Walz Executive Orders During Pandemic

Minnesota Report

As we are in the midst of the second week of the Stay at Home Executive Order 20-20 more orders are coming from Governor Tim Walz (DFL-MN) to stipulate what options are available to our state’s citizens. Today, Executive Order 20-25 Authorizing Peace Officers, Firefighters, and Security-Related Licensing Boards to Modify Requirements During the COVID-19 Peacetime Emergency and Executive Order 20-26 Ensuring Continuing Operations of the Medical Cannabis Program during the COVID-19 Peacetime Emergency were released and we expect more to follow.

To see the entirety of the list click here https://mn.gov/governor/news/executiveorders.jsp

Trump Following a Good Idea from Pelosi

National Report

The day Donald J Trump (R) signed Families First Coronavirus Response Act, the COVID-19 Response Bill in a White House signing ceremony, which no Democrats were invited to attend, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA12) was discussing the next legislation which would focus on Infrastructure. This week Trump is parroting the same idea. We remember, during her first term, she advanced the idea, reflective of how things are done here in Minnesota, of having both a Capital Budget and a Operating Budget.

If Trump follows her lead on this idea, he might actually do something beneficial for our nation for the first time since he has been in office. He has talked about a public/private partnership and if it results in the Federal Government selling bond for infrastructure projects it will create a new market and pump more money into the system.

The Return of a Ranked Choice Voting Ban

Minnesota Report

We spoke with State Government Finance and Policy and Elections Committee Chair Mary Kiffmeyer (R-30, Big Lake) and learned she will be revisiting Sen Mark Koran’s (R-32, North Branch) bill SF3385 Ranked-choice voting local government adoption prohibition. We have been assured this will make it to the floor and since its original introduction Senators Tom Bakk (DFL-03, Cook) and David Tomassoni (DFL-06, Chisholm) has signed onto the bill as co-authors.

We also know they will be other DFL votes for this when it arrives on the floor and do not be surprised but there will be Senators from communities that vote in this fashion who may show the bravery to vote for the bill.

The opposite position HF0983 Authored by Rep Steve Elkins (DFL-49B, Edina) passed out of the Government Operations Subcommittee on Elections.

Expectations on Budget Forecast, Prior to Announcement

Minnesota Report

We are expecting a February Budget Forecast to be largely inline with the November Forecast. The quarterly report released by Minnesota Management & Budget Office showed a slight improvement on receipts, but some corporate figures are expected in the first quarter of this year due to an alignment with Federal reporting. MMB Report

With the release of the February Budget Forecast, legislators can have their final numbers to calculate for their own budgeting. This forecast will not include any effects from the Coronavirus, because the calculations occurred before the outbreak and may call for additional cautions.

What: 2020 February Budget and Economic Forecast
Where: Dept. of Revenue, Skjegstad Room (2000), 600 Robert St. N., St. Paul, MN 55101
When: Thursday, February 27 at 11:15 a.m.

House Votes on Insulin and Presidential Primary

Minnesota Report

Last night, the Minnesota House passed two bills, HF3100 establishing an Emergency Insulin program 75-52 and HF3068 regulating the Presidential Primary results 72-55. Both set up a conflict with the Senate.

In regards to Insulin the DFL wants the companies, which have generated significant profits by elevating the costs of what used to be a relatively affordable lifesaving drug. The Senate is proposing a mechanism through which the companies can provide a voucher, which provides an opportunity for a write-off.

The Presidential Primary data issue is one that may have more opportunities for compromise, but the sticking point will be with former Secretary of State, Sen Mary Kiffmeyer (R-30, Big Lake), who is consciously aware of the system as constructed since she played a major role in the current legislation.

Kiffmeyer is quite in tune with the various effects changes in the electoral process have on her political party and some other admendments to election law might be a way to soften her opposition. She has shown an interest in the creation of “provisional ballots” rather than the allowance of Same Day registrants to be automatically added into the voting result. She also is a stringent opponent to Ranked Choice Voting, HF3365 which is Rep Steve Elkins (DFL-49B, Edina) Bill, and a ban on this process in the entire state would likely create a warming trend to other electoral issues, with her.

Since this is an election year all legislators are hyper-sensitive to any electoral changes because they will need to adapt their campaigns, which are underway to any different processes.

We spoke with Secretary of State Steve Simon (DFL-MN) about the timing of changes to distribution of the Presidential Primary data and he said, the counties have ten weeks to provide, but also can ask for a four week extension so the expectation being the data will not be available until early May. In a conversation with another reporter he related a comment by DFL Party Chair Ken Martin, the the DFL doesn’t actually need this data because they know largely how the electorate responds from their access to the VAN (Voter Action Network).

