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imagesqtbnANd9GcRhlLTHok0fDiQpsx_IVQRQg-lVMpygkf1rEyJsns1mZT-bzjRXNo one cuts through Party of Trump bulls*it in Minnesota – and uncritical corporate media amplification of it – like the outstanding North Star Policy Institute.
 

Exempting Social Security income from the state income tax—even if it is somehow targeted to households with incomes under $120,000, as promotional material released by Senate conservatives suggests—is likely to benefit higher income seniors. That’s because low- and middle-income seniors are already paying little or no tax on their Social Security income because the first $32,000 of this income is already exempt and only a portion of the income above $32,000 is taxed on a sliding income-sensitive scale. Based on 2012 data, sixty percent of Social Security recipients already pay no tax on their Social Security income; the forty percent that pay any tax on Social Security income tend to be of relatively high income…
 
The second main feature of the conservative Senate tax plan is to reduce the state business property tax levy. A portion of this reduction—the exemption of the first $100,000 of taxable value—at least has the benefit of directing a sizeable share of the tax relief to the smaller businesses, as noted in a recent North Star article, but the elimination of the annual inflation adjustment to the state business property tax will direct the overwhelming bulk of tax relief to extremely high value businesses, with the top one percent of businesses by value getting 30.5 percent of the tax relief, while the bottom 75 percent of businesses by value get only 14 percent of the relief. In future biennia, the cost of eliminating the inflation adjustment is likely to grow rapidly and quickly surpass the amount of relief given through exempting the first $100,000 of value.
(North Star Policy Institute)

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Gov. Dayton vetoes GOP assault on renewables

by Dan Burns on March 21, 2017 · 0 comments

solar2The Minnesota Party of Trump in the legislature has been pressing ahead with a radical-right agenda, despite what’s going down with their hero in the White House. Thankfully, in this state there is a remaining check and balance. From yesterday:
 

Since late January, Bluestem has chronicled the problems with HF234 in posts like “Are King Coal’s foxes to guard the co-op? HF234 would leave rural utility customers on defense” and “From our friends at CURE: tell Governor Mark Dayton: veto bill, protect solar in Minnesota.”
 
We are pleased as are so many friends that the governor chose to veto the bill today.
(Bluestem Prairie)

I’m adding some items that I’ve had sitting in my “environment” file for a while.
 

A five kilowatt rooftop solar installation now costs just $12,500 on average after tax credits, and pretty soon, installing one might soon be a matter of re-tiling your roof. Whether it’s right for you, however, depends in large part on how much sun your house gets. That’s where Google’s Project Sunroof comes in — launched just two years ago, it has now surveyed over 60 million US buildings in 50 states. That means there’s a good chance you can see the electricity production potential in your city, neighborhood and even specific house.
 
Google calculates the amount of sunlight on your roof based on “3D modeling of your roof and nearby trees,” weather patterns, the position of the sun in the sky during the year and shade from buildings, trees and other obstructions. That info is then converted to energy production “using industry standard models for solar installation performance,” Google says.
 
The results are surprising: 79 percent of all US rooftops are solar viable, meaning they have enough unshaded area for solar panels. Obviously, some regions are better than others — over 90 percent of homes in Hawaii, Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico are technically viable, but even northern states like Pennsylvania, Maine and Minnesota are over 60 percent. Houston, Texas has the most solar potential of any US city, with 18.9 gigawatt-hours of total power generation capability if all roofs had solar panels.
(engadget)

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minnesota_state_capitolMaybe the GOP legislature could use some of the budget surplus to help out “school kids or senior citizens, the disability community” instead of looking to blow big chunks of it, yet again, on handouts for the rich man.
 

House Speaker Kurt Daudt said Tuesday he is having legislative legal and human resources staff examine whether a hefty pay raise for lawmakers is truly binding or if the Legislature can summarily turn it down.
 
The raise takes lawmaker salaries from about $31,000 to $45,000 beginning in July, a 45 percent jump that the Legislative Salary Council framed as a catch-up for years of stagnant pay…
 
“Think about if this is binding on us, it means I have to give, or we have to give legislators a pay increase when we can’t give that same kind of pay increase to school kids or senior citizens, the disability community, you pick your interest group that is frankly deserving of some increase,” Daudt said. “That’s the tough position it puts us in.”
(MPR)

In recent years, the low pay has made it more likely that people able and willing to be in the legislature have been financially independent, or retirees with solid pensions. That group on the whole tends to be conservative Republicans. Reasonable compensation could well produce higher interest in running among eager, high-energy, and just generally smart and impressive young progressives, and that is Daudt’s real concern.
 
The right-wing likes of Speaker Daudt have no idea how readily intelligent people see right through them. One sees manifestations of that all the time, among conservative politicians.
 
Comment below fold.
 
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ottertaillakeriverinletDespite the reality of what’s happening to Minnesota’s waters, many people just will not face the crying need for things like buffers. And now the Minnesota Party of Trump wants to revert entirely, by whatever means.
 

