The Minnesota State Legislature ended its 2013 session with a hurried whimper, minutes before midnight on Monday, May 20th.
If there is one word to describe this years legislative session, it is overreach. The Democrat majorities in St. Paul appear to have realized that this was their once in a generation opportunity to have carte blanch, with total control of the capitol and governors mansion. One of the few positive takeaways from this session is that their disarray led to them running out of time on some of their worst legislative projects.
Saint Paul is considering street cars as a transit option.
No, you didn’t accidentally land at The Onion.
The city has a nice series of slides, Streetcar 101, to explain all of the benefits of streetcars.
It's all going so well:
The Obama administration said Monday that it was cutting payments to doctors and hospitals after finding that cost overruns are threatening to use up the money available in a health insurance program for people with cancer, heart disease and other serious illnesses.
The administration had predicted that up to 400,000 people would enroll in the program, created by the 2010 health care law. In fact, about 135,000 have enrolled, but the cost of their claims has far exceeded White House estimates, exhausting most of the $5 billion provided by Congress.
Despite significant opposition from affected citizens, the Legislature rewarded a multi-year campaign by public unions AFSCME and SEIU to open the door to the unionization of both day care workers and personal care attendants (PCAs or home health care aides). The bill, which passed largely along partisan lines, is expected to be signed by Gov. Dayton. It allows for providers who receive a state subsidy to care for children from low income families (CCAP funds) or a subsidy to care for people in their homes to vote on whether or not to select a public union as an exclusive representative for bargaining with the state.
AFSCME and SEIU carved up the spoils with AFSCME getting the day care industry and SEIU getting home health care aides. (Note: most of the media coverage has focused on day care but it also grabs this second sector---and no doubt is in search of more dues-paying members from the private sector who receive some kind of state subsidy.)
Joe Doakes from Como Park emails, channeling Will Rogers:
The woman who was in charge of the unit that delayed conservative groups their tax exempt status has been promoted.
She’s now in charge of Obamacare, where she has the power to delay conservatives health insurance reimbursement for medical treatments.
Even as the Minnesota Legislature passed a bitterly contested bill Monday authorizing a vote among home-based child care business owners and personal health care attendants on a collective bargaining unit, union opponents already were preparing to mount a constitutional challenge.
“We haven’t fought this for eight years to let this die now. You will see us in court,” said Becky Swanson, a child care owner and provider who was part of a 2010 case that struck down a 2011 gubernatorial executive order for a union election. The court ruled the matter should be decided by the Legislature.
For over 7 years, the government employee unions have been trying to force home-based childcare providers to join them and start paying dues, or so-called “fair share fees.” The providers keep throwing them back, most recently winning a lawsuit to halt Governor Dayton’s illegal executive order to unionize them.
SEIU and AFSCME’s latest effort to refill their depleted coffers (from massive political campaign spending) on the backs of childcare providers and low-income families is being done in the legislature, where Democrat leaders (and staunch union allies) have made unionizing these independent small business owners their number one priority this session.
The town of Moore has been all but demolished by a horrifically strong tornado that stayed on the ground for more than 40 minutes, chewing up buildings and spewing debris throughout the area. The confirmed death toll is bad enough, but it’s expected to rise as rescuers sweep what remains of Moore:
With Minnesota’s 2013 legislative session in the books, it’s time to total up the DFL’s damage to Minnesota’s economy. The tax increases will hurt Minnesota’s economy the most are the business-to-business sales taxes on warehousing and telecommunications. The warehouse tax has been tried in several states, including Massachusetts. It’s been quickly repealed because it does lots of damage in a short period of time. I suspect that the DFL will repeal the warehousing tax early next session. If they don’t, the damage that tax will do will be considerable, both in terms of economic damage and in political terms.
What happens when you have lobbying organizations outnumbering state legislators by a 6 to 1 margin?In this Part 3 of the behind-the-scenes series on what’s wrong with Minnesota government, we turn our attention to the role of lobbying at the state legislature. I began this series by posting the question of “What’s wrong with Minnesota government?” and answering it with “private benefits, public costs.”By “private,” I don’t always mean “corporate.” By “corporate,” I don’t always mean “for-profit.”
If you feel like you may be getting whiplash from all of the spin on the IRS scandal, it just means you’re paying attention. Over the weekend, people had a tough time keeping the story straight — even within a single newspaper. On Friday, the Washington Post reported from their sources within the Cincinnati office of the IRS that the low-level employees just followed orders from their bosses, rather than going rogue as the administration suggests (via Sean Higgins, emphasis mine):
As could be expected, the folks in the determinations unit on Main Street have had trouble concentrating this week. Number crunchers, whose work is nonpolitical, don’t necessarily enjoy the spotlight, especially when the media and the public assume they’re engaged in partisan villainy.
“We’re not political,’’ said one determinations staffer in khakis as he left work late Tuesday afternoon. “We people on the local level are doing what we are supposed to do. . . . That’s why there are so many people here who are flustered. Everything comes from the top. We don’t have any authority to make those decisions without someone signing off on them. There has to be a directive.”
The Wall Street Journal reports that the White House counsel was advised of the Inspector General’s audit findings weeks ago. Doug Ross has compiled a useful IRS scandal timeline into which this latest tidbit fits.
A friend with substantial experience as a chief executive officer looks back on what we have learned to date about the IRS harassment of Obama administration political opponents. He raises the issue of executive responsibility:
The media is doing its best to help Governor Dayton and the DFL Majorities in the Legislature dramatically increase spending and taxes with out the public realizing. I think its critical to remind people of what happened under Republicans since they DFL slimed them to win the 2012 Elections and majorities.