Expressing the Need for Two Separate Figures in Budget Forecasting

Minnesota Report

Since 2002, under the Administration of Governor Jesse Ventura (I-MN) Budget Forecasts have not included inflation and have largely been a misrepresentations of the true cost of of Minnesota government. In her bill, HF150 Rep Jennifer Schultz (DFL-07A, Duluth) calls for “Inflation rate inclusion in state forecast required.”

This would be a significant change in the forecasting process, because of recent history, but no untoward. In her non-legislative job Schultz teaches Economics at a the University of Minnesota, Duluth and this honest change seems worthy. The problems is Republicans in the Senate may see things far differently because collectively Republicans believe inclusion of inflation in projected spending “ puts government on autopilot” and obligates future legislatures to specific spending figures. Ironically, they do include inflation on the revenue side of the equation.

We suggest a valued compromise to be the reporting of two figures, one with and the other without inflation by the forecasting company employed by the MInnesota Management & Budget Office. The order of the reporting should be published as we stipulated and the debate over what the figures mean globally can be discussed with complete disclosure infinitum.

 

UCARE in the Crosshairs Over Their False Claims of Somali Interpreter Fraud

Minnesota Report

On Wednesday 50 Somali Interpreters and their supporters will stage a protest outside the UCARE Corporate Offices on Stinson Blvd, Minneapolis. They will not be there to get on the multi-seat bicycle, but rather to decry the companies misrepresentation of their work, their suspension and challenging the allegations UCARE advanced to the State Attorney General’s Office of multiple billing and fraud.

In response Attorney General Keith Ellison’s Office (DFL) has sent letters to the alleged, who seek to clear their names and has said they see no signs of inaccurate billing or fraud. The actions by UCARE open them up to suit for defamation, libel and damages.

In preparation Omar Jamal is organizing the effort and the group will create press availability and state their case later int he day.

 

Will Minnesota Save the Sail?

Minnesota Report

The US Navy saw fit to name only one of its 33 Los Angeles-class submarines after two cities when commissioning the USS Minneapolis-St Paul (SSN-708). Submarines get attention. This one is a unique symbol and should be saved. But “The Mighty MSP” is headed for the almighty scrap heap—next year—unless a local group called the Minnesota Submarine League is able to build support and bring declassified structures of the historic vessel here to Minnesota.
Minnesota’s Submarine League was just informed last week that the former Minneapolis-Saint Paul is now in the recycling process and next up in the demolition queue. Meaning, the asset will be scrapped in 2021. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the state to own a cultural icon of economic value to the future will be lost.
The group anticipated they would have more time to build support and raise funds for a futuristic sea-services center, showcasing Minnesota’s creativity and benefitting all maritime veterans and occupations: Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, and the Merchant Marines. The expo will feature “the sail,” i.e. the submarine’s bridge and conning tower, and rudder in a bow wave pool as if underway. The best part of the plan: The Navy will hand over the asset for the weighty sum of $1.00.
The USS New Jersey battleship is now in Camden, New Jersey. The USS Iowa is represented as a 1/4-scale model in the Iowa State Capitol in an award-winning exhibit for tour. With a little bit of work, this Minnesota namesake can be available to the public somewhere close to the borders of Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Why not at the Minnesota State Fair? Or in the World’s Fair Expo 2027 bid? One high-tech design challenge turns a new state icon into an immersive virtual-reality experience for everyone, all year round.

Those who remember Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea will appreciate the idea.

Minneapolis/St Paul Wikipedia

Here is a concept animation

 

St Paul Delegation Welcome Back Legislators Reception

Minnesota Report

On Wednesday February 26th, from 5-7:30 pm the St Paul Legislative delegation is hosting a reception in the Stadium Club at Allianz Field for the rest of the legislature and the political community. This is one of the premier social events during the legislative session. Previously it has been held at the Ordway, but now elected officials from across the state can see what a top-line soccer facility looks like.

Our Collective Societal Response to the Coronavirus

National Report This is happening worldwide, in Washington DC, in our state Capitols, in every branch of government and in our businesses and homes. The rhetoric is clear we are all in this together, but it is the content of our character that will determine how we...

The Coming of the Four Horsemen

If you want to be memorable in Minnesota State Capitol politics it is good if you are referred to as something other than your name. It is often helpful when a term or a phrase can be applied to your, group, issue or initiative. If you want to be known as something...

NPR Censors Opposition Comments on RCV

The NPR show 1A ran a program on Ranked Choice Voting today, and Checks & Balances Publisher Shawn Towle sought a spot on the panel. When called back by producer Andi McDaniel he was informed the panel was full but could submit a comment through the voicemail...

Showing Democrats Can Lead

National Report House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA06) is in a uniquely favorable position in this time of crisis, because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (D-KY) is unable to advance items off of the Senate floor due to the self-quarantine of fine Republican US...

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