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NoVoteHere’s the cover page of the bill, SF514. I’m just going to pass along the bulk of an email from the Minnesota Senate DFL Caucus, specifically Assistant Minority Leader Sen. Susan Kent (DFL-Woodbury).
 

The Omnibus Elections Bill authored by Republican Mary Kiffmeyer would create a controversial and complicated provisional balloting system that would throw out legitimate ballots so that not all votes would be counted. Furthermore, it would allow anybody to challenge your ballot without basis or cause. If your ballot were to be challenged, your vote may not be counted and your private data would be permanently made public. Not only is this a bad idea, it also adds millions of dollars in costs to already overburdened counties.
 
Countless Minnesotans would be disenfranchised and unnecessarily hassled if this becomes law. Republicans’ goal is to suppress the vote so that they can more easily pass their agenda. When fewer people participate, Republicans win. They want to change the rules to make it harder for your vote to be counted.

Comment below fold.
 
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MN lege: When will the crazy end? Part 4

by Dan Burns on May 4, 2017 · 0 comments

minnesota_state_capitolThree items. Regarding the first, you may recall that during the Pawlenty administration Local Government Aid was slashed, to the point that local governments had to hike taxes on businesses just to provide basic services. And believe it or not, Party of Trump legislators want to go down that road again, though in less flagrant ways this time around.
 

The Governor’s proposal—by virtue of its larger appropriation increase in 2018 and by the fact that it does not rescind that increase in 2019—provides larger aid increases for more cities in both 2018 and 2019 than either the House or Senate proposals. For example, 679 cities receive an aid increase relative to current law in both 2018 and 2019, and for 532 of these cities, or 78 percent, the increase exceeds two percent. No city experiences an aid reduction relative to current law in either 2018 or 2019 under the Governor’s proposal.
 
To this point, the analysis in this proposal has been in nominal dollars (i.e., dollars unadjusted for inflation). Because inflation erodes the purchasing power of LGA over time, it is important to examine the change in aid in real (i.e., inflation-adjusted) dollars.‡ Only the Governor’s proposal provides LGA funding sufficient to maintain the real purchasing power of LGA dollars at the 2017 level in both 2018 and 2019 for a significant number of Minnesota cities.
(North Star Policy Institute)

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daudt(Update: On Monday, the same day that I posted the text below, the Minnesota House did produce a bonding bill plan. Which doesn’t mean that Speaker Daudt and his allies won’t wait until the last minute, again, to try to shove it through on an our-plan-or-no-plan-at-all basis.
 

(“Grossly inadequate” would be one way to describe the House proposal. “Shortsighted” and “small-minded” work, too. As does plain old “cheap.” Here are links to proposals from the:
 
House;
 

Senate;
 

Governor.)
 

To me at least, the ending of the 2016 legislative session in Minnesota was quite probably not just some display of ineptitude. I think it was House Speaker Kurt Daudt’s (R-Crown) intent all along to ram through the Republican bonding bill at the last minute, giving Democratic legislators and Gov. Dayton no choice but to go along or get no bill at all. The whole plan may well have originated with Daudt’s handlers at the American Legislative Exchange Council. And, because 2016 turned out to be such a bizarre and horrifying political year, the fact that said plan didn’t entirely work produced no backlash vs. the MN GOP.

 
And from what I’m seeing so far, the intent may well be to try the same thing again, only get it “right” this time.
 

As the session reaches the spring recess — leaving about a month left when lawmakers return — the bonding bill is one of the biggest question marks.
 
Last year, a bonding plan emerged in the last hours of the last day of the session. It failed to reach the governor’s desk after a volley between the House and Senate caused lawmakers to run out of time.
(MPR)

That article is from early April. But as of this writing the House still hasn’t produced a detailed bill.
 
Yet there are growing indications that Daudt is not the Minnesota Party of Trump’s undisputed golden boy that I and others have believed him to be. Rep. Matt Dean (R-Dellwood) announced a run for governor.
 

