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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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desertPerhaps they’re feeling pretty full of themselves after Trump’s “win,” (and the disgraceful coattails thereof in Minnesota), or perhaps they would have tried this anyway. In any case, it’s interesting to see who all is lining up against it.

A group of large industrial users joined consumer advocates in decrying a bill that would permit Xcel Energy to build a 786 megawatt combined cycle natural gas plant without regulatory approval.
The gas plant, likely to cost more than $1 billion, would replace two coal-fired units at Xcel plant near the town of Becker that are slated for closure by 2026.
Sponsored by Republican Rep. Jim Newberger, whose district includes Becker, the bill was approved by the Job Growth and Energy Affordability Policy and Finance committee (January 17). A companion bill will be heard in the Senate.
Leading opposition to the decision are the Minnesota Large Industrial Group and the Citizens Utility Board, as well as several clean energy groups. A letter signed by dozens of church leaders also voiced objection to the legislation.
(Midwest Energy News)


minnesota_state_capitolThe assertions in the article are backed with ample quantities of data.

This year, (Minnesota Senate) Republicans get to appoint whomever they want to these committees. Fairness, tradition, the will of the electorate, and clearly established Senate Rules (see section 10.1) demand that Republicans do not simply screw Democrats on this.
Whatever party proportions are overall, that’s what committees are supposed to look like too. Which means that most should be about half and half, with a teensy advantage to the GOP.
But this session, Republicans are doing away with all pretense of bipartisanship. They’ve stacked the committees with so many of their own guys, Democrats will be totally powerless to object to any bills they want to ram through.
(City Pages)

This is actually just a small, but significant, example of the sort of thing that’s been going on all over this country, at all levels of power, for a while now. One of the clear lessons of history is that when those who’ve been provided tremendous wealth and power feel it threatened, they will, often via their political toadies, resort to ever-worsening excesses to try to hold on. Voter suppression, right-wing judicial overreach, and the use of Republican-owned “news” media as an all-but-explicit propaganda tool are just three of the most flagrant current examples. And it’s all really brought us to a wonderful place, now, hasn’t it?


While they like to give lip service to being the party of small government, and moan and groan about government over-reach ad nauseum, the GOP is the worst offender for unwarranted intrusion into the lives of citizens minding their own business.  The right is obsessed with controlling our sexual and gender identity, sexual orientation, and reproductive choices, attempting to variously criminalize those decisions, or to make them for us.  These are things which largely cannot be legislated, as gender and sexuality, and individual body autonomy are intrinsic and inherent parts of each human being.  The GOP, particularly the MN GOP, must get out of our bedrooms, our bathrooms, our locker rooms, and our pants.

It should be an accepted premise of government that any legislation that interferes with the free will and action of citizens should serve a demonstrated NEED for such legislation.  In the case of the transgender and bathrooms, there have been more instances of Republican politicians arrested for sexual misconduct in bathrooms than there have been documented incidents, much less arrests or convictions, of transgender persons behaving inappropriately or illegally.  One of those GOP pols, Larry Craig, was arrested right here in Minnesota, at the International Airport.


As noted by the Intellectualist:


According to Media Matters, there haven’t … been any reports of men ‘pretending’ to be transgender to gain access to women’s spaces and commit crimes against them. You know who have been arrested in public bathrooms for sexual misconduct?Republican politicians.
Without even diving too deep, we found three GOP legislators who were picked up for lavatory indiscretions.
Their names: Larry Craig …, Jon Hinson, and Bob Allen.

We may need laws against GOP politicians using public bathrooms. By contrast, trans people are doing just fine.

It has long been my contention that not only are a number of conned-servatives are controlling, authoritarian hypocrites, but also that many are bigots, (bigotry being defined as “sincerely” believing broadly denigrating and factually false things about a broad group of people in order to in some way demean or discriminate against them). In the case of transgender people, American or otherwise, it is a fact that there have been more Republican members of Congress arrested for illegal sexual conduct in public bathrooms than there have been arrests of transgender people for either sexual assault or sexual harassment, both of which are the justification for transgender bathroom bill legislation.


The most recent example of that is HB 41, a bill introduce by three of the most consistently stupid members of the state legislature since the super star of MN lege stupid, Michele Bachmann, moved on to a larger public platform for embarrassment. Her most recent public embarrassment was the lie that President Obama had extorted foreign governments to walk in gay pride parades.  Because you can’t make up stupid, especially dishonest stupid, the way Michele Bachmann can.  Sadly all too often, when the facts are not on the side of conservatives, like Bachmann, like the authors of HB 41, they just make up stuff; worse they come to believe their lies.

From lgbtqnation:


Former Congresswoman Michele Bachmann appeared on the Family Research Council‘s “Washington Watch” radio program late last week to discuss the incoming Trump Administration.
In her appearance, which was captured by RightWingWatch, she denounced the State Department for forcing foreign government ministers to march in gay pride parades. It is unclear what she is referring to.

Financial incentives are withheld from countries unless they advance, for instance, the gay agenda. In a country that doesn’t believe in the gay agenda, the Obama State Department has said, “Look, you have to have a Gay Pride parade. You have to make sure that you can show us that ministers are marching in this Gay Pride parade.” What? The US government is telling another government, “You have to have Gay Pride parades”? That’s unbelievable! “You won’t get your PEPFAR money, you won’t get your USAID money, unless you follow our radical social agenda”?

