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Dan Burns

What the Ryan Budget would mean for Minnesota

by Dan Burns on April 17, 2014 · 6 comments

Seriously, people, seriously, both Rep. John Kline (R-MN) and Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN) voted for the “Ryan Budget.” Both are of course up for reelection this year. The following is from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. (I know that “Tax Day” was in fact a couple of days ago.)


How to tell if a poll is an outlier

by Dan Burns on April 16, 2014 · 2 comments

questionmarkIt just so happens that we have excellent real-world examples, contained in a poll of Minnesotans recently conducted by SurveyUSA for KSTP. SUSA is among the most accurate pollsters, cycle after cycle. But in this game, even the best sometimes miss.
A fundamental rule of public polling, arguably the #1 rule, is that if numbers are way out of line with everybody else‘s, they’re wrong. There are three prime examples, here.
- Obama job approval: 36% approve, 54% disapprove. The current national average is about 44% job approval, and that’s where it’s been for quite a while. It doesn’t make sense that blue Minnesota would have him down in George W. Bush territory.

- Marijuana legalization: 29% approve, 64% disapprove. I’m not suggesting Minnesota is pro-full legalization at this time. For one thing, the drug is simply not as popular here as in many other states, especially on the coasts. But, again, way out of whack with the national numbers, which are pretty regularly around 50/50, or even slight majority approval, these days.

- Obamacare: 33% approve, 54% disapprove. Note that the question is worded a little differently than straight up/down. That goes for the marijuana question, too. Anyway, that too is well into the double-digits below the approval levels expressed in other polling. The biggest problem here, though, is readily identifiable: like much Obamacare polling, there is no identification among disapproves, between those who want the law repealed, and those who want it strengthened, in the direction of universal single-payer. When that is explored, you get 2-1 overall support. (The relevant bar graph is near the bottom.)

It’s OK to use common sense, when evaluating poll results. Also, if numbers diverge widely from what else is out there, for no apparent reason, it’s not conspiracy theory time. The occasional outlier is inevitable, with statistical sampling. If you flip a coin 50 times every morning, just for the heck of it, once in a while you’re going to get a split of, say, 35-15 or greater. And if you do a lot of sampling for public polling on the questions of the day, sometimes you’re going to get a skewed (in this case, to the right) sample.
Obviously, if polling yet to be done also shows numbers like these, then these examples are not outliers, after all. But that seems unlikely.


minwageYesterday, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton signed the new minimum wage bill into law. This sort of thing is popular everywhere. But several public figures – who have already rendered themselves exceedingly tiresome, and we yet have months of campaign season before us – have run their mouths in predictable ways.

At least three Republican gubernatorial candidates — Kurt Zellers, Dave Thompson, and Jeff Johnson — assert they have near-absolute power to stop indexing annually, if elected. One economist says forecasting is uncertain enough to make that possible. If so, indexing would effectively disappear during GOP administrations.

The remainder of the indisputably motley crew that are the GOP gubernatorial hopefuls, Marty Seifert and Scott Honour, have apparently held their tongues, on this matter. All five candidates previously expressed opposition to any minimum wage increase.
If Minnesota was in a lot of trouble, economically and/or otherwise, then pandering to the base just might be enough to get a GOPer elected governor this November (it nearly was in 2010). But it’s not. Far from it. We’ll see whether any of the Republicans are able and willing to become cognizant of that.

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mndistrictsBy which I mean, both of Tom Emmer’s opponents have indicated that they will go on to the August 12 primary election, at least.

Republican activists in Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District gave Tom Emmer a resounding endorsement in the race to succeed U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann.
Emmer and Anoka County Board chair Rhonda Sivarajah vied for the endorsement of party delegates Saturday at the 6th District GOP convention at Monticello High School…
(Phil) Krinkie, the longtime president of the Taxpayers League of Minnesota, had (also) been seeking the Republican endorsement in the 6th District race. He changed course Wednesday, saying he wouldn’t attend the convention or seek the endorsement there. Krinkie said a third-party run is possible for his campaign, but that a run in the Republican primary is his most likely avenue.
(St. Cloud Times)

That third-party deal is interesting. Constitution Party? Maybe. Independence Party? Guess not; it has a candidate, John Denney. Pirate Party? Nah, not Phil.

We see campaigns continuing, after all realistic hope appears to have been lost, all the time. It’s tough to call it quits after all the work a candidate – and, perhaps more compelling, a candidate’s volunteers – put in. But in this case it seems like more is going on. Sivarajah and Krinkie, like a lot of us, probably still feel like there’s a very real chance that Emmer will screw up, big time, because that’s the kind of guy he is. And they plan to be there when it happens.


pollyannaIt is not my intent to go all Pollyanna, here. I am well aware that at the federal level, especially when it comes to control of the United States Senate, things are going to be tough. But, since even in the left blogosphere one doesn’t readily run across items that are not all doom and gloomy, these days, I’m passing one along.

This poll gives Democrats a seven-point lead, giving us a better than even chance to retake the chamber. But notice the massive “unsure.” Part of that comes from the fact that this is a poll of all adults, not just registered voters. In fact, about a quarter of the sample didn’t vote in 2012, so we can safely assume they won’t vote in 2014 either. (We can also assume that a chunk of 2012 voters won’t vote this year, weighed heavily among our core base groups. For example, 25-34 year-olds favor Democrats 40-15. Too bad too many of them will sit things out. As always, if we turn out, we win, but I digress.)
Regardless, we’re in good shape with those who express an intent to vote this November.
(Daily Kos)

Am I really all brimming with confidence that D+7 is spot-on, right now? Of course not. But Google Consumer Surveys did have a good year in 2012, when it launched. And in fact (and though you almost certainly have not seen this noted anywhere in corporate media), polling averages in generic House ballots have consistently favored Democrats, albeit not by enough to make a real difference. Not yet.


mncapitolI admit to having been skeptical that legislation as far-reaching, and excellent, as this, would get far. But not any more. 106-24! Right on!

