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Legislature

Minimum wage amendment a defensible idea

by Eric Ferguson on March 30, 2014 · 3 comments

WAGE-color-3-col-1024x852Let’s just clear up at the start that the headline is definitely lukewarm. “Defenisble” is not a hearty defense. There’s a case but it’s not a slam-dunk; less than obvious; maybe 55-45 rather than 100%. But let’s think about an amendment before reflexively saying no.

 

Let’s also look past motivations. Maybe it’s really “trolling”, as Tony Petrangelo suggests. that will become obvious if the DFL Senate leaders back off a constitutional amendment when it looks like it might actually happen. Representatives, as I’ve heard some of them say, are quite conscious that they’re up for reelection and will have a tough time explaining why nothing passed. Senators, judging from their actions, seem oblivious of this fact. Maybe the tension between the houses will stop anything from happening, but let’s pretend that they really do want the best policy, and they want to help their party in the next election. Just to be clear that this isn’t a case of having to decide what’s best for the party contrasting with what’s best for the public, this is a case where the policy is best for both. That’s what drives Democrats nuts when Democratic elected officials don’t jump all over a minimum wage increase. “Good policy is good politics”, remember? It’s incredibly popular and a great necessity for our economy, so why is this even a contention between Democrats? Yet it is. So let’s think about a constitutional amendment.

 
This is the proposed amendment:
 
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DontDroneMeBro1There is one thing that most Republicans and most Democrats agree on: drones are bad. The 2013 legislature will be taking on the drone issue with a bill that set limits when and how law enforcement can use a drone. Basically, in anything except a terrorist attack or imminent threat to someone’s life, they’d have to get a warrant.
 
It’s bad enough that our government collects all our emails, texts, phone calls and monitors our social media. But let’s make sure they aren’t using drones to expand how they monitor us.
 

Once thought of as a futuristic tool deployed only by the United States military, and only against foreign fighters, the use of unmanned surveillance drones has begun to hit closer to home. Rep. Brian Johnson, R-Cambridge, said he is aware of at least a dozen instances in which Minnesota police forces have used aerial drones in the course their regular duties.
 
Johnson’s bill, which he also entered last session, would set a strict statewide policy on when and how law enforcement drones could be used. Under the legislation, police would be allowed to use drones to prevent a terrorist attack or to help handle a situation involving “imminent danger to life or serious damage to property.” Aside from these emergency scenarios, all other drone flights would require the police agency to obtain a warrant, an element that Johnson — a former Isanti County Sheriff’s deputy — said is only a minor impediment to police work.

“It’s only going to be two or three extra sentences in a search warrant,” Johnson said.
(Politics in Minnesota)

Reps. Tom Anzelc (DFL-Balsam Township) and Jason Metsa (DFL-Virginia) are co-sponsoring the bill.
 

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Facepalm Drazkowski

Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R-Mazeppa) will briefly halt his single-minded assault on big government. The cause? Local governments making money from traffic scofflaws through safe driving classes which keep the scofflaws record clean.
 
Throughout Minnesota, if you get pulled over for a minor traffic violation, you can keep your record clean and help fill the coffers of your local government. You just have to pay for and take a class on safe driving.
 
But not if The Draz gets his way:
 

“We have a small handful of renegade counties with rogue county attorneys and sheriffs that continue to operate in violation of the law,” he said.
 
Drazkowski announced Tuesday during a Minnesota Capitol press conference that he plans to introduce a bill to shut down these programs. In an interview, he said these programs amount to corruption because all of the money collected from these classes goes straight into the cities and counties’ coffers.
 
“It’s all about the money for the local government,” he said. “The public’s trust has been violated by this and the law has been violated and the civil rights of those whose dollars were taken have been violated.”
(Rochester Post Bulletin)

Now why would local government units go renegade and get all entrepreneurial in everybody’s faces? Maybe because the MNGOP and Drazkowski repeatedly slashed LGA (Local Government Aid). It’s not like the potholes and poor cooperated with the MNGOP and The Draz and stopped being so needy when they slashed LGA year after year after year.
 
But here may be the real reason that The Draz temporarily halted his Get-Big-Government-Off-Our-Backs campaign:
 
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m4h--headshotEric Margolis is running to replace Rep. Steve Simon (DFL-St. Louis Park) since Simon is running for Minnesota Secretary of State. Margolis is the DFL’s State Outreach Director. Margolis faces Cheryl Youakim for the DFL endorsement. Considering this is a pretty blue district, the endorsement will likely be the stage that matters.
 