Dean, 51, has a soft-spoken demeanor but is widely viewed as a leader of the conservative wing of the House Republican caucus. Two years ago, he sought the post of House speaker but was defeated by Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, who’s mulling his own bid for governor.
 
Ramsey County Commissioner Blake Huffman is the only other Republican to declare so far. In addition to Daudt, other Republicans considering the race include Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek, GOP Party Chairman Keith Downey, 2014 Republican nominee Jeff Johnson and a handful of other state legislators, including Sen. David Osmek of Mound and Sen. Michelle Benson of Ham Lake.
(Star Tribune)

If Daudt and his fans can’t even impress/intimidate Matt Dean enough to convince him that joining the race would just be a waste of time and effort, things are a lot iffier for him than I have realized up to now.
 

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Featured Guest Commentary

Senator-John-Martyby Senator John Marty
April 29, 2017

What if Republicans repealed Minnesota’s campaign finance reforms and nobody knew about it? Unfortunately, that is happening right now.

 

Both the Minnesota House and Senate recently passed legislation to repeal the heart of Minnesota’s campaign finance reform laws. These were major reforms adopted on a bipartisan basis forty years ago in the wake of the Watergate scandal and were strengthened after an ethics scandal in the early 1990s.

 

Despite widespread disgust at the corruption of our democracy from powerful special interests and deep frustration at the Citizens’ United ruling which allowed more big money into politics, there has been no public outcry about this effort to repeal Minnesota’s reforms, even though this will make the situation worse.

 

Why the lack of outcry? Simply put, the public doesn’t know about it. I have not seen a single news report about the issue, perhaps because the repeal is buried in the large budget bill that funds state agencies. It takes just 4 lines hidden in a lengthy 56-page bill to destroy four decades of campaign financing reform.

 

The law being repealed established campaign spending limits for candidates. Those spending limits are tied to public financing to help give new candidates and those without a lot of money a chance to compete without relying on wealthy interests to fund their campaigns.

 

Virtually all candidates for the Minnesota legislature and constitutional offices currently abide by the spending limits. If this repeal is signed into law, in 2018 there won’t be any restriction on how much a candidate can spend.

 

People who care about the future of our democracy should be outraged. Year after year, politicians and the courts have been steadily turning our democracy over to the highest bidders, turning our elections into auctions. Well-funded interests can win enough close races to determine who controls government.

 

As a candidate who has rejected all PAC and lobbyist money, I am concerned that candidates who reject special interest money will have no chance of winning, and that legislators will become even more beholden to the interests of the big donors who fund their campaigns.

 

Major changes in state policy such as this should not be buried in budget bills. Senate File 605, the State Government Appropriations Bill that contains the repeal of the campaign finance reforms, is in conference committee to work out differences between the House and Senate language. The one conferee fighting to block it is Sen. Carolyn Laine, the only DFL member of the committee. Unless the Republican conference committee members have a change of heart, or unless the Governor vetoes the bill, Minnesota’s campaign finance reforms will be gone.

 

If we believe that our state should be governed by the will of the voters, not the desires of wealthy donors and powerful interests, we need to speak out now. For the sake of our democracy, we need the legislature to remove the repeal language or for Governor Dayton to veto the bill.

 


Copyright © 2017 Senator John Marty. All rights reserved. Reprinted here with permission from the author.

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schoolsWe’ll see how hard the deformers push this in the legislature, when crunch time comes. Traditional public schools these days are turning out kids who are simply too smart to buy into conservatism – the failed ideology of f*cking idiots. The righties are beyond desperate to undermine that.
 

Gov. Mark Dayton has been a longtime opponent of efforts to allow public money to follow students to private schools.
 
But the governor said he was asked to publicly repeat his position, so that’s what he did Wednesday: “I will veto any bill that has vouchers attached to it.”
 
That’s not all, though.
 
Dayton clarified that his opposition extends beyond the traditional concept of private school vouchers. He opposes provisions in the House and Senate tax bills that would give breaks to people who donate to organizations that deliver private school scholarships, saying too many charities would want similar status.
(MPR)

Here is important background information.
 

