With the 2013 legislative session now behind us, the 2014 election campaign can begin in earnest. With major elections set for Governor, U.S. Senator, and the state House of Representatives, Minnesota’s voters have the opportunity to change the direction of the state’s politics for the third time in four years.
In the waning days of the Minnesota State Legislature’s 2013 session, unfinished business stemming from a Watchdog Minnesota investigation surfaced on the Senate floor. The issue: How to rein in a State Arts Board program that’s sent dozens of Minnesota artists on taxpayer-funded trips around the world?
“At a time when we’re asking taxpayers to do more with less, at a time when we are not funding road projects, at a time when we’re not funding libraries, members it’s time to ask ourselves if we need to be funding trips to Turkey,” said Assistant Minority Leader Sen. Michele Benson, R-Ham Lake, in floor debate. “Do we need to be funding trips to Paraguay, even trips to New York and Los Angeles…is it really a good use of taxpayer dollars?”
This just posted from TRN's JasonMatera:
Senator Franken says he's talked mainly to Minnesota press. We'll see how fast that develops... HT Breitbart
Quietly and in private, Governor Dayton today signed SF778, the bill designed to unionize home-based childcare providers and transfer up to $8 million a year to AFSCME, a government employee union. That new revenue stream the unions are banking on comes at the expense of low-income families receiving government assistance to help pay for childcare.
Governor Dayton reportedly had beforehand told childcare providers that they’d be contacted before he took action on the bill to let them know whether it would be a public signing. No such notice was apparently given.
Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:
Time for the monthly newsletter. Senator Franken’s projects and grades:
Preventing the Next Financial Collapse. Al is working on amendments to banking law relating to credit ratings. Sorry, Al, but phony credit ratings didn’t cause the collapse, that was a combination of existing government regulations: CRA forcing lenders to make bad loans in the name of affordable housing, FNMA downgrading its definition of “prime” to guarantee the bad loans, Chris Cox at SEC suddenly implementing “mark to market” rules that panicked investors and triggering Lehman Brothers bankruptcy. All those regulations remain so tinkering with credit rating law isn’t even closing the barn door after the horses are gone, it’s more like gilding the weather-vane on the barn roof, worse than useless. Grade: F.?
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.
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.
My family tradition going way back is a mix of hard work and hard play. We would do things like pull down the winter storm windows, clean the screens (turning the hose on nearby siblings) and get the house and boat ready for summer. Ah, here at last, but not quite. Memorial Day is (almost) always on the chilly side but that makes for good working and good eating weather. My parents always cooked up pancakes and bacon to reward their work crew. And then we'd take a spin on the lake (in ski jackets). With the work done, we'd break for the Memorial Day services, joining neighbors at church and city hall to greet one another after a long winter and to pray for the brave men and women who served our nation.
My kids do not know what a storm window is but hopefully they know a little about service and hard work!
The day after the session ended, the GOP and DFL took flight to give people their take on the session. As is tradition, the DFL bragged about all the great things they did while the GOP talked about the destruction that the DFL did. This chart shows how much people will get hurt from the DFL tax increase:
The Minnesota State Legislature ended its 2013 session with a hurried whimper, minutes before midnight on Monday, May 20th.
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.”