Read Margolis’ press release for yourselves.
 
“My first political memory is attending a rally or parade with my Dad,” Margolis said. “It was some sort of anti-antisemitism rally. I don’t remember all that much, I think I was pretty young.”
 
He was a software engineer for Orace for years. Then 9/11 happened. He survived the first round of lay-offs, but lost his job in 2002.
 
“35,000 people got laid off before me,” he explained. He’d moved from California to Detroit Lakes to marry another Oracle employee. In Detroit Lakes he was able to cobble together a bunch of IT consulting work to make a living. In 2004, his wife got a scholarship to go to Hamline University (she’d lost her job, too) so they moved to Hopkins.
 
“The IT consulting market in the Twin Cities was a lot more competitive,” Margolis said. “Eventually, I applied for a job at Walgreen’s making $7.45 to pay the bills.”
 
“I know what it’s like to try and get by on $7.45 an hour,” Margolis said. He never quite got enough hours to be considered full-time. “You make choices between paying a bill or buying groceries. Working at Walgreens also taught me a lot about my community.”
 
He keeps in touch with several people who still work at Walgreens. Their job horizon is small and grim. That experience fuels his drive to bring more people into the political process.
 
Margolis is an advocate for living wage jobs. But he looks at the problem holistically.
 
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Tony CornishYou can count on Rep. Tony Cornish (R-Good Thunder) to come up with the wrong solution to any problem. And often not just wrong, but jaw-dropping, bang-your-head-against-the-wall stupid as well. This time Cornish is aiming to solve violence against women. How stupid can he get?
 
Cornish has proposed bills to:

So this should come as no surprise:
 
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Bigots organize to stop anti-bullying bill

by The Big E on January 8, 2014 · 0 comments

bullying-stop-signDFL majorities in both the Minnesota House and Senate are poised to pass the Safe and Supportive Schools Act aka the anti-bullying bill. Currently, MN has some of the vaguest, weakest anti-bullying statutes in the nation. It’s time to make our schools safe for LGBT kids from bullying.
 
But the bigots aren’t going to take it lying down (or in any other position). They characterize the bill as “child exploitation:
 

“Children are following the pied piper of perversion,” says Barb Anderson, the leader of a group opposed to Minnesota’s anti-bullying bill.
 
The Minnesota Child Protection League is steadfastly against the Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools Act, a bill poised to pass the Minnesota Legislature in 2014. The bill’s advocates say it would strengthen the state’s anti-bullying laws so why is a group with “child protection” in the name opposed to stronger anti-bullying laws? Because the group is composed of conservative Christian activists opposed to LGBT rights.
 
Founded in August 2013 and led by Barb Anderson and members of Education Liberty Watch, the group has been touring the state at churches and Tea Party meetings, giving a presentation that is factually suspect and contains false stereotypes about LGBT people. At these meetings, they are rubbing elbows with Republican officials and candidates.

Andy Birkey details who’s who in this effort to keep LGBT students suffering. EdWatch, Michele Bachmann’s old group, is a big part as well as the Anoka nutjobs who have worked tirelessly to make sure the Anoka-Hennepin school district is a miserable place for the bullied.
 

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DrazkowskiHow can The Draz make the Sunday liquor sales debate embarrassing?
 
Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R-Mazeppa) has been behind some of the stupidest and craziest pieces of legislation to ever be considered at the Minnesota legislature.
 
Lately he’s been in the news for his mean-spirited, expensive and unconstitutional drug testing for government aid recipients. All because someone told him that welfare recipients are druggies.
 
But now The Draz will bring his Drazmataz to the Sunday liquor sales debate. And if he gets involved it can only mean that the debate will get insane and moronic:
 

Another attempt to end Minnesota’s ban on Sunday liquor sales will be mounted in the Legislature this session, and GOP state Rep. Steve Drazkowski of Mazeppa hopes to get the issue rolling with a town hall meeting later this month.
 
Legislators from both parties have supported ending the ban in the past, although not nearly enough of them to pass the legislation. Gov. Mark Dayton said recently that he’d support a bill that would end the ban.
 
