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State Auditor Rebecca Otto on her farm.  (Pioneer Press: Jean Pieri)

State Auditor Rebecca Otto on her property in Marine on St. Croix on Friday, January 8, 2016. (Pioneer Press: Jean Pieri)

Here’s why: All the available data strongly indicates that Otto will beat all the other contenders across state in the upcoming Governor’s race.

 

Democrats have two major problems to face in 2018 and beyond. First, how do we win elections? Second, how do we remain true to our progressive and liberal roots?

 

For Democrats, 2018 is a must-win election, and Minnesotans have a lot at stake. Will the state remain the shining star of the North, or will it go the way of Wisconsin, and sink into a Republican dark age of union busting, environment polluting, professor bashing, service slashing, and economic activity destruction?

 

Of all the candidates running or suspected of running for Governor in 2018, Rebecca Otto is the only one who can most clearly win and at the same time preserve and advance core, human based, Democratic ideals, in my opinion.

 

The smart move for the DFL in 2018 is to turn to a candidate that has won several times statewide and has strong name recognition, positive feeling among the voters engendered by her commitment to widely held values, and a strong base of support. State Auditor Rebecca Otto is the only candidate with that resumé. Otto has racked up several historic victories, including the largest upset of an incumbent in 112 years, and is positioned to do it again in 2018. Her statewide electoral prowess far outstrips her nearest competitor, Tim Walz, who is largely unknown outside of his first district, and is untested statewide. Beyond that, Otto stands for strong for Democratic values, while Walz has shown himself to be a DINO-style Democrat. Walz enjoys a very high rating from the NRA, for example, and in February of 2013 was one of only six Democrats in Congress to vote to expand gun sales to the severely mentally ill, over the objections of senior generals including David Petraeus, Michael Hayden and Stanley McChrystal.

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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)

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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.
(MPR)

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.
 

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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)

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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.
(MPR)

I’ll keep you posted.
 

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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?”
 
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American Progressive Party: An Introduction

by American Progressive Party on May 18, 2017 · 0 comments

(Administrator’s note: This brief item appeared in our community diaries, a few days ago. Check it out, or not, as you like.)
 
Hello Progressive Minnesotans! I’d like to introduce us. We are the American Progressive Party and have made it our mission to help those in states without a Progressive Party start one. Let us know what we can do to help you.
 

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The final scrum in St. Paul

by JeffStrate on May 16, 2017 · 0 comments

DFL strategist/consultant Darin Broton and DFL statesman Tim O’Brien take measure of the coming proceedings at the Minnesota Capitol.  The legislators need to finish their work come Monday May 22.  But it’s never over until its over when the special session remains an option.  This Broton/O’Brien discussion is an exclusive, on-line, Democratic Visions Channel presentation.

 

Democratic Visions is hand made by unpaid lefty volunteers from Edina, Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, Hopkins and Bloomington. Our program is not financially supported or endorsed by any political party, political action committee or special interest group.

 

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SWLRT: Spring 2017 Update

by JeffStrate on May 15, 2017 · 0 comments

 

The new edition of Democratic Visions features an update on the funding status of Southwest Light Rail (SWLRT) from local sources and the Federal Transportation Administration. It’s complicated, but Met Council Member and public transit champion Jennifer Munt makes it understandable. Munt represents Met Council Dist. 3 which includes west metro cities in the Lake Minnetonka area including Eden Prairie and Minnetonka through which the Green Line extension and its passenger stations will be built.

 

I here share a few thoughts of my own. The snippy cult of opponents to the Southwest Light Rail project, based along what had been a freight rail line and switching yard between Cedar Lake and Lake of the Isles (Minneapolis), with its nuisance environmental law suit continues to generate copy for MinnPost and the StarTribune. The NIMBYs, some of whom are, reportedly, influential Democrats, are encouraged by Republican legislators including House Speaker Kurt Daudt, Senate President Michelle Fischbach, and transportation committee chairs Paul Torkelson, Linda Runbeck and Scott Newman. For their own purposes, these GOPers have deceitfully re-branded SWLRT into a wedge issue about the cost of light rail, funding priorities and urban/rural inequity. Their shenanigans have generated even more copy at MinnPost and The Strib whose news and editorial sections love to show renderings of various plans of the new bridge that will cross the channel between Lake of the Isles and Cedar Lake.  It’s as if Southwest Light Rail has no other importance.  Here’s one of those renderings.

One of several design plans that have been considered or the light rail transit bridge in the Kenilworth Corridor.

One of several design plans that have been considered for the light rail transit bridge in the Kenilworth Corridor.

Would that the photo editors at the StarTribune and MinnPost select other SWLRT images.  There are scores of them: stations, bridges, parking ramps and landscaping plans along the alignment through Minneapolis, St. Louis Park, Hopkins, Minnetonka and Eden Prairie. Believe it or not, the Green Line Extension beyond the Kenilworth Corridor actually edges North Minneapolis and penetrates job rich centers in the south west ‘burbs.  But maybe selecting images from a Met Council or city website on a desktop or laptop is really, really difficult, maybe even exhausting.  But maybe not.   I found these pics earlier today in about 15 minutes.

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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)

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