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Dan Burns

MN lege: To the session’s end, Part 4

by Dan Burns on May 25, 2017 · 0 comments

mncapitol2For some reason, people are huffy that the legislature has been missing its artificial “deadlines,” and legislators have a chance to actually carefully read and consider what they’re voting on, and people whose lives will be affected have opportunities to make their opinions known. I don’t see the big old calamitous problem with that.

After hanging around the Capitol all night Tuesday and not getting much done, legislators made some progress Wednesday afternoon and then took the night off.
Both the House and Senate voted on a tax cut bill and an education funding measure, but they still have to resolve some differences before sending them to the governor.
Other bills, including funding measures for health and human services and state departments, still need to be passed, and lawmakers still hope to pass a public works construction bill.
And as the House and Senate struggled to pass bills Wednesday, some DFL-leaning groups tried to put pressure on Gov. Mark Dayton to start over to try to get a better deal.

More on the education bill, which isn’t great to say the least, here, from Session Daily. Ditto on the transportation bill, here.
And more on some of those who are not pleased, from Twin Cities Daily Planet, here.


trump21I couldn’t resist the image at the right, but it’s not entirely accurate. Most Trump voters are not “clueless morons” in most areas of life. But when they voted they certainly were. Why so many suspend reason and common sense when it comes to politics, time and time again, does not admit of a quick and easy explanation, because human psychology is endlessly messy and complicated.

None of this should be a surprise. Trump is a coward. He says wildly offensive things when the objects of his derision aren’t around, but crumples when he actually meets them. In his presidential announcement speech, Trump called Mexican immigrants “rapists.” But when he sat down with his Hispanic Advisory Council, he proved “humble” and “conciliatory” and called mass deportations “neither possible nor humane.” During the campaign, he endlessly trashed Mexico’s government. But when he actually arrived in Mexico City last August, he declared the trip a “great, great, honor” and when President Enrique Peña Nieto asked him about his famous pledge to make Mexico pay for a wall between the two countries, Trump refused to discuss the subject. During the campaign, Trump accused Black Lives Matter of being responsible for the murder of police, and described African American living conditions as hellish. But when he actually showed up at a black church in Detroit last September, he spent most of his time flattering his hosts. Trump’s speech, noted The Washington Post, constituted a “jarring shift in tone and message.” During the campaign, Trump repeatedly claimed that China was manipulating its currency. But after meeting with China’s president, he acknowledged that was not true.
(The Atlantic)


MN lege: To the session’s end, Part 3

by Dan Burns on May 24, 2017 · 0 comments

mncapitol2What all is going to be signed into law probably during the next day or two has plenty that is bad, but could be a whole lot worse. Scant comfort. The St. Paul Pioneer Press has a good overall guide.

– Check out this nasty crap. The blockquote is typed from the article “$46B budget signed, not sealed” from this morning’s Minneapolis Star Tribune print edition, as I can’t seem to find that article online.

As part of the agreement with Dayton, Republicans kept the (pre-emption) measure out of their budget bills…
But to make the veto more painful, Republicans loaded the bill with other provisions that are important DFL priorities, including a measure to punish wage theft and another to provide paid sick and family leave for state workers, who already have the benefit but would lose it if Dayton does not sign the bill…
Dayton said…that he would honor his commitment and veto the bill anyway.

– Health and Human Services will see cuts. From that same Strib article:

To offset significant cuts to health and human services, Dayton and legislators agreed to dip into the Health Care Access Fund – funded by a 2 percent tax on medical providers that is scheduled to disappear in 2020.

– Tax cuts for the rich. More here. Probably everything noted in those two linked articles didn’t make it into the final package. But based on what we’re seeing now, at least much of it did.


There’s a lot more, of course. But for those whose ordinary human empathy and sense of fairness haven’t disappeared into extremes of right-wing motivated reasoning and cognitive rigidity, to try to put it all into one post would be overwhelming, and not in a good way.


MN lege: To the session’s end, Part 2

by Dan Burns on May 23, 2017 · 0 comments

Minnesota-State-CapitolThere is plenty that progressives are going to find out about that we are not going to like. But the profoundly unfortunate fact is that Republicans won the last election.