Conservatives continue to push vouchers and private school tax credits, despite new research (summarized in a recent North Star article) indicating that this approach is counter-productive to improving student achievement. Minnesota is among the states considering expanding the K-12 education tax credit to include contributions by individuals and corporations to foundations that provide vouchers and other funding for private schools. If we do the math, it becomes apparent that a large portion—up to 82 percent—of these private contributions to private schools would be effectively paid for with public dollars…
 
Ultimately, these educational tax credits for individuals and corporations will result in de facto public funding of private educational choices, with relatively little public oversight over how the dollars are spent and without proof that student achievement goals are being met (or even adequately measured) or that teachers are fully qualified. In some instances, public dollars could be subsidizing institutions that have a political affiliation or social agenda. The public will not decide how these public tax dollars are spent, but rather private corporations and wealthy individuals, whose goals may not align with the public interest.
(North Star Policy Institute)

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minnesota_state_capitolI spend so much time ripping on the Party of Trump-controlled 2017 Minnesota legislature, all of it deserved, that I feel a need to note that there are good things happening there, too.
 

The House on Monday approved a bill that would extend and expand benefits to people with autism and related conditions.
 
Sponsored by Rep. Roz Peterson (R-Lakeville) and Sen. Jim Abeler (R-Anoka), HF919/ SF562* modifies a 2013 law that provided intensive treatment for children with autism spectrum disorders. Passed 131-0, the bill would extend the benefits, called Early Intensive Developmental and Behavioral Intervention (EIDBI), to 21-year-olds and expands qualifying conditions.
 
After passing the Senate March 20 by a 66-0 vote, the bill now heads to Gov. Mark Dayton.
(Session Daily)

Unfortunately, based on this, as far as I can tell the next one didn’t make it through the committee process, this session. Hopefully they’ll keep trying.
 

The Wilder Foundation is pushing Minnesota lawmakers to pass a bill that would set aside $5 million dollars a year to expand CLASS Act to other cities. And backers have found strong support on both sides of the aisle.
 
The measure allocates $10 million from the state’s housing trust fund over two years to secure stable housing for families with children in pre-K through grade 12. The bill expands a pilot program that helped 277 students over the past two school years.
 
Republican Bill Weber of Luverne is chief author of the measure in the Senate. Even with a $1.65 billion budget surplus, Weber said lawmakers need to be careful about how they spend taxpayer money.
 
He said the rental assistance pilot is worth funding because it has a proven track record.
(MPR)

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733903_10151935016956738_272268164_nOf course they are. It’s like the moon and the tides, and with about as much thought put into it all.
 

State-sponsored health programs administered by the Department of Human Services would not be able to pay for abortions, except as needed to continue participation in a federal program.
 
The House passed HF809 Monday 77-54. Sponsored by Rep. Mary Franson (R-Alexandria), the bill now moves to the Senate, where Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer (R-Big Lake) is the sponsor…
 
Rep. Laurie Halverson (DFL-Eagan) said the entire range of health care should be available to women in Minnesota regardless of whether they are wealthy or poor.
 
“We’re developing a habit of not listening to low-income women and not listening to women of color within the Legislature,” said Rep. Peggy Flanagan (DFL-St. Louis Park).
(Session Daily)

Also “House passes measure to require licensure of abortion clinics.”
 

Rather interesting. The part about “running out of measures to introduce,” in many states, is my pick.
 

“There is this competition to the bottom that has been happening with state legislatures and abortion over the past six years,” says Elizabeth Nash, the state issues manager for the Guttmacher Institute and the lead author on the report. But in 2017, she adds “the scale has changed.” She explained that compared with the same period from 2011 to 2016, “we haven’t been seeing as much activity on abortion as we have seen.” Rather than suggesting a diminished interest in abortion restrictions, Nash explains that given the onslaught of new abortion restrictions in the past six years, some states might simply be running out of measures to introduce. But beyond that, health care reform, state budgets, and the opioid crisis might have caused conservative state legislatures to focus their attention elsewhere at the beginning of their legislative sessions, suggesting that anti-abortion activity might pick up later in the year.
(Mother Jones)

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MN lege: When will the crazy end? Part 3

by Dan Burns on April 18, 2017 · 0 comments

mn_capitolCrunch time is upon us, and these three items are being presented here as a way of sort of summarizing where things are at.
 