After nearly four hours of debate Wednesday, the House passed the so-called “Women’s Economic Security Act” on a 106-24 vote…
“This is about economic security for working families and lifting women out of poverty,” said Rep. Carly Melin (DFL-Hibbing), who sponsors the bill in the House. “This bill will strengthen the workplace for all workers.”
This bill has seen many supporters throughout the session, but also opposition from those who say the bill moves women backward by assuming that women can’t take care of themselves and need the government to assist them.
(Session Daily)

I’m not going to go off on the last part of the blockquote. I’m sure most – indeed, probably all – people reading this have ample knowledge already, of where the heads of the bill’s opponents are at.
This website has it all.

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GOP fun, DFL potential in MN 35A

by Dan Burns on April 9, 2014 · 0 comments

1422522_10152758256212355_1666782960_nFirst of all, Peter Perovich is our candidate (website apparently still being built), in this north metro district. This is Rep. Jim Abeler’s (R-Anoka) beat, now; he’s running for the U.S. Senate, though his campaign seems to be getting minimal footing. In any case, he’s leaving his legislative seat.

The reasons for some optimism here, in this R+6 district, are, first, the general demographic drift of the suburbs in progressives’ favor (some more slow and fitful than others, but real, nonetheless), and, second, a sweet little GOP primary battle that seems to be shaping up.

Again, with (Justin) Boals’ ABC Newspapers’ March 22 candidacy reporting, (i.e., following (Abigail) Whelan’s endorsement earlier in March), it appears there will be a Republican primary we all should watch, as each of the two attempts to present himself/herself as the more traditional GOP person; (conservative to a fault, Christian to that bloc’s litmus tests); while perhaps trying a fence straddle to not appear too extreme for the general election if prevailing in a primary vote.
(Developers Are Crabgrass)

In other words, Boals jumped in, as a Republican, after Whelan was endorsed by the GOP. Both are politically hard-line evangelical conservatives. The linked article has more on each.


The Resistance

by Dan Burns on April 8, 2014 · 0 comments

abanschoolNo commentary, from me, except to note that in the following excerpt “Status Quo” means the public education deformer movement.

The so-called reformers have honed their PR message well. They couldn’t very well go to the public and say “with the help of some Wall Street billionaires and foundations run by billionaires, we have come to demolish your community’s schools and hand them over to corporations.” That wouldn’t play well. So they sold their goals as “reform,” even as they used the power of the federal government through No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top to close community public schools, to demean the teaching profession, and to make pie-in-the-sky promises about the wonders of choice. George Wallace, Strom Thurmond, and other segregationists of their generation – the 1950s and 1960s – must be laughing in their graves to hear our “reformers,” even our Secretary of Education, proclaiming the glories of school choice…
What do we call the millions of parents and teachers, principals, superintendents, school board members, and researchers who fight for democratic control of education? The Resistance.
We cannot be bought off or intimidated. We know that the strategies and mandates of the Status Quo have failed wherever they were tried. We fight for our children. We fight for democracy. We oppose segregation, budget cuts, high-stakes testing, closing public schools, rating teachers by student test scores, and labeling children by test scores. We will resist their bad ideas. We will resist their efforts to destroy public education. We will resist privatization. We will fight for a better future for all the children of our nation. We will not allow the Status Quo to monetize what belongs to all of us.
(Diane Ravitch)

Well, a little commentary. I’m not so concerned about whether we‘re called “The Resistance,” or whatever. I’m passing this along because it’s a tremendously succinct and effective encapsulation, from somebody who probably knows what’s really going down better than anyone.


MN cruelty mill bill makes it to House floor

by Dan Burns on April 7, 2014 · 0 comments

ATT00943-20120420120927The MN Dog and Cat Breeder Regulation Bill has been folded into the House Finance Omnibus Bill. The package bill is scheduled for full House debate, and hopefully passage, this week. I’ve seen no indication that any crude reactionaries are planning to try to weaken or remove the proposed cruelty prevention legislation. But you never know.

I found a great website, animalfolksmn, and am linking this page headed “Minnesota: weak laws.” People have been trying for a long time to get this dealt with. The current bill has a real chance. It isn’t perfect; it had to be watered down somewhat to get through the Ag Committees, but it’s far, far better than nothing.

A convenient place to track the legislation is the Clean Up MN Puppy Mills Facebook page.


Minnesota will raise minimum wage

by Dan Burns on April 7, 2014 · 4 comments

4469683230_236dcc9d4cI think most people believed that something would get done. I am heartened that the indexing remains.

Minnesota’s legislative Democrats have struck a deal to raise the wages of the state’s lowest paid workers.
Monday morning, House Speaker Paul Thissen, House Majority Leader Erin Murphy, Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, along with key negotiators of the minimum wage measure will announce they’ve come to agreement. The Star Tribune has been told by two sources with the knowledge of the deal that it would hike the wage to $9.50 an hour and would link future increases to increases in inflation.
“I feel really good,” said Deputy Senate Majority Leader Jeff Hayden, a Minneapolis DFLer who had long worked on the minimum wage issue. “I think there are going to be a tremendous amount of smiles (tomorrow.)”
(Star Tribune)

People can say what they will, but there is no way that this didn’t have plenty to do with the proposed new Senate office building, beloved of Senate leadership, making it through a critical House committee and apparently headed for passage as well. A legislative pay raise is also in the works. So be it.