Why I Oppose Amending the MN Constitution for Voter ID.

As an attorney, I feel compelled to speak up concerning the proposed Voter Identification Amendment to the Minnesota Constitution.  Putting aside the partisan political aspects of the issue for a moment, this is a bad idea.  Simple ideas sometimes have complex consequences, and in the case of voter id, the simple idea is both expensive and potentially harmful to our most sacred right as Americans.

The Minnesota Constitution was enacted in 1857.  Generally speaking, amendments to constitutions are made to accomplish things that cannot be done through the legislative process.  Unfortunately, this is not always the case in MN and the Voter Id Amendment is a prime example.   In the case of the Voter Id Amendment, some Legislators decided they had a law they wanted to pass, and rather than working the law through normal legislative channels which require the checks and balances of Executive Branch approval and judicial oversight, they are seeking to circumvent and embed the administrative practice of verifying a voter’s identity, not in the state statute or regulation, but into the state’s highest legal authority.  This is akin to the legislature deciding to put a 30 MPH speed limit into the Constitution and it is simply inappropriate.  Constitutions are documents meant to provide a framework for our governing system and to place restraints on government intrusions.  However, in the case of voter id, proponents are asking Minnesota citizens to shackle themselves to what is essentially an untested administrative procedure by including it in a document that requires a state wide vote in amend or modify.

A report from the University of Minnesota estimates that this unproven procedure for tackling a problem that is questionable at best, will cost local governments (the ones that raise property taxes) approximately sixty-three million dollars.  This is money that comes out of our pockets when local government funds are already short.  In order to implement the Amendment, entire new computer systems have to be built to handle provisional balloting, new id cards issued for thousands of people at no cost, new employees hired and training revised.   These things cost money, and in the event that the structure of this Constitutional regulation doesn’t work, instead of modifying it through legislative or regulatory process, our only means of change will be to wait for the legislature to once again place an amendment on the ballot at the next general election – this is simply not the way to do things.

When I think about the amendment, I also have to look at what it means for people’s right to vote.  While some say that voting is a privilege and it is not too much to ask for a photo, I say perhaps, but I do know that using a photo id isn’t necessarily fool-proof and without significant safeguards, requiring it may result in citizens losing out on one of their most fundamental privileges as citizens.  As of January 2012, 24,738 registered voters in Ramsey County do not have valid MN driver’s licenses or state issued ids — that’s roughly 9% of voters.  Presumably many of these folks with driver’s licenses may not have license that will comply with the Amendment or which will be difficult to use as verification of the holders identity.   Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you have a photo id?
  • Is your id issued by the state (not a private school, nursing home, employer, etc)?
  • Did you recently move and does your id have your current address?
  • If you recently married, does it have the right address and your current legal name?
  • Do you still look like that DMV photo (weight gain/ loss, hair color, etc)?

Now ask yourself if your friends, family members and neighbors have the same.   Problems are sure to arise with the proposed procedure.  By entombing this legislation in the Constitution, Minnesotans would be handcuffing themselves to a single method of accomplishing a goal and, ironically, restricting their own future ability to free themselves from problematic outcomes.

While we can debate whether requiring a photo id is needed and whether there is a real problem being solved, I have heard no real arguments as to why a constitutional amendment is the best way to address the issue.   While I don’t believe voter id laws are needed, I appreciate that concern for the integrity of the voting process; I just don’t think that the administrative procedures of verifying identity belong in our constitution.

Giant Steps 2011 – a day-long conference for entrepreneurial creatives.

From the folks at Giant Steps 2011

Dear Creative Minds and Brave Souls,

We are excited to officially open registration for Giant Steps 2011, a day-long interactive event for creative entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial creatives forging their own paths.

Giant Steps will inspire you, connect you with like-minded souls, and introduce you to valuable resources. Giant steps is where people in the know will exchange ideas and stories with people on the verge of their creative and entrepreneurial paths. Giant Steps is about creating a community and finding new ways of working. And Giant Steps believes a great day of connections and creativity is best finished with an amazing evening concert!

In the follow-up survey to last year’s Giant Steps, 83 % of the people rated their experience at Giant Steps 2010 an 8 out of 10 or higher, and 21 % rated it a 10 out of 10. We’re looking forward to building on that success and making this year’s event even better–with more stories, more connections, and more conversations about what works and what doesn’t in building a life based on doing what you love.

We’ve got new digs, too. This year’s event (daytime and evening) will be held at the world-famous Guthrie Theater. We’re excited to be surrounded by the combination of creative history, forward-thinking architecture, and the power of the mighty Mississippi.

You will want to be a part of Giant Steps if you are looking to advance your thinking, meet other creative thinkers and potential collaborators, and enhance your skills to move your work forward. Learn More!

When:  Friday, October 7th,  2011

Where: The Dowling Theater at the Guthrie, 818 South 2nd Street, Minneapolis, MN 55415

Plenaries and Workshops:  9:00 am to 5:30 pm

Happy Hour on the Endless Bridge:  5:30-7:30 pm

Evening Concert:  7:30-10:00 pm (in the Dowling Theater, with a cash bar)

Cost: $95 if you register before Sept 23rd (lunch, headshots, & evening concert are included) Register Now!