Minnesota legislators blasted past their midnight deadline Monday to get their work done — but will come back immediately to finish the job.
Forty-five minutes before their constitutionally mandated end of this year’s five-month legislative session, Republican legislative leaders joined with Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton to announce they had reached a deal on how much money to spend on tax cuts, transportation, health and human services and public schools…
The deal means a liberal Democratic governor looking to preserve state programs and his legacy and a newly powerful Republican legislative majority aiming to shift Minnesota to the right managed to agree on how to spend $46 billion over the next two years…

Dayton said he agreed to call lawmakers into special session just past the stroke of midnight. The agreement means they will have until Wednesday morning to approve a $990 million state building measure, an $18 billion school budget and around $14 billion for health and human services programs.
(Pioneer Press)

This one is from yesterday. It’s a mixed bag.

Additional dollars for the judiciary, tweaked language regarding the Appleton prison, and rulemaking related to driver’s licenses for undocumented residents are three of the high-profile items in the final version of the omnibus judiciary and public safety bill.
Missing is language related to freeway protestor penalties…
The Public Safety Department would be prohibited from using its rulemaking authority to issue driver’s licenses for undocumented residents.
“This is in place clearly — clearly — because there’s a mean spirit behind this,” said Rep. Raymond Dehn (DFL-Mpls). Rep. Karen Clark (DFL-Mpls) said the provision “smacks of injustice and, I’m afraid, it also smacks of racism.”
(Session Daily)


MN lege: To the session’s end, Part 1

by Dan Burns on May 22, 2017 · 0 comments

mncapitol2The Jobs and Economic Development bill that was sent to Gov. Mark Dayton is regarded by some as quite deficient.

Internet privacy was a popular idea earlier in the Minnesota legislative session — getting 200 of the 201 votes in previous votes in both the House and Senate.
Lawmakers didn’t want internet service providers to be able to sell information about their customers’ web browsing history.
But that provision didn’t make the final cut in the final jobs budget bill hammered out in the early hours Monday morning at the Capitol.

Rep. Tim Mahoney (DFL-St. Paul) said the bill was better than the previous proposal, but remains “totally underfunded.” He plans to recommend that the governor veto the measure for these reasons and because the bill did not address Internet privacy. “This could have been a better bill.”
Several policy provisions the governor objected to in the first jobs bill are now absent; remaining, however, is a measure that would prohibit local governments from enacting plastic, paper or reusable bag bans. DFLers called out this provision as an example of the state standing in the way of local authority.
They also lamented the time crunch between when the report was made public at 6:10 a.m. and when they were called on to cast their vote after the House went into session at 8 a.m.
“We are in the part of the session known as the ‘Shove it down your throat if we can’t make a deal on bills phase,’” said House Minority Leader Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park). She said it is a stretch to say the agreement represents a compromise with the administration. “To pretend that everything in this bill was agreed to by the Dayton administration is just not true.”
(Session Daily)

There’s more here, from MPR, about the energy parts of the bill.


minnesota_state_capitolWith the end of the regular legislative session at the end of today, some things have been getting through. So far, while nothing’s perfect, the Party of Trump is for the most part not getting its way.

Higher fees for hunting and fishing licenses are in and major changes to the buffer law are out as the House voted 83-51 to pass the omnibus environment and natural resources finance conference committee report late Sunday night.
(Session Daily)

The reworked Legacy bill got bipartisan support.

The Higher Ed “compromise” may not yet be up to snuff, to get Gov. Mark Dayton’s signature.

The Omnibus Elections bill does not include the vote-suppression measures that had been sought by Republicans, led by Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer (R-Big Lake).

Also, no “backdoor vouchers.”

But Republicans were forced to give on a big priority: a plan for tax credits to people and companies who donate to private school scholarships for low-income children.

I’ll keep you posted.


paulsenTrumpcare passed the U.S. House, by two votes. The vote of the allegedly thoughtful “moderate” Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN) was one of those that put it over the top. Reaction was swift and vehement. An op-ed subsequently appeared with his name on it. What a sniveling, impudent load of crap.

