Another Lourey Prevails

With all precincts in Stuart “Stu” Lourey (DFL-11, Kerrick) wins over former KNBJR News Anchor Michelle Lee (DFL-11). by a margin of 235 votes. We had thought Lourey would win with 2/3rds of the precincts reported.

This means the February 5th will consist of Lourey, state Rep Jason Rarick (DFL-11B, Pine City) and John Birrenbach (LMN-11, Pine City).

Trump’s Brand=High-Risk/High Reward for Some, But Big Losses for Most

Minnesota Report

With the Federal Government Shutdown reaching day 32, its impact varies widely. The affects on Federal Government employees, by far being the greatest. This Mexican Stand-off rests in the hands of Donald J Trump (R) who said at the onset “I will own this government shutdown,” and its clear from polling the American public agrees with him.

As the two sides position like a high stakes’ poker game, the observers (government employees) are forced to watch and this is how Trump wants it, because all eyes are on him, the tough negotiator. Problem is many see him as holding a pair of ducks (duces) with very few options.

We believe this situation opens up insight into a growing public perception. Its not just that he is unhinged, but rather he makes bold moves with broad implications without having the wherewithal to give any thought to the implications of his actions, other than I did it, and watch me do my next trick.

This high-risk strategy may pay-off with high rewards, but if his negotiations with North Korea, tariff strategy with China, posturing with the European Union and now the stare down over his cards with House Speaker Nancy Pelowsi (D-CA12, San Francisco) or any other big move go south there are serious repercussions in response.

In investment, a high-risk may result in a high reward or a substantial loss. The diminishment of risk may mean a lesser return but a greater likelihood of success. If one looks to the tax cut passed by Trump and the Republicans in 2018 it is exactly what happened.

As we said at the top Trump=High-Risk/High Reward for Some.

Will the PUC Opening Provide Some Opportunities for Walz?

Minnesota Report

One of the best appointments is to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC). On January 7, 2019, PUC Chair Nancy Lange’s term ended. Unless she is reappointed the position the vacancy may offer up some political opportunies for Governor Tim Walz (DFL-MN). Since his election he has been badgered by oppoients to the Endbridge Line 3 replacement. This vacancy could help mitigate this issue and provide some opportunities for fresh blood, or additional openings for others.

We understand Sen Dave Tomassoni (DFL-06, Chisholm) is showing interest as is former Rep Carly Melin (DFL-Hibbing), who is now Executive Director of the Minnesota Building & Trades. We expect Tomassoni might inflame the protestors. Other names being discussed are former Rep and 8th Congressional District Primary candidate Jason Metsa (DFL-Virginia). Metsa’s name crops up as a replacement for Tomassoni if he gets the nod.

The list of applicants is long and include environmental activist . Other notables include state Rep Ray Dehn (DFL-59B, Minneapolis), who has acknowledged he is not likely long for his seat, former state Senator Paul Koering (I-Brainerd), and former House Assistant Chief Deputy Clerk Teresa Kittridge.

Here is the entire list.

Developments in Senate District 11’s Special Election

Minnesota Report

On Saturday, former KBJR News Anchor and female bodybuilder Michelle Lee (DFL-11) received the DFL endorsement for the open seat and today is the Primary. We thought this was surprising because in 2018, when she sought the DFL endorsement for the 8th Congressional district seat she scolded the delegates because they didn’t support her candidacy, but the endorsement might have been more about the perception of a Lourey dynasty rather than her campaign.

With the endorsement occurring a mere four days before the Primary it may have a diminished impact, which might be the reason it was scheduled as it was. Lee received the endorsement on the 2nd ballot after getting close on the first. Her opponent Stuart “Stu” Lourey (DFL-11, Kerrick) withdrew and conceded the day to her.

Rarick Saves Birrenbach the Effort

Minnesota Report

We learned something interesting on Friday. It appears the Rep Jason Rarick’s (R-11B, Pine City) state Senate campaign has sent a mailing districtwide to all of the registered voters. The mailing contains a request form for an absentee ballot. The reason we speculate is because one of the mailers arrived at the door of Legalize Marijuana Now endorsed candidate John Birrenbach (LMN-11, Pine City). See the first photo for the addressee.

This doesn’t appear to be a violation of any kind just a service provided by the Republican Party candidate, for which Birrenbach is appreciative. Since both Rarick and Birrenbach are in the southern portion of the senate district we will see how well the legalization issue strikes with the hardline Republican voters, especially those of a more libertarian approach to government.
We have included copies of the entire mailing for you to see.

Now if copies of Rarick’s Legislative Update appear in the 11A side of the district there might be something worth noting.




Are There Any Good Results for Bakk in the Senate District 11 Special Election?

Minnesota Report

When Governor Tim Walz (DFL-MN) tapped state Sen Tony Lourey (DFL-11, Kerrick) for the Human Service Commissioner job it created a clear issue for Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk (DFl-03, Cook). Now, as things have come to play out we are hard pressed to see how Bakk can benefit significantly from any result.