We’re bringing together inspiring Giants in many fields: creative entrepreneurs in design, artist activists and educators, technology software entrepreneurs who double as music promoters, chefs, photographers, musicians, consultants, and more. They’ll share their stories of how they got started, what’s worked and what hasn’t, and where they see ideas and possibilities for the future. This year’s event will feature a mix of new and returning speakers—including acclaimed photographer Wing Young Huie, Blu Dot COO Maurice Blanks, musician/actress/activist Maria Isa, playwright and performance artist May Lee-Yang, and many more.

There will also be workshops and panels to help you acquire the practical information and contacts you need add great value to your work–from information about alternative funding models , to discussions on more effective ways to promote and market your work, to legal and tax-related solutions. Become a part of this talented and forward-thinking community of Giants.   Register now!

To keep up-to-date on the list of speakers and other details about Giant Steps, be sure to “like” the Giant Steps Facebook page or follow Giant Steps on twitter.  Please help us to spread the word by sharing this information freely with your friends, colleagues, and any other Giants you may know.

We look forward to seeing you on October 7th!


Susan Campion, Founder of Camponovo Consulting

Kwame Tsikata (M.anifest), Artist

SPNN Workshop: Copyright Myths

When: Sat, March 5, 1pm – 3pm

Where: SPNN – 375 Jackson Street, Suite 250 Saint Paul, Minnesota 55101

Description: What is a copyright and how does it affect you as a video producer? Kenneth Kunkle of Kunkle Law Office will go over common questions creative people may have concerning copyright issues. Kenneth is a Minnesota lawyer and a graduate of Hamline University School of Law. Kenneth has been providing legal services to the Twin Cities business community, and focuses on issues affecting the technology, graphic and fine arts, and entertainment (music, film, and publishing) industries.

Cost: $25 for current members, $40 for non-members, $15 fimited income.

Call (651) 224-5153 for more information.

Hand-held Devices & Privacy: We Know What You Read, Bought, Watched, Ate and Emailed Last Summer – Are You Scared?

Is it a phone? An ebook reader? A video game controller? A credit card reader? An entertainment system? A medical device? A GPS navigator? A camera? A remote control? An email/social networking communication device? A news reader? Today’s hand-held devices are ALL of these and more. As hand-held devices such as smart phones and tablet computers serve more and more functions in our lives, they also collect more and more information about us. The separate laws and regulations that evolved in a world in which communication, entertainment and technology were fairly distinct areas will be increasingly stressed as devices cross these boundaries in new ways. Our expert panel will explore the current and future business opportunities and legal implications of these cutting-edge technologies. Join us for this joint session of MSBA sections, sponsored by the Computer & Technology Law Section, the Communications Law Section, and the Arts & Entertainment Law Section.

– Jamie Nafziger (Moderator), Dorsey & Whitney, LLP
– Kenneth Kunkle (Panelist), Kunkle Law, P.L.C.
– Dan Rosenberg (Panelist), Briggs & Morgan, P.A.
– Melissa Krasnow (Panelist), Dorsey & Whitney, LLP
– Jane Kirtley (Panelist), University of Minnesota School of Journalism & Mass Communication
1 hour of Standard CLE credit applied for


Date: Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Time: 11:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.
11:45 am – 12:15 pm Lunch will be served
12:15 pm – 1:15 pm CLE Program
Location: Dorsey & Whitney, LLP
50 South Sixth Street, Suite 1500 Minneapolis, MN 55402 [Directions/Map]


Section Members: Free
MSBA Members (But Not Art & Entertainment Law, Communications Law or Computer & Technology Law Section Members): $15.00
Law Students: Free
Non-MSBA Members: $20.00

Teleconferencing/webcasting is available. Please indicate this option when you register or contact Kim Basting at kbasting@mnbar.org

Cancellation Policy: Refunds will be processed for cancellation requests received in writing on or before noon on the registration deadline. Requests should be directed to the event contact person listed at the bottom of this notice. Cancellation requests received after this time are not eligible for refunds. You may send a colleague in your place if you are unable to join us and the registration deadline has passed.  Requests for an exception to this policy should be directed to Elyse Farnsworth, Section Services Director, by e-mail or at (612) 278-6336

Legal Muse as Top 25 MN Legal Blog

Legal Muse as Top 25 MN Legal Blog

Legal Muse is pleased to announce that the editors of practiceblawg.com have named Legal Muse as one of the state’s top legal blogs. Besides referencing my content and images, the editors noted the recent release of my microsite mntrademark.com. I am grateful for this acknowledgment and am honored to be in the company of some really excellent law firm blogs. It’s a great honor, but it really puts on the pressure going forward.

