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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.


Daudt chairing for Walker in Minnesota

by Dan Burns on August 10, 2015 · 2 comments

daudtMy reaction was the same as that of this excellent blogger.

(Minnesota House Speaker) Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) is said to be a rising Republican star in Minnesota. And so, I have to seriously wonder about his judgment as he chooses to become the state chair of the Walker for President campaign….
“In Minnesota, we’ve seen how our neighbor, Wisconsin, has been able to turn around under the strong leadership of Gov. Walker,” Daudt said.
Seriously, Daudt? You want to go there?

I’m sure that as soon as he found out about Governor Mark Dayton’s replacement MPCA committee, Daudt was on the phone getting his orders from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). I haven’t seen yet that Minnesota Republicans intend to go to court over that. But I expect that they’ll try something.

I would just add that this makes it clear as the very air, for those who don’t know already, that Daudt is just another groveling Koch/ALEC punk. And I strongly suspect that he is preparing, as such, for a gubernatorial run in 2018. It will be quite helpful if, starting now, DFL activists take advantage of this opportunity to identify him in the public mind with the odious, corrupt, failed, and in many respects despicable governorship of Scott Walker.
Comment below fold.


Daudt the incompetent disaster

by Dan Burns on July 21, 2015 · 1 comment

daudtThe real lesson of the 2015 legislative session in Minnesota is how it brought the reality of the Great Con to which American conservatism has long since degenerated, into bold relief. The GOP promised to “address the needs” of rural Minnesota – specifically, to reverse the alleged pattern of them being screwed over by “liberal” city slickers. Once they had a House majority, the priority suddenly became blowing the entire budget surplus, plus some, on tax cut welfare for the wealthy, the bulk of which would have gone to big-time property owners, many of whom don’t even live in Minnesota. The preceding has not been emphasized enough, imo, in most post-session “analysis.”

I’m pretty sure I saw somewhere that House Speaker Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) nonetheless gave himself and his caucus an A-. (Talk about the Dunning-Kruger effect!) Many, as the saying goes, “beg to differ.”


“My heart is heavy with grief from the actions taken by the MN House Majority and some of the MN GOP Senators,” wrote Minnesota Tea Party Alliance president Jack Rogers on his Facebook page.
“Unfortunately, every house rep let us down in the final 48 hours,” commented Jake Duesenberg, the Tea Party’s executive director. “No tax cuts at all. Huge spending increases in public education and socialized health care.”

Quit laughing – the man’s heart is “heavy with grief!” In rational, reality-based, meaningful, constructive, socio-political discussion, what the hard right thinks is irrelevant, and I put it in here mostly just for a chuckle. Mostly. But it also shows that it’s not just progressive activists who are very displeased, though we on the left, who actually do represent strong majority opinion in this country, have a lot more legitimate, rational reasons to be.

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imagesqtbnANd9GcRhlLTHok0fDiQpsx_IVQRQg-lVMpygkf1rEyJsns1mZT-bzjRXYes, Glen Taylor’s GOP-cheerleading Star Tribune took its favorites to task. And you know that for plenty of people over there, that one went down hard. Real hard. The opening paragraphs:

State House Republicans started the legislative session setting high hopes for an agenda aimed at what ails rural Minnesota: the lack of housing options and job training for small-town workers, the scarcity of high-speed Internet connections in remote areas and state aid payments that are a lifeblood to many tiny communities but failing to keep pace with inflation.
Now, as lawmakers speed toward conclusion of the session, the centerpiece of the GOP agenda is a $2 billion tax cut plan that has left few resources for those rural-geared initiatives. Outstate advocates are criticizing House Republican plans, and even some GOP legislators are fretting about the message to voters in what has become the party’s most important base of support.
(Star Tribune)

To me, the overall tone of the article is that of a teacher gently chiding his “pet” students, as opposed to taking serious shots. But my own lens is admittedly – indeed, proudly – partisan. The point is that arguably the #1 news source for the great many older people outstate, who get up at 4 AM because of their backs or bladders or whatever (that’s not meant to be funny; my turn is coming, I know) and spend three hours every morning with a pot of coffee and the morning paper, prominently featured this, yesterday. And those older people are the Republican base. That is, allegedly the key to Republicans exploiting the “rural/metro divide” in order to “turn Minnesota red.” There is obviously real concern that conservative legislators are blowing what chance they had.
There may well be GOP legislators, including some newly elected, who really wanted to emphasize rural issues. But the American Legislative Exchange Council expects its orders to be followed.