– H.F. 167 (Green): Eliminates buffer rule.
– S.F. 465 (Draheim)/H.F. 1859 (Miller): Delays the buffer rule for two more years.
– H.F. 684 (Backer): Prevents enforcement of the buffer law until/unless local governments approve of buffer maps first.
– H.F. 776 (Backer): Formally exempts all public water wetlands and most smaller streams from buffer rule.
– S.F. 938 (Westrom)/H.F. 683 (Backer): Two-year buffer delay, and prevents enforcement unless taxpayers pay 100% of buffer installation.
– S.F. 835 (Draheim)/H.F. 1858 (Miller): Buffers are not required unless/until local seed is available for planting the buffers.
– S.F. 1693 (Westrom)/H.F. 1994 (Torkelson): Similar to H.F. 1466 DE2; bars local enforcement, redefines public waters needing a buffer, delays the deadline for remaining buffers by one year, prohibits any enforcement of the buffer law unless public funding covers 100% of the cost of establishing and maintaining all buffers.
(Friends of the Mississippi River) (Follow that and then click on an action link to see the list.)

And this is from an email I got from Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light.
 

SENATE
 
SF141: Creates barriers for solar by increasing the power of co-op utilities and stripping the Public Utilities Commission of regulatory authority.
SF214: Eliminates a pro-solar program that has been an important driver of jobs and innovation in renewable energy.
 
HOUSE
 
HF1291: Eliminates the state’s Environmental Quality Board — at a time when the board’s oversight should be strengthened.
HF1377: Restricts the options available to homeowners for financing energy improvement projects.

I’m sure there are plenty more, but you get the point. I suspect that a significant part of how many strokes Minnesota’s Republican legislators get from ALEC is based on the sheer number of bulls*it bills that they introduce.
 

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MN lege: Preemption bill rolls through House

by Dan Burns on March 3, 2017 · 0 comments

stopwaronworkersThe Minnesota Party of Trump behaved as anticipated, yesterday.
 

The debate over higher wages and paid sick time won’t end with Thursday night’s vote by the Minnesota House, workers said. They vowed to keep organizing – all the way to the ballot box.
 
The House voted 76-53 to pass a preemption bill that bars local governments from adopting measures to improve workplaces. It included a provision to retroactively rescind the earned sick and safe time ordinances passed by the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, depriving 150,000 people of paid leave when they are ill or need to care for a loved one.
 
The Republican-controlled Senate still must vote on the bill before it can go to Governor Mark Dayton, who is likely to veto it.
(Workday Minnesota)

This doesn’t really matter in practical terms in the big picture, but I often see the term “hypocrisy” used in the context of issues like this. After all, Republicans are supposedly the party of “less big government,” and letting people decide for themselves, right?
 
My old paperback Merriam Webster Dictionary (not the one I had in college, not that old, but not far from it) defines hypocrisy thusly:
 

A feigning to be what one is not or to believe what one does not; esp : the false assumption of an appearance of virtue or religion

“Feigning” implies some degree of conscious realization that your words and actions are not consistent.
 
For me, a good example of hypocrisy would be claiming that you’d rather nibble on “designer dark chocolate” than stuff your face with Hershey bars, because nobody would really rather do that, and we all know it. But often people honestly are just so messed up in their heads, so utterly bereft of any connection to fact and reason in the matter of their socio-political opinions, that they have become simply incapable of apprehending, even a tiny bit, when their actions don’t match their words – indeed, quite the opposite.
 
So, to my mind, when right-wing legislators pull atrocious crap like this it doesn’t really qualify as hypocrisy. And maybe the distinction does matter a little, as it helps to understand what really goes on in right-wing “minds.” You’re not going to shame them into better behavior with charges of being “hypocrites,” because they honestly do not get that they are engaging in these massive disconnects between what they claim to be about, and how they really act. They absolutely are that far gone in their delusional bubbles. It’s called “cognitive rigidity.”
 

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66758002I got an email from the Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota Action Fund which alerted me to the following.
 

(Wednesday) afternoon, Minnesota House Republicans heard a health care reinsurance bill (HF1128) that relies on junk science and misinformation to reduce access to contraception by miscategorizing IUDs and Emergency Contraception as “abortifacients.” This couldn’t be further from reality.

 
Here’s the online front page for HF1128, which appears to be part of the Minnesota Party of Trump’s effort to “repeal and replace” the ACA/MNsure in the state. The noted language is on the bill text page, lines 8.26-8.31. The email includes this link, debunking the “abortifacients” claim.
 
On the same general topic, this is well worth clicking and reading.
 

The anti-choice myth that community health centers could easily fill in for Planned Parenthood if the reproductive health-care provider loses federal funding has become pervasive among conservatives hoping to justify defunding the organization. It’s a claim that has been repeated by anti-choice organizations and politicians alike—and when it goes unchecked, it stands to perpetuate a falsehood that could have harmful consequences. Should the federal government strip reproductive health-care clinics from its funding programs, it will be devastating for millions of people who rely on such providers, not always just for reproductive care.
(Rewire)

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MN lege: When will the crazy end? Part 2

by Dan Burns on February 22, 2017 · 0 comments

mn_capitolMore from our merry crew of emboldened, even giddy, right-wingnuts.
 