Attorneys as Artist’s Freind

The lawyer is often the butt of the joke or the object of the creative’s ire.  The reason cited is often that the attorney was a roadblock of that great idea.  As an attorney I can tell you that I understand why so many attorneys are viewed this way – I know that I sometimes feel like I am always delivering bad news – “no you can’t do that,” “if you do that there’s a risk you will get sued,”  “There’s no guarantee that you will be paid,” and on and on with warnings and ambiguous gray areas that seem so expansive that you wonder what value talking to the attorney actually brings you.  We don’t try to be spoilers, but on the other hand sometimes our role is be the reality check.  It easy to be blinded by a great idea and when you have a hundred great ideas and projects flowing from your imagination – some of which can lead to ruin OR success,or both simultaneously.   While the creative might be focused on how to make a project work, its the attorneys job to help them do so without hurting themselves legally.

The attorney is often looking at one of two things: how can we best position the client to achieve their goals, and how can we help them avoid risks.  The attorneys role in counseling clients to avoid legal errors seems obvious.  However, what people don’t understand (including some of the lawyers) is that this process is not about saying no to everything, it is about identifying issues and helping the client weigh the risks and prioritize them – not all issues are the same and some are of greater concern than others.  When talking with counsel don’t expect that they are making decisions for you – what might sound like an order is often the lawyer laying out the options for you.  Your attorney should be part of your team.  Use them early so that they can help with proactive planning.  If done right, you may be able to avoid costly errors that require reactive fixes.

Legal Issues When Using Social Media

Last Friday I had the honor of presenting a program on Social Media and the Law at the annual American Bar Association meeting in San Francisco which was written up by the American Bar Association Journal (Slander or Satire? When Does Social Media Cross Legal Lines?). Presenting with me was Marylee Abrams of Abrams and Schmidt and Heather Armstrong (dooce.com).

Ms. Armstrong provided background as one of the nation’s most prominent lifestyle bloggers and her history, which gave rise to the term “being dooced” as a phrase meaning that a person was fired for things they said or did in a blog or other social media, as well as current legal issues she faces being a paid endorser and copyright owner.

Marylee gave an excellent program on issues employers need to consider in this world of social media. Her program was recapped very well at ABA Online, and on Marylee’s blog.

I provided clean-up by discussing the things attorneys need to tell clients considering making social media a part of their marketing strategy. In short, I noted the need to counsel clients on the fact that they need to accept that they can not control their presence. – Rather the focus should be on managing their liability. Methods of managing the risk include: (1) education on legal issues, (2) standardized procedures, (3) insurance, and (4) contracts/terms of use. Over the course of the next few months I will post additional notes concerning each of these.

Twitter Bribe to Benefit Springboard

The gist: To benefit Minnesota Creatives, I will bribe the entire world to follow me on Twitter for $1 each.

I’ll also be drawing for 2 tickets to Springboard for the Arts’ Bounce Bash to benefit the Artists’ Access Healthcare program.

Here’s how this is going to work:

If I have 500 total followers by noon on June 25th, I will donate $250 to Springboard for the Arts. Follow me here: http://twitter.com/kunkle_law

For every follower (new or old) that sends out a tweet promoting Springboard and the Bounce Bash using the hashtag #bouncebash, I will enter them in a drawing for the tickets.

Not sure of what to say? Here’s the simple version for Twitter:

Kunkle_Law – Donating $1 to @Springboard #bouncebash per Twitter follower: http://muse.kunklelaw.com/

For more information on Springboard and the Bounce Bash go to: http://www.springboardforthearts.org/AboutUs/BounceBash.asp

If you are interested in doing more, please consider donating a few dollars directly to Springboard or coming down on the 25th to the Bounce Bash.

I hope you choose to participate and make a difference.


AIGA Solopreneurs breakfast event

From AIGA Minnesota Website. Sign-up available at the AIGA website. Event is Thursday, June 24, 2010.

Discover your entrepreneurial spirit and business desire. If freelancing or self-employment is in your future, this event will provide ideas, possibilities and insight. Join us for this special event, where a trio of speakers awaits your questions. Hear from Doug Powell, Principal, Schwartz Powell; Dan Woychick, Principal, Woychick Design; and Kenneth Kunkle, Kunkle Law PLC.

Kenneth Kunkle is a local attorney whose practice is focused on working with creative professionals. Blogging at muse.kunklelaw.com, Ken provides a wide field of knowledge in the areas of business, copyright and trademarks. His long history working in, and with, a variety of creative fields provides a unique understanding of creativity and the law. Ken will be discussing issues related to business structures, work for hire and independent contractor status. www.kunklelaw.com

Doug Powell − a designer, business strategist, entrepreneur, and curator of the blog Merge − will offer next steps to help you build your great new business ideas. Or maybe allow Doug’s inspiration to bust you out of a narrow way of working. He suggests the next generation of designers will have to find other ways of working, providing value and generating revenue. Learn tips to start and launch your design-driven business. www.schwartzpowell.com and mergedesignblog.com

Dan Woychick is a designer and creative strategist with over 20 years dedicated to helping non-profit organizations communicate more successfully. He has helped clients with brand identity and positioning, market research, and the design and production of print and electronic communications. Dan is experienced in building a network of collaborators, hiring employees, working from home and renting office space. He will share his thoughts on marketing yourself to find clients and focus your work. For more info, go to www.woychickdesign.com or read his blog, think + do: an exploration of non-profit marketing and design

Time: Doors open at 8:30 A.M.; Presentation from 9:00–10:30 A.M.