To start with, Bakk had to deal with Lourey when he was in the caucus and Lourey even challenged him for the Majority Leader’s position, but wasn’t able to drum up the votes. Now, if Rep. Jason Rarick (R-11B, Pine City) gains the seat the margin in the caucus expands to two seats and that means Bakk’s negotiating role is further diminished.

If Michelle Lee (DFL-11) first prevails in the Primary and them wins the General Election she has already taken positions on environmental issues that will further create tensions in the DFL Caucus over Enbridge Line 3, PolyMet and Twin Metals.
Finally, if Stuart “Stu” Lourey (DFL-11, Kerrick) we would expect the sentiments his father and maybe even his grandmother former state Senator Becky Lourey (DFL-Kerrick) have might be nascent.  Although, if the DFL Senate Caucus under the guidance on Mike “Kenner” Kennedy prevail either Lee or Lourey might have different feelings.

2019 Legislative Session Opening

Minnesota Report

The first steps in the legislative process each session is the installation of leadership and staff followed by temporary rules. Normally, this is a pro forma process, because the decisions on these questions were largely made in the results of the election.

In the Senate, everything moved forward as expected. Because Republicans hold a 34-32 vote majority (pending a Special Election in Senate District 11) they hold total control, yes, there were questions by the Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk (DFL-03, Cook) about the composition of the Senate Committees and the large number of majority members compared to the minority members when the margin between the two sides is not so vast. Well, the lesson here is one well known, To the Victor Goes the Spoils and in this case, the spoils are the ability to write the rules.

In the House, the bulk of the activity was mostly expected. In the Speaker’s election Rep Melissa Hortman (DFL-36B, Brooklyn Park) received the bulk of her caucuses support. Rep Robert Bierman (DFL-57B, Apple Valley) was absent due to illness and Rep Alice Hausman (DFL-66A, St Paul) also said she was feeling ill, and missed the vote. Many thought, because Hortman had reassigned Hausman from Chair of the Capital Investment Committee to Housing, due to her decision to negotiate with the Republican Majority on the Bonding Bill against the wishes of Hortman, last session.

Additionally, the Four Horseman, Reps Steve Drazkowski (R-21B, Mazeppa), Tim Miller (R-17A, Prinsburg), Calvin Bahr (R-31B, East Bethel) and Jeremy Munson (R-23B, Lake Crystal) were joined by Rep Eric Lucero (R-30B, Dayton) in passing on the vote for Rep Kurt Daudt (R31A, Crown).

Later during the debate on the Temporary Rules Daudt threw a wrench into the works by challenging the proposed Rules as creating a black hole for a public view of legislation when a change in the process allows bills to be moved between committees not by actions on the house floor, but rather in the Ways and Means Committee. One clear message Daudt is getting, loud and clear is you may have a microphone on the floor, but not the votes to carry your voice far beyond the chamber.

We have a scheduled interview with Ways and Means Chairman Lyndon Carlson (DFL-45A, Crystal) on Friday and we will be able to flesh out the details of the new process during that time.

Stay tuned for the Carlson Interview.

Senate District 11 Special Election Update 01/09/2019

Minnesota Report

Last night, the Republican Senate District 11 Central Committee met and endorsed Rep Jason Rarick (R-11B, Pine City) for the Senate 11 seat with 64%. This also cleared the field of opposition candidates, because his challengers are withdrawing their names from the ballot, meaning there will not be a Primary on the GOP side.

Additionally, Rarick provides a few challenges for the House of Labor because as an Electrician and an IBEW 110 member, Rarick has captured a block of support traditionally, in the DFL hands. We are interested in where other parts of organized labor weigh in. We hear there is a bit of posturing by Intl Union of Operating Engineers Local 49, who we understand, are open to supporting Rarick, which is a surprise since they support a gas tax increase, which Rarick has voted against. We also understand the Engineers have been told by Sen Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-13, Nisswa he has another funding mechanism for road bridge construction.

It is clear the House of Labor is divided because Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk (DFL-03, Cook), as a former Business Agent for the Carpenter’s Union sees the need for retention of a one-vote minority as paramount to having as much leverage as possible in negotiations with Gazelka. The difference one vote makes is significant. It also is a major issue in the negotiations between the Republican-controlled Senate and Governor Tim Walz (DFL-MN) who is also proposing a gas tax increase.

We are awaiting other portions of this question, and where the different labor groups line up. We expect the Federation of Teachers will back the DFL candidate that emerges from the Primary. Basing endorsements on long-standing relationships we would expect the North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters will align similarly, but the question over whether the other members of the Building Trades follow suit, where will the Laborers, the Painters, and the Steelworkers weigh in. Not to mention, MAPE, SEIU, and AFSCME. Because this is a Special Election their contacts in the labor community will be invaluable. We also will not be surprised to see the different unions wait until after the January 22nd Primary and see which DFL candidate emerges on their own. We always believe if you beat someone in an internal contest you, as a candidate, become stronger for the effort.