House file 702 and Senate file 695 would give powerful interests that oppose water quality standards the ability to force Administrative Law Judges and the Court of Appeals to conduct an independent “do-over” of rulemaking based on their own determinations about which scientific issues and data matter.
 
These bills
– ask judges with no subject matter expertise to do the complex work of expert career agency scientists,
– duplicate the rulemaking process and increase the cost, delay and uncertainty of developing water quality standards, and
– significantly undermine public input into rulemaking and agency transparency to the public.
(Friends of the Mississippi River)

Regarding the following, it won’t shock me if the federal money is “redirected.” But probably not as the noted legislators have in mind. More military spending and more tax cut handouts for the 1% are far more likely.
 

A pair of Republican state lawmakers announced a resolution to the Secretary of Transportation requesting $929 million in federal funding for Southwest Light Rail Transit be redirected to other transportation projects in Minnesota.
 
Sen. David Osmek (R-Mound) and Rep. Linda Runbeck (R-Circle Pines) would rather see that money go toward roads and bridges across the state than to one transit project they say wouldn’t benefit most Minnesotans.
(Fox 9)

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MN lege: When will the crazy end?

by Dan Burns on February 16, 2017 · 1 comment

minnesota_state_capitolSome of the dumb sh*t that right-wing legislators from the Minnesota Party of Trump have been hard at work on.
 

In a 76-49 vote on (Feb. 9), the Minnesota House of Representatives passed H.F.235, a bill that would eliminate the Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Program.
 
Launched in 2013, the 10-year incentive program helps residents, businesses and communities fund new solar PV and solar thermal systems whose equipment is certified as manufactured in Minnesota.
(Solar Industry)

This next one is basically about ending any liability for extremist kooks who booby-trap their property in anticipation of attacks from Obama’s hordes of ISIS Muslims. And pandering to fans of “survivalists” and the like on “reality” TV.
 

HF985, sponsored by Rep. Dan Fabian (R-Roseau), would prevent, in most cases, landowners from owing a “duty of care” to people who venture onto private property without permission…
 
Rep. Andrew Carlson (DFL-Bloomington) attacked the bill as a product the American Legislative Exchange Council, also known as ALEC, an organization dedicated to the principles of limited government, free markets and federalism…
 
Rep. Debra Hilstrom (DFL-Brooklyn Center) warned that HF985 would freeze existing common law in statute, making it impossible for Republican proponents to expand protections for property owners in the future.
(Session Daily)

Comment below fold.
 
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MN lege: Some pro-women legislation

by Dan Burns on February 15, 2017 · 0 comments

declarationThe Minnesota NOW e-newsletter, to which you can subscribe on their website, drew my attention to some worthy proposals. They probably won’t get far this session, but it’s good to spread the word anyway. Stuff like this really reinforces the need to get things turned around in the matter of voter participation. I’ve added links to the legislative web pages.
 

The Comprehensive Contraception Act will work to increase access to birth control by requiring health plans and public health care programs to cover a 12-month supply of prescription contraceptives and requiring health plans to cover all contraceptive methods, sterilization, and related medical services, patient education, and counseling.
 
The Protect Physicians’ Integrity Act removes barriers to abortion care by authorizing health care providers to provide patients with health information and services that are medically accurate, evidence-based, and appropriate for the patient, and by repealing informed consent requirements.

In my estimation, it’s misguided to characterize women who voted for Trump, and unfortunately there were a lot of them, as just mindlessly submissive and self-abasing. That won’t help get them to see the error of their ways. They had their reasons…not good reasons, by any rational standard, but they weren’t grounded in some kind of complete deficiency of self-respect. They honestly thought they were making the better choice.
 

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Legalizing marijuana in Minnesota

by Dan Burns on February 14, 2017 · 0 comments

imagesqtbnANd9GcSZspAVD2tLmnO6nfzr8GRRrcxptdR9GGJhQgVDlYnCtVzbgJ5ykQMinnesota unfortunately is not likely to be the next state to “legalize it.” Currently there is a GOP legislature, and Gov. Mark Dayton (DFL), for all of his excellence on many other issues, is not progressive when it comes to drug law reform. More fundamentally, the drug is simply not as widely popular here as it is in some other parts of the country. But when it comes to trying to put an end to destroying people’s lives over what is far and away the least harmful (note that I didn’t type “harmless”) mood-altering chemical I’ve used, and that includes plenty of alcohol, there’s never any reason for righteous people not to try.
 

FOX 9 reports that Rep. Applebaum believes his proposal is in-step with what most Americans think about pot.
 
“The world is changing, and Minnesotans are rightfully developing different attitudes on marijuana,” Rep. (Jon) Applebaum (DFL-Minnetonka) said. “Other states’ successes, along with the failed prohibition attempts of others, have validated the need for a statewide conversation on legalizing the personal, recreational use of marijuana.”
 
A fellow Democrat, Rep. Tina Liebling (DFL-Rochester), also thinks it’s high time their state went recreational. On Wednesday, she proposed another, separate bill to legalize marijuana through a constitutional amendment.
 
“My bill would let citizens decide whether it is time to try a different path—one already successfully paved by many other states,” she said in the FOX 9 report.
(The Weed Blog)

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