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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.”


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.


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)


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)

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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.


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)


MN House: Laurie Warner in 32B special

by Dan Burns on February 7, 2017 · 0 comments

minnesota_state_capitolOn February 14, one week from today, Valentine’s Day in fact, there is a special election for House 32B, in east central MN (both candidates live in North Branch). If you’re a DFLer in the district, why not make voting part of your romantic evening? Contemplate the added joy and satisfaction of sharing love’s pleasure, knowing you’ve done your bit to help make the state a better place.

This one was supposed to happen in November with all the others. But the Republican candidate got a boot put to his behind, on a residency issue.
Our candidate is Laurie Warner.

The future success of our children starts with early childhood education. Laurie will invest in programs that provide our students a jump-start to kindergarten. All students deserve the opportunity to excel in our K-12 system. Laurie will work to train quality teachers, increase college and career readiness programs, expand access to technology in schools, and ensure students have physical education classes which will help them be healthier and more successful in the classroom.

Anne Neu is running for the Party of Trump. And you can tell.


MN lege: A new tactic for school voucher backers

by Dan Burns on February 2, 2017 · 0 comments

school2If you’re at all interested in this issue, and frankly you should be, you need to click and read the whole article.

In St. Paul, the OAK folks were also on hand to support the latest attempt to keep Minnesota taxpayer dollars in private hands, when it comes to education funding. Through a bill introduced by Republican Ron Kresha of northern Minnesota, lawmakers will be asked to provide a tax credit for individuals and corporations who make “equity and diversity donations” to private and religious school foundations.
Such donations are then supposed to be used as scholarships for kids withering away at miserable and/or secular public schools, but don’t call them vouchers (at least not yet). A school voucher, strictly speaking, draws money directly out of public education coffers, and directs it to private schools, including religious schools, in the form of reimbursement. A tax credit, or “neo-voucher,” on the other hand, allows taxpayers (corporate or individual) to avoid paying into the public education coffers in the first place.
(Bright Light Small City)

It will be interesting to see how this fares in the state Senate (assuming it gets that far, this session – could be a trial balloon, for now), where the MNPoT (Party of Trump) has a one-vote majority. Including whether it gets any DFL support there.


Why did the MNGOP acquiesce on MNsure?

by Dan Burns on February 1, 2017 · 0 comments

singlepayerPremium relief got passed into law last week.

The following is a statement from Governor Mark Dayton.

“In order to provide urgently-needed health insurance premium relief to 125,000 Minnesotans, I am signing this essential legislation today. I do not agree with everything included in it. I have said repeatedly that I think it is unnecessary and unwise to rush the ‘reforms’ added to this bill, without proper public review or full consideration of their consequences. I am especially concerned that the change to allow foreign and for-profit insurers into the Minnesota market has not been adequately reviewed, and I ask the legislature to seriously re-evaluate this provision, when future health care legislation is considered.


I haven’t been able to find a detailed discussion of what the GOP did get, with the limited time and patience that I have available right now. But I know that it didn’t get the horrifying Draz wish-list.
I suppose that it’s actually pretty straightforward.
– For years, forces led by the Minnesota Party of Trump and the pathologically MNsure-bashing Minneapolis Star Tribune have been making political hay of the premium increases, despite the relatively small number of Minnesotans actually affected when federal subsidies are taken into account.* With this, the GOP gets to present themselves as the saviors, and are happy to do so, because:
– They figure MNsure will be history soon anyway, as the ACA is repealed at the federal level.
It’s so simple that even most elected right-wingers can process it. And, sadly, it probably is a political win for them. Hopefully not enough of one to make a dent in the anti-Trump backlash in 2018/2020, but I’m not confident of any sort of positive political outlook, right now.

The rate increases will only affect the 5 percent of Minnesotans who buy their own health insurance through the MnSure exchange and who do not get it from their employer…
MNsure CEO Allison O’Toole said that rising premiums can in many cases be reduced by federal tax credits if consumers enroll through MNsure. Two-thirds of enrollees are eligible for a credit.
(Mankato Free Press)

In other words, about 1.7% of Minnesotans actually got drilled. I’m not suggesting that they weren’t looking at real pain, or weren’t deserving of the measure of relief that they’re finally getting. Just pointing out that these facts weren’t exactly highlighted in most media coverage of the issue. And that in the bigger picture nearly everyone is paying too much, in order to subsidize the utterly amoral profits-before-people agenda of the greedheads.)


minnesota_state_capitolThis sick, depraved plan – awarding electoral votes proportionally in many blue/swing states, but keeping them winner-take-all in red ones – has actually been broached in a number of states since 2010, but has yet to get over the hump anywhere.

The House Government Operations and Elections Policy Committee Legislation spent 30 minutes discussing a bill that would potentially split up the state’s 10 electoral votes based on how candidates perform across the state. No action was taken, but it was kept alive for possible inclusion in a broader elections package. And it probably will remain viable given that Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt is a co-sponsor.
Like all but two states, Minnesota has always assigned all of its electoral votes to the statewide popular vote winner. Since 1976, that’s meant Democratic presidential hopefuls have had them in their column.
The proposed change would decide the votes based on outcomes in each congressional district, with the statewide winner getting the remaining two. If such a setup had existed last year, Republican nominee Donald Trump would have earned half of the 10 votes.

You might think that even the most die-hard right-wing legislators would have some sort of ethical qualms, about trying to rig elections as if we’re in North Korea or something, but apparently not. Anyway, Minnesota isn’t the only state where this is going on.

Donald Trump just won the presidency due to the Electoral College despite losing the popular vote, but Republican legislators in key states are plotting to make our electoral system even less democratic. Republicans in Minnesota, New Hampshire, and Virginia have all proposed allocating one electoral vote to the winner of each congressional district and two to the statewide winner, something that only Maine and Nebraska currently do. While this change might sound like a more proportional reform, Republicans have only one purpose in mind: gerrymandering the Electoral College…
No other democracy uses an electoral college to pick their president precisely because it’s so insanely undemocratic. With rampant gerrymandering, voter suppression laws, efforts to nullify election losses, and the president himself claiming bogus election fraud, Republicans have already demonstrated repeatedly that they reject the legitimacy of the Democratic Party and even democracy itself. If the GOP continues down this path and do indeed try to gerrymander the Electoral College, America’s ongoing constitutional crisis over the imperiled state of our democracy could come to a dangerous head.
(Daily Kos)

We need some public outrage, here. Spread the word, if you please.
Comment below fold.

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