One major point of all elections following vacancies is what we like to call the Domino effect. This situation is a prime example. Because Sen Tony Lourey (DFL-11, Kerrick) was appointed he set the dominos in motion, resulting in an opening for a House member to seek the seat and if Rarick were to obtain it then another Special Election would ensue. If that election resulted in a local mayor, city councilor or school board member obtaining the seat then another seat would require filling.

All that said, the appointment by Walz comes at a cost, which is near $100,000 for a Senate Special Election and then if the House seat were to open another approximately $75,000 election. This means a victory by Rarick would come at an additional cost.

Seems like the question over fiscal responsibility is in play and if people like Rarick he could stay put and they would get the same situation as they would if he lost. The advantage clearly lies with Rarick he gets to vie for the seat at no significant cost to himself because it is picked up by the local taxpayers.

Our Gas Tax Alternative, Minnesota Mileage Fee

Checks & Balances is also associated with accounting practices as well as a system of divided government. In that vein, we believe we have a long-term solution for a stable funding source for transportation. Our concept is not to violate a person’s privacy in their vehicle but rather allow them to document their mileage on an annual basis when they purchase their license tabs. We call it the Minnesota Mileage fee. If the requirement is to require the number of miles on the vehicle then have a payment system that accesses the fees to be paid based on mileage the forthcoming year it will help to reduce use, ensure payment for actual use and enable the installation of a system that derives revenue no matter what type of fuel system is used. This system can also be enforced if the mileage is documented during every traffic stop, even if the driver is given a warning.

Now, we know government officials might want to install a mileage tracking mechanism, which they will likely provide for free, but that is also a tool for law enforcement to cite you for speeding, going through a red light or rolling through a stop sign. Once a GPS tracker is in your car the sky is the limit, oh wait it already is in your cell phone.

Of course, we expect there will be an argument about what if I drive out-of-state, I shouldn’t be charged for that mileage by Minnesota, and we agree. This means a record of out-of-state travel should be logged and provided to offset the annual mileage amount. We would not be surprised if people who travel north to Duluth from the Twin Cities cross over to Wisconsin at Hudson or Grantsburg if they want to save some money and drive north up WI 35 as opposed to MN 35, but at least this is a system the better reflects the changes in the technology and allows for a capturing of the costs born through the wear and tear of each vehicle.

Installation of New Governor and All Constitutional Officers

Minnesota Report

Governor-elect Tim Walz (DFL-MN), Lt Governor Peggy Flanagan (DFL-MN), Attorney-election Keith Ellison (DFL-MN), Secretary of State Steve Simon (DFL-MN), and State Auditor-elect Julie Blaha (DFL-MN) all will be sworn in at the ceremony at the Fitzgerald Theater, in St Paul at 11:00 am. This will be followed by a reception in the State Capitol Rotunda at 3-5 pm where the public can greet the new members of the Executive Branch.

Later the DFL House and Senate Caucuses are holding fundraisers at the St Paul Hotel from 4-6 pm and State Rep John Lesch (DFL-66B, St Paul) is hosting his own down the street 6-8 pm at Lesch & Duren LLP law offices, located at 6 West 5th Street in downtown Saint Paul.

Since legislators are barred from taking contributions from lobbyists during the legislative session this is the last opportunity for filling the coffers from the political professionals who have made their trade as informational brokers.

Knoblach Not Seeking Reelection

Rep Jim Knoblach (R-14N St Cloud) announced today he is withdrawing from his candidacy for reelection citing an MPR story in which his daughter Laura alleges an abusive relationship since the age of nine. For the record Checks & Balances is the first media resource to...

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 which...

The Two Realities of Tim Pawlenty

During his administration, Governor Tim Pawlenty (R) created consistent deficits. Each year he controlled the budget the numbers didn’t add up. In response to the first deficit, his fiscal wizardry decided to rob the Tobacco Settlement and use the endowment, as...

Trump’s Increased Deportation of Immigrant Americans

Minnesota could be dramatically affected by the stepped-up activity of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) by direction of Donald J Trump (R) and this issue warrants serious corrective action in Congress. Here is a press release from the incoming DFL...

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Announcement of Asian Pacific Caucus

The 2018 election will bring the total of Asian Pacific Community legislative members up from 2 to 6 and they will seek opportunities to coalesce and share knowledge with fellow members.  We received this press release. Slate of newly elected Asian American state...

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St Paul City Council Seeks Interim Member

The announcement of St Paul City Council member by Dan Bostrom’s (Ward 6, DFL-St Paul) early retirement didn’t come as a surprise to us, we asked about such an occurrence from his staff Scott Renstrom and received a political answer and suggestion we speak with the...

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Sticking with the Moniker Scheme

We are trying to find a good reference or a nickname incoming for Speaker Melissa Hortman (DFL-36B, Brooklyn Park). Because of her ice in the veins style, we thought something inline with the Elsa (Frozen) might be in the right vein, and then Ravenna, Evil Queen i.e....

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