The same DFL employees who gave us “E-Pulltabs” as a means of supplying “the state’s share” of an extorted payoff to an out-of-state billionaire for his real-estate upgrade (which fell 95% short of predictions, as predicted by certain right-wing bloggers) are going to try to take a mulligan and get it right on the second try, says this piece from the MinnPost’s James Nord:
The governor’s proposal would increase the cigarette tax from $1.23 per pack to $2.52 per pack – a larger jump than the 94-cent target he’d earlier proposed — and would require retailers and wholesalers to make a one-time payment on existing inventory that would funnel $24.5 million into the stadium reserve account, solving the shortfall there.
Where have we seen this before?
My daughter Eliana has a carefully reported piece at NRO on the IRS scandal that was posted late yesterday afternoon. The piece is titled “Oversight from Washington, all along.” I hesitate to highlight or praise the work of my own daughter, but Hugh Hewitt is under no such inhibition.
Hugh praises the work of Eliana as well as that of his Townhall colleague Carol Platt Liebau as “The real reporting on the IRS.” (Carol’s most recent column is “Taking the Fifth.”) Hugh brings the eye of an educated observer to his assessment:
Did your salary rise 8% last year?
Why, no – I’ll bet it held even if you were lucky and dropped if you weren’t.
Did the state or national economygrow 8%?
Tuesday morning, GOP legislators, led by House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt and Senate Minority Leader David Hann, visited the St. Cloud Regional Airport to discuss the just-ended session. After brief presentations by Daudt and Hann, they opened things up for questions.
Rep. Daudt first noted that the DFL legislature raised taxes by “$2.1 billion” and fees by another $300,000,000. Sen. Hann and Rep. Daudt both talked about not needing that tax increase to solve a $627,000,000 deficit. Both legislators spoke about the need to spend money more wisely, with Sen. Hann noting that the DFL didn’t include any reforms in their budget or policy bills.
I've had more than a few people ask me why I rail against Chicago politics so often. I lived in the Chicago area for five years, from 1987 through 1992, and I got a good look at what it's like there. Chicago is a great place to visit and it can be a fine place to live, so long as you understand, and are willing to accept, a few things. John Kass of the Chicago Tribune shares an example:One Sunday, I must have been 12 or 13, I decided to ask what I thought was an intelligent question that was something like this:
We talk politics every Sunday, we fight about this and that, so why aren't you politically active outside?
I’m not talking about conservative publications either, but outlets that normally would allow Barack Obama and his team the benefit of the doubt. Bloomberg starts us off with a straight report on the changing explanations:
Carney said Ruemmler was informed by the Treasury Department’s General Counsel’s office April 24 that the Inspector General for Tax Administration was completing a report that found that IRS employees improperly scrutinized political organizations seeking tax exempt status by searching their applications for words including “Tea Party” and “patriot.”
Having lived through the Watergate scandal and the impeachment of President Nixon, I recall that one conservative journalist stood out from the pack. As the Washington columnist for National Review, George Will regularly exposed the Nixon administration’s lines of defense as the lies that they were. He distinguished himself both for his merciless analytical rigor and his skills as an anatomist.
Will was in the infancy of his now long and distinguished journalistic career. He had joined National Review in 1972, just in time take a front row seat from the beginning of the scandal. By 1973 he was devoting every one of his biweekly NR Washington columns to a dissection of the administration’s evolving “hangouts,” limited, modified or otherwise.
Not sure what MNGOP representative said that, but it may be the iconic statement about this past session. It was a five month union pork orgy.
Here’s the moment when the vote passed on Monday, 68-66, after the DFL waited on the vote until the crowd of daycare providers wod stood vigil all weekend ahead to go to work, and the galleries were packed with union droogs:
New poster I made tonight for Minnesota Action Network celebrating the horror show that is the DFL ultramajority budget—Minnesota's Monster Budget.
The Minnesota legislature has finally passed their budget for the next two years. It scares us, and it should scare you.
Does it surprise you that Gov. Mark Dayton is running 3.8 million in the red and no one is reporting on it?
To see what we are talking about check the bottom of page 2 in the report below.
How about we take a break from the daily outrages perpetrated by the DFL Legislature, and have a little chuckle at the poor doomsayers at the Church of Global Warming? It seems that Mother Earth has not been cooperating since 1998 and, while CO2 in the atmosphere continues to increase, global temperatures have refused to go up and, depending upon how and where you measure (Anchorage Alaska just set a new record for the longest snow season, and hundreds of cities recently set new low-temperature records), may actually be colder than before.
Ignore all that, say these "scientists," because even if our projections are total crap in the short term, they are still going to be accurate over the long term. Somehow, that sounds a lot like the methodology I have heard for predicting what the Stock Market will do: "A trend will continue until it changes." For some reason, these fearful folks won't even recognize the truth of that theory.
Twin Cities media outlets are trumpeting a provision of the state education bill on its way to Gov. Mark Dayton with the headline "free all-day kindergarten."
Well, it is "free" — to everyone but the taxpayers.
We can debate the efficacy of early childhood education for all, but there still is no such thing as "free" all-day K, and it's actually worse than that. The Legislature's appropriation for all-day K doesn't fully fund it. The rest of the tab for "free" all-day K will fall on local school districts.
Remember the White House war on Fox News in 2009? By the fall of that year, it had collapsed from overreach; after attempting to block Fox from participating in pool coverage, the rest of the White House press corps revolted, forcing Anita Dunn and others into retreat. Apparently, the Obama administration found a way to wage that war by other means. The Washington Post reports that the Department of Justice spied on James Rosen, Fox’s Washington correspondent, in 2010:
When the Justice Department began investigating possible leaks of classified information about North Korea in 2009, investigators did more than obtain telephone records of a working journalist suspected of receiving the secret material.