The bill empowers states to better design health care plans that meet the needs of their citizens. It provides a portable tax credit to assist Americans who do not receive coverage from an employer in purchasing health insurance. It enhances and expands the use of consumer-driven health care accounts, such as Health Savings Accounts, and it once and for all repeals the harmful medical device tax.
It is also important to point out what is not in this bill. Nothing in this bill would allow an insurance company to deny someone coverage, including to those with a preexisting condition. Nothing would allow an insurance company to cancel someone’s insurance policy should they become sick. Despite claims from opponents, the bill does not classify sexual assault as a preexisting condition. For those who maintain continuous coverage, the bill does not allow insurance companies to charge an individual more simply because they have a preexisting condition. It’s also worth noting that this bill includes $138 billion to assist states in making sure everyone, including those with preexisting conditions, has access to high-quality, affordable health care?
(Star Tribune)

– Where is your typical family these days, living paycheck to paycheck and way in debt, supposed to get money for “Health Savings Accounts?”


schoolsA few items.

But it isn’t just rural Americans who oppose vouchers. Polls have shown that opposition to voucher schemes is widely shared by Americans across the board. Phi Delta Kappa, an international organization for professional educators, regularly polls Americans to get their opinions on vouchers. Polls have shown opposition to vouchers ranging from 57 percent to as high as 70 percent.
More tellingly, Americans in rural, urban and suburban areas have voted against vouchers repeatedly at the ballot box. Since the 1960s, vouchers (or similar plans) have appeared on ballots in several states as referendum questions. All have been defeated, usually by wide margins.
(Diane) Ravitch, in her speech to the Friends of Texas Public Schools, said aside from the negative educational and financial implications of voucher schemes, there’s a social and civic impact as well.
“A public school brings people together. A public school is a place where people learn democracy. For many people, it’s the first opportunity they have to work together with their neighbors toward a common goal. To work together on behalf of their shared goals for their children.



I don’t think at this point that Pr*sident Trump’s abysmal public standing is mostly about his horrific policies, though it should be. Rather, even conservatives expect the President of the United States of America to display some measure of dignity and class. Because Trump is possessed of nary a smidgen of either, but is rather the ultimate lout and buffoon…you get the point.


minnesota_state_capitolI gotta tell you all, righteous people, thank goodness for the NSPI. I haven’t checked closely, but I strongly suspect that most of this state’s corporate media is pretty much just repeating the Party of Trump’s claims on this, verbatim.
(I purposely limited the blockquote, so you have to click to see the chart, and may as well read the rest while you’re there. It is most enlightening. A definitive example of how right-wingers, shall we say, “manipulate” facts, in a case like this by relying on the cumulative effect of many small misrepresentations, rather than one or two big ones that are more likely to send up red flags. And how that is rarely noted with any prominence in corporate media.)

A recent chart from the Republican Party of Minnesota, reproduced below, purports to show that Minnesota’s general fund budget is growing about 12 percent faster than the state’s economy and about 25 percent faster than the rate of inflation from 2012 to 2017. The information in that graph is, however, generally inaccurate…
The bottom line is that the first five bars in the GOP chart, shown to contrast with spending growth, are off-base — and most of them woefully so. Because the height of each of these bars is significantly to dramatically understated, the effect of the chart exaggerates projected state spending growth relative to the factors represented by these bars.
Of course, no mention is made of what was accomplished with the increased state spending since 2012, including a halt to the decade long decline in real per pupil E-12 funding, the establishment of statewide all-day kindergarten, targeted property tax relief and an expansion of the Working Family Credit that contributed to a significant reduction in Minnesota tax regressivity, increases in funding for higher education that helped to stem the tide of soaring tuition, increased funding for county and city services to replace a portion of the state aid that was cut over the preceding ten years, and other investments in affordable housing and health care—all achieved without an increase in the effective tax rate paid by most middle-income Minnesotans.
(North Star Policy Institute)