Drazkowski will speak at the Minnesota Republican Liberty Caucus meeting at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 16 at the Mermaid Event Center in Mounds View.
(MinnPost)

Since The Draz doesn’t want drug addicts on welfare to shoot their welfare money straight “into their veins”, what will he do to prevent alcoholics on welfare from drinking up their welfare money on Sundays?
 

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grinch_santaRepublicans just love Christmas. They defend it to the edge of insanity and then over the edge. But the truth is their Christmas spirit and Christian charity only go so far. The truth is they are closer to the Grinch.
 
Hence the ghosts of Republican legislatures past is coming back to haunt Minnesota.
 
Republicans and then Governor Tim Pawlenty passed a bill so that starting in 2014, many seniors would lose their assistance for in home care and nursing care. But let the Minneapolis Star Tribune push the MNGOP talking points that Medicaid spending was running away instead of the truth:
 

The changes, which were adopted by the Legislature and signed into law by then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty in 2009 as part of a broader effort to rein in soaring Medi­caid spending, would have made it more difficult for low-income senior citizens with more limited needs to qualify for government supports that help them stay in their homes.
[my emphasis]

The truth is Republicans are happy to hurt kids, the poor, the mentally ill and seniors if it means protecting the magical job creators, i.e., the wealthy, from paying their fair share of taxes.
 
DFLers went along with this because at least the cuts weren’t going to happen immediately as Pawlenty and the MNGOP legislators forced through many immediate and draconian cuts to social services in 2009.
 
Thankfully, those bad days are gone and Gov. Mark Dayton comes to the rescue:
 
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DrazkowskiJust when you thought Minnesota was safe from right wing lunacy…
 
In 2011, Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R-Mazeppa) attached an amendment to the bill that re-opened state government here in Minnesota. He posed it as a “cost saving measure” and to keep welfare recipients from pumping welfare money “into their veins.” The amendment would force counties to search their databases and randomly drug test anyone with a felony who receives aid starting in 2014. In The Draz‘s fevered mind, anyone with a felony is a drug user. Or something.
 
Drazkowski had no proof, but facts have never gotten in the way of The Draz pushing his right wing lunacy.
 
Gov. Mark Dayton signed bill as the Republicans had already kept the government shut down for several weeks at that point.
 
Since The Draz got his amendment included, many states have discovered that drug testing aid recipients is expensive and catches a much smaller percentage of drug users than there are drug users amongst the general population.
 
How did this expensive, unconstitutional, pointless and mean-spirited measure actually get past the DFL-controlled legislature in 2013?
 
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David Hann: income inequality isn’t a bad thing

by The Big E on December 20, 2013 · 1 comment

Facepalm 42Hann

Sen. David Hann (R-Eden Prairie) is getting national attention for some not terribly smart comments he made at a recent hearing at the State Capitol. On Wednesday, a commission held a hearing on income inequality and how it is hurting the poor, working class and middle class. Hann said he didn’t think income inequality was that big of a problem.
 
This isn’t the first stupid thing that Hann has said or done. While chairing the committee that oversaw Minnesota’s health insurance industry, he took a job with an insurance firm. Then he tried to hide it. The other legislator who took the same job, resigned under pressure.
 
From botching simple tasks like dumping a nominee to demonstrating his mastery of failed messaging to boasting he increased spending (doesn’t the MNGOP want to reduce it?) to leading the fight against marriage equality, his reputation is becoming legendary.
 
Here’s Hann’s meandering, pseudo-intellectual skullduggery (my emphasis):
 

It would be interesting to have a chart to show…who pays taxes and where the tax money comes from. It … would probably look exactly the opposite, that the great proportion of the revenues government collects would come from this top end, with very little if any … at the lower end. You talk about where the money goes, and to suggest it would be good to eliminate or somehow minimize the top end would be an advantage to the government, I’m not so sure that would make sense.
 
As a thought experiment, let’s say we passed a policy in the state of Minnesota that said nobody could make more than $500,000 a year. I’m not suggesting we do that, but if we did that, it would certainly reduce the inequality gap, but all the people making over $500,000 a year would move out of state. And what would happen to the revenues to the state if we did that? I don’t think that would be a positive thing to the state of Minnesota to have that kind of policy on any level.
 
Again, my larger question is, it’s a great observation to point out there’s inequalities. And you said that your point is not that they should be the same, but it’s clearly the point that there’s bad things about inequality, and yet, I’m not so sure, not persuaded by your data, that that is a bad thing.

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