at Dayton's lectern and in the light of TV cameras.

Moe said he has received medical care from the Veterans Administration for 41 years.

"I totally understand what government health care is all about," he said. "I oppose this legislation."

Moe wore a sticker with the message: "Say no to Obamacare in Minnesota."

Nearly 100,000 more poor Minnesotans will receive government-funded health care under the program and Dayton said 20,000 health-care jobs will be saved. Democrats favor the expansion because more people will receive coverage, while Republicans, including former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, worry about costs to the state.

Dayton said it is "essential to providing better health care to all Minnesotans."

Dayton's plan to sign the executive order was publicized days in advance, drawing protesters to the ceremony. Events in the ornate reception room of the governor's state Capitol office traditionally only are open to journalists, staff, supporters and lawmakers.

"This is a public room," Dayton said. "This belongs to the people of Minnesota."

Some of the protesters were Tea Party members, but Moe says he is not part of that movement and instead considers himself a libertarian. He occasionally contributes letters to the editor of the South Washington County Bulletin.

Don Davis of the Forum Communications Co. State Capitol Bureau contributed to this story. The South Washington County Bulletin is owned by Forum Communications.

Scott Wente

Scott Wente has been editor at the South Washington County Bulletin since 2011. He worked as a reporter at other Forum Communications newspapers from 2003 to 2011.

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