HB 41 is the latest effort at a bathroom bill, a bill to make life more of a living hell for transgender students.

From OnTop magazine:


Three Republican members of the Minnesota House have introduced a bill that targets transgender students.
The Student Physical Privacy Act (HF 41) seeks to “protect and provide for the privacy and safety of all students enrolled in public schools and to maintain order and dignity in restrooms, locker rooms, changing rooms, showers, and other facilities where students may be in various states of undress in the presence of other students.”
It defines “sex” to mean “the physical condition of being male or female, which is determined by a person’s chromosomes and is identified at birth by a person’s anatomy.” The bill would designate restrooms, locker rooms, changing rooms and shower rooms for the “exclusive use by students of the male sex only or by the students of the female sex only.”
The bill’s authors are Representatives Duanne Quam of Byron, Steve Drazkowski of Mazeppa and Eric Lucero of Dayton.
Introduced on Thursday, the proposed legislation has been referred to the Education Innovation Policy committee.


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bensonIt should always be kept in mind that right-wing drivel like this is inevitably spewed with one ultimate end in mind: disastrous outsourcing to greedheads. Assuming that we as a society are supposed to actually try to help those who need it, at all. Though not a Christian I can’t help but point out that the Bible certainly says that we should.

Senate Deputy Majority Leader Michelle Benson delivered a blunt message Friday to nonprofit leaders seeking state funding: Be prepared to prove your worth.
“When it comes to accessing public dollars, you will want to work really hard to prove what you’ve already done with the dollars you’ve already been given, whether it’s public dollars or private dollars,” said Benson, R-Ham Lake. “Be ready to deliver accountability.”
…“It’s a frightening time right now,” said Shelley Jacobson, CEO of Minnesota Communities Caring for Children/Prevent Child Abuse Minnesota. The nonprofit relies, in part, on state funding, and she said she was worried that could be stripped away.
Jacobson called Benson’s demands for proof of impact a Catch-22: “You have to have staff to be able to do the research.”
(Star Tribune)

As Sen. Benson (R-Ham Lake) has a safe seat I haven’t paid any attention to her during election seasons. She’s your typical Minnesota Party of Trump member, with a website that’s heavy on MNsure/ACA-bashing and whimpering about tax “relief.”


MN lege: GOP makes a hater Senate Majority Leader

by Dan Burns on November 16, 2016 · 0 comments

gazelkaErstwhile Minnesota Senate Republican leader David Hann (R-Eden Prairie) lost his reelection effort, and Sen. Paul Gazelka (R-Nisswa) is the new guy. (The GOP has a 34-33 majority, pending a couple of recounts that are unlikely to change anything.) Gazelka is a head case.

Take his appearance nearly a year ago at the Now is the Time! Now is the Season! Jubilee! Chuck Pierce and Dutch Sheets, Duluth MN in Duluth, at which the state senator joined other Christian dominionists to pray for the Zenith City. (For a quick look into the mind of Dutch Sheets, check out his Baal Teachings, which equate LGBTQ people with demons; someone should find out in Gazelka–who in 2010 grabbed the endorsement from the MNGOP’s only openly gay legislator–if he agrees).
(Bluestem Prairie)

I don’t know that there was a lot of thought put into this. Mostly I figure that Gazelka wanted the job when it unexpectedly opened up, and he gets along with most everyone in the caucus, so they gave it to him.
It’s not like most people even know, much less care, who the state Senate Majority Leader is. But I will note that not long ago I would have mocked the MNGOP for putting an openly bigoted extremist into a position like this, given the longer-term political winds. Right now, I’m not so sure.


Governor Dayton and the MN lege GOP

by Dan Burns on November 12, 2016 · 1 comment

dayton2Sounds like a good call on the Governor’s part, to me.

Dayton has two more years in his term and doesn’t appear willing to budge on key issues. He says Minnesota voters sent a mixed message by narrowly backing Hillary Clinton for president but also supporting GOP control of the Legislature…
Dayton and Republicans will also face a rerun of divided state government in 2011. That year, a budget impasse between the two sides resulted in a government shutdown.
While Dayton says he’s willing to work with Republicans this year, he warned the outcome could be messy again.
“It’s going to be unrealistic for Minnesotans to send a group of people that are closely divided and have deep differences and expect that it’s all going to be peace and harmony. It’s not,” he said. “They sent a divided government here in St. Paul and they’re going to get divided government for better and for worse.”

Referring to the rest of the article, in reality relatively few people are being screwed by the MNsure price hikes (though there shouldn’t be any, and a DFL legislature would have been primed to see to that). But Minnesota’s corporate media obsessing on that, as well as with the so-called “rural/urban divide,” in order to help out the Party of Trump, may indeed have helped them. Mostly, though, the GOP legislative majorities got there on the coattails of a president-elect who is a misogynist and sexual predator, white supremacist, pathological liar, career criminal…and a ridiculous buffoon. Really something to be proud of.
The elements will in all likelihood be in place for a 2018 backlash election in our favor. It will help if we take every opportunity, between now and then, to identify MN GOP legislators with Trump.
Comment below fold.

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