The ALEC clown show plays Minnesota

by Dan Burns on April 21, 2015 · 0 comments

mncapitol2This is all so obviously straight outta the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) that Minnesota GOP legislative leaders might just as well have plastic surgery done, to make them all dead ringers for Scott Walker. First, what do “clerical errors” matter when it comes to savagely assaulting programs for the poor?

Due to clerical errors, House Republicans had to do some last minute revisions to their Health and Human Services spending bill for the coming biennium.
Instead of cutting about $1 billion from administrative costs associated with Medical Assistance, ending MinnesotaCare and delaying insurance company payments, the new total is about $1.2 billion in cuts over two years.

Their tax plan is similarly atrocious.


Minnesota GOP bill would sabotage clean energy

by Dan Burns on April 10, 2015 · 1 comment

Amargosa_desertIt doesn’t get much more just plain backward – indeed, downright antediluvian – than this.

One, the (GOP House) bill would repeal the quantitative state goals for reducing green house gas emissions and says the state should reduce green house gas emissions “in an affordable manner.” Whatever that means.
Two, the bill would allow either the Minnesota House or Senate to veto the plan that is now in the process of being developed by the Dayton administration to significantly reduce carbon emissions in our energy sector by 2020 and 2030. The plan is being developed in response to the EPA’s proposed rule on carbon. Since the bill would allow the House or Senate to veto any other carbon reduction plan that might be developed, the bill is not a negotiating tactic, rather it’s designed for gridlock.
This new strategy of trying to give the legislative branch veto power over an action taken by the executive branch is a product of ALEC, which gets a lot of its financial support from the fossil fuel industry.
(Rep. Jean Wagenius)

Wagenius, a DFLer who represents part of Minneapolis, goes on to note much more, if you care to click on the above.

Minnesota doctors on Wednesday connected the dots between proposed changes in Minnesota energy laws and the health of the public, particularly children suffering from asthma.
The Twin Cities Medical Society delivered a letter (see below) to every member of the Minnesota House and Senate that says emissions of power plants “are adversely affecting our environment and impacting the health of Minnesota’s communities,” and urged lawmakers to maintain the 2007 Next Generation Energy Act that Governor Tim Pawlenty signed into law.
(The Uptake)

Weeks ago, I mused that perhaps Republican legislators were seeing the need to move toward the center, or at least away from the extreme. That has not been the case. There is still talk about increasing basic assistance for welfare recipients, but other than that, not much to indicate that the legislative GOP is coming to terms with present – and, even more so, future – reality.

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Wisconsin Democrat cites Minnesota comparison

by Eric Ferguson on June 9, 2014 · 2 comments

garofalo-asleep-on-the-jobh/t Jeff Wilfahrt at
Wisconsin State Representative Chris Taylor wrote about her experience attending an ALEC conference. ALEC couldn’t entirely keep her out since she paid her dues, but they didn’t try to make her feel welcome either. “Secrecy reigned supreme. When I asked one of my fellow attendees to take my picture, an ALEC employee forbade it.” This was the part that jumped out at me:

Finally, there are the economics of the ALEC otherworld. I chuckled at the scorn directed at Minnesota, where, Rep. [Pat] Garafalo remarked, “the inmates are running the asylum.” Minnesota raised taxes on the rich and invested the resulting revenue in public schools, including all-day kindergarten. In “Rich States, Poor States,” an ALEC publication that ranks states in terms of a 2013 State Economic Outlook, Minnesota ranks 46th, Wisconsin 15th and Mississippi 10th. Yet in 2012 Minnesota had one of the fastest-growing economies in the nation, and currently has higher median incomes and lower unemployment and poverty rates than both Wisconsin and Mississippi (where a whopping 17.5 percent of families have incomes below the poverty level). The Bureau of Labor Statistics puts Minnesota near the top of private-sector job growth in the Midwest, while Wisconsin lags near the bottom. In the ALEC otherworld, actual economics do not count.
It’s all about a business-friendly environment. Hello, Third World.

I noted a couple times in my live blog of the DFL convention that speakers compared Minnesota to Wisconsin, in a way flattering to Minnesota. St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman briefly, and Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk gave the comparison some length. I wondered if Wisconsin Democrats were making the same comparison. There’s an answer. One is, anyway. That’s some reassurance that we’re seeing what we think we’re seeing, and not merely living in a state boundary bubble. ALEC sees it the same way, except they think budget crises are good, and better for funding schools is bad, so no wonder ALEC is upset with us.
And we see Rep. Taylor encountered one of the Minnesota Republicans who is more, quick witted isn’t quite the term … what’s a term for quick witted, except annoying rather witty? Anyway, she ran into Rep. Pat Garafalo, whose policy analysis on energy, “solar is dumb”, is more or less what we’ve come to expect, at least before he earned some positive attention for supporting marriage equality and medical marijuana. Good for him, getting on the right side of those two issues. Though yes, Rep. Taylor, what you heard is pretty much what we get over on this side of the St. Croix.