The MN GOP House Republicans make a couple of false arguments. First, they insinuate that they are protecting rural Minnesota’s roads and bridges. They have falsely stated that somehow light rail takes money away from those needed road and bridge repairs. Federal funds for light rail can go nowhere else – it is how the funding operates. Secondly, they make this fantasy argument that by rejecting light rail funding, that somehow they are giving some kind of windfall to the taxpayers of Minnesota. Not true. In fact, they are not saving taxpayer dollars here or anywhere. That money is appropriated for that purpose. It doesn’t go back into the US treasury. It doesn’t get rebated back to the state. It will simply go to another project in some other state. And Minnesota’s portion of the tax payments go with it.
 
Rural Minnesota absolutely needs road and bridge repairs. But it is an issue that is separate from metro transit. It must be funded via the gas tax money or the general fund or some other statutory method. But the MN GOP is disingenuous to be making rail transit an us vs them false equivalency. It is an “alternative fact”, and the GOP needs to be honest about what they are saying.
(mnpACT!)

This next one is titled “The 7 plagues of the Republican budget.”
 
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minnesota_state_capitolAt least, that seems the readily apparent interpretation, to me.
 

Minnesota Management and Budget commissioner Myron Frans held a state Capitol news conference Wednesday to say the budget proposal Dayton released in January and updated last month is fiscally responsible, while the House and Senate GOP plans are not.
 
“The Legislature’s math just does not add up,” Frans said.
 
Frans accused Republican leaders of using “fuzzy math,” as well as “phony savings” and delayed payments to pay for a large tax cut bill. He suggested many of the bills could be headed for vetoes if not altered.
 
Frans highlighted several examples in the finance bills for Health and Human Services and State Government.
 
“The legislative budget bills we have seen are not serious attempts to govern Minnesota,” Frans said. The bills are designed to be talking points to start negotiations with the governor from an imaginary position, a made up starting point if you will.”
(MPR)

And here’s an example of that “starting point.” Legislators in the Party of Trump actually have the gall to call it the “Minnesota Way.” They should be saying the “ALEC Way.”
 

The Minnesota budget blueprint produced (March 20) by majority House Republicans seeks hefty tax cuts and aims to pare down expected costs in publicly subsidized health and welfare programs.
 
GOP leaders said their framework would deliver long-overdue tax relief given a sizable state budget surplus. The plan would make $1.35 billion in tax cuts the next two years with the details to come later.
(MPR)

 
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smokestacksThere will be a rally at the Minnesota Capitol today, scheduled to start at 11AM, opposing pro-oil pipeline policies included in the Omnibus Jobs and Energy Bill.
 

When: (Today), Thursday April 6th at 11:00am
Where: MN State Capitol (basement level) Room B971
 
What’s happening: The proposed Jobs and Energy Omnibus Bill has a lot of terrible things in it, including 2 changes to state law that would fast track pipelines (including Enbridge’s Line 3) and eliminate some of our most important tools for environmental and social protection. The bill has been approved by the Senate and the relevant committee in the House and is now moving to the House floor for review.
 
The bill would:
1) Exempt oil and gas pipelines from the “Certificate of Need” part of the permit process. This means Enbridge would no longer have to prove that Line 3 (or other proposed pipelines) are actually needed. The CON process is the state’s only mechanism for rejecting a project.
2) Prevent regulators from considering alternative routes that don’t start and end where Enbridge wants them to. This means that Enbridge would get to define the project based on what’s best for their profits, and the State of MN would no longer be able to consider other routes that could get oil to market with less impact on our land, water, health, and human rights.

 
The Omnibus Legacy Bill is similarly odious. And potentially disastrous.
 

Minnesota’s Party of Trump in the legislature is full-on on removing public protections through any means possible. That has little to do with what Minnesota’s residents want (more here), but they don’t care about that.
 

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