Is it bad that my first reaction to George Zimmerman’s “not guilty” verdict was “Thank God we have Mark Dayton so we didn’t get one of those BS ALEC-inspired ‘Stand your ground’ laws in Minnesota”?


This verdict is a tragedy for the Martin family, who lost their son and brother and now have no justice to show for it. I don’t blame the black community for a second for anger and fear and immense racial animus over this. But let’s be honest with ourselves: if Trayvon Martin were instead Tomas Martino, a scary-looking dark-skinned kid from Oaxaca, would George Zimmerman have done anything differently?


George Zimmerman is a racist scumbag. But this is a tragedy for a family, a community, and for our entire society — that we allow entire states to pass laws which allow armed bigots to kill someone whose look they don’t like, make ex post facto claims of “fear for one’s life”, and get away with murder. All in the name of freedom and liberty from people we don’t like, words we don’t want to hear, sights we don’t want to see. “Stand Your Ground” is nothing less than the legalization of the NRA’s “armed society = polite society” trope, one of the most unamerican pieces of stinking filth in existence today.


We cannot bring back Trayvon Martin, nor will we be able to bring back the next person who is gunned down because they wore a hoodie in the wrong neighborhood by an overzealous bigot with legal cover. Or the one after that. Let’s be perfectly clear-headed about this, it’s going to happen again and again and again while these idiotic fear-driven laws exist. The only thing we can do is get the morons and bigots who passed these laws out of office, whatever it takes, and repeal them in the name of freedom: freedom from idiocy, armed bigotry, and fear itself.


ALEC investigated

by The Big E on May 30, 2012 · 1 comment

First I heard from DFL legislators complaining that during committee hearings some Republicans were unable to answer questions about bills they authored. I remember one Representative quipping “it was like he didn’t even write the bill himself.”

In a world where corporate lobbyists often draft bills for their Republican allies, this sounded sadly typical of the MNGOP. But it turned out to be far more insidious.

Republican legislators across the nation actually just copy-pasted boilerplate language that the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) approved. All many MNGOP legislators had to do was change [Your State Here] to Minnesota and the like.

Eventually, the word started to get out about the extent of ALEC’s control of Minnesota Republican legislators. is a great starting point. They have a MN page listing all bills they are aware of that are ALEC bills.

ALEC files as a tax-exempt charitable organization. However, they behave much more like a lobbyist. Charities cannot lobby.

Common Cause cause has been tracking ALEC’s MN activity and filed a complaint with our Campaign Finance Board.

Today, the Campaign Finance Board agreed to investigate ALEC:

The Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board says it will investigate the American Legislative Exchange Council’s lobbying status in Minnesota.

The board disclosed the investigation in a letter to Common Cause Minnesota, the local arm of a national group that is asking many states to probe whether the conservative organization has violated its tax-exempt status.

Hopefully, Attorney General Lori Swanson and the IRS will also investigate.

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As a sort of follow up on Alec’s post, I think each Minnesota Republican legislator should answer the question “are you now or have you ever been a member of ALEC?”

American Legislative Exchange Council is the corporate lobby group behind vote suppression and “Shoot First” gun laws across the nation. But ALEC wants more than that. They want to gut environmental laws. They want supermajorities bills passed. They want so-called “Right-To-Work” bills passed to decimate unions.

But not every Republican wants to be associated with them.

A grassroots campaign by Keystone Progress to encourage Pennsylvania legislators to publicly reject membership in the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is already yielding dividends. Five former members of the shadowy right-wing front group behind state laws restricting access to the ballot and “stand your ground” gun laws have already said they have left ALEC. One of those, State Sen. John Pippy (R), is the former ALEC Pennsylvania state chair. Nationally, thirteen companies have announced they have severed ties with the “stealth business lobbyist” organization. Zaid Jilani reports 28 lawmakers nationwide have quit ALEC this month.

Of course, if any MNGOP lawmakers admit membership, ask them the follow up:

“Will you renounce ALEC and begin representing the needs of Minnesotans?”