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 else, then someone else needs to give to your handle or it is invalid and won’t become a part of the political parlance. We were the ones to coin the name Speaker MAK (Mack) former Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher (DFL-Minneapolis) and she ran with it.

When we learned about the splinter caucus being called the generic New Republican Caucus made up of Reps Steve Drazkowski (R-21B, Mazeppa), Tim Miller (R-17A, Prinsburg), Calvin Bahr (R-31B, East Bethel) and freshman Jeremy Munson (R-23B, Lake Crystal) we figured the needed a handle. We first the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to be apt. They seem to be spelling doom on now Speaker soon to be Minority Leader Kurt Daudt (R-31A Crown). When we spoke with Drazkowski we asked him how long has he had issues with Daudt? He said, “I have had problems with Daudt since he had been in leadership.” This means the animus has existed since 2013. Now back to the Four Horsemen.

As the passage says in the King James version of the bible.  

And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see.

And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.

And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see.

And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.

And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand.

And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.

And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see.

Now the question is who gets which role. As the senior member, Drazkowski appears to be the leader, though he has said they haven’t designated a leader yet. Now, we know the four to be Pestilence (Conquest), War, Famine, and Death. So, who would get which role in this interesting cast of characters? Since this is a divisive maneuver Drazkowski gets Pestilence i.e. Conquest.

We hear a familiar idea in the corridor of the House when one member who will not be named at this time, said the group should have a name, like a band and he said No Daudt. Now, we will say that is not a unique idea we have thought that was the perfect sign idea for any candidate running against Daudt for years. In fact, In this article, you will see how the Tea Party, ones who supported Bahr and Daudt’s PRimary opponent Alan Duff (R) in 2016 parked a white panel van outside of his district..

We also understand there have been repercussions to the split faction. Daudt has directed legislative House staff not do any work for these four legislators. This means the residents of districts 21B, 17A, 31B, and 23B or approximately 164,400 people have no constituent services.

We expect the reason there will be no holiday party is the party people in Senate district 31 are just polar opposites.

Now, that’s sour grapes.

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. Snow White, or Aurora of Alpha Flight one half of the twin team on Alpha Flight in Marvel Comics.

But, we thought better and yes, for those who want to be haters they will see this as having racial overtones, but we think White Queen is a great reference when thinking of Chess, because the white side makes the first moves and because the House is the body of origin for all fiscal bills we thought a powerful reference was most apt in this instance and since Hortman is set to become the second most powerful in Minnesota state government we figured it might stick. Now, the dualistic aspect of the job of Speaker also includes being able to have a strong response and we thought if she were to get mad she could be seen as the Queen of Hearts and the “Off with their heads.”

Over the course of time, we have happened across different monikers that we appreciate. Few remember Rep Bob McEachern (DFL-Foley) first called Chief Fiscal Analyst Bill Marx (Radar) but we do, and still use it. Many still call former Rep Phil Krinkie (R-Shoreview) Dr No, though we have heard the staunch opponent to Light Rail Transit has been sighted getting off of the Green Line at the Bank Stadium, they also had a group name for his associates who pain Speaker Steve “Sviggy” Sviggum (R-Kenyon), the Krinkie 11, because he regularly carried eleven votes on the House Floor. We remember when Rep Greg Davids (R-28B, Preston) and member of the House Republicans “Dog Pound” once sought the coinage of some moniker like the Butcher because he was going to remove all of the pork from the system, we did not provide the support concept.

So if you want to have any staying power do something interesting and your colleagues will reward you with a notable title.

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One Major Point About the Revenue Forecast Don’t Forget About Inflation

During each of their Press availabilities, Governor-elect Tim Walz (DFL-MN) and Speaker Elect-designee Rep Melissa Hortman (DFL-36B, Brooklyn Park) stressed the lack of an inflationary figure in the November Budget Forecast, which by most calculations would cut the $1.544 billion figure in half.

If inflation were to have been included on the expenditure side of the formula the figures for FY 2020-21 would be $1,162,000 and FY 2022-2023 $2,907,000.

The discussion about trade policy uncertainty, which is shorthand for the Trump Administrations role in Trade Policy, relations with China and tariffs, means the factors outside of our state and their impact on the export market is a significant factor, but not one we could get State Economist Laura Kalambokidis to pin down. The best we received is the impact is projected to be a tenth of a point in the economy.

Important items we pulled out of the Press Conference were, the surplus is up to $70 million for not conforming to the Federal Tax Law, a lower prison population, and lower health care costs.

We again asked our favorite question which is what is the state’s current debt capacity based on the Revenue Forecast and we were told by Management and Budget Commissioner Myron Franz the figure was $3 billion.

In Legislative Politics, There is Definitely an Adults and Children’s Table

When the legislature convenes on January 8th, 2019 There will be a distinct difference in the rhetoric and impact from both sides of the aisle in the state House. As current Speaker Kurt Daudt (R-30, Crown) shifts from the Speaker’s rostrum to the microphone on the right side of the legislative chamber his tone will become shriller and the impact and affectedness far less. Comparatively, the voices of Speaker Elect-designee Rep Mellissa Hortman (DFL-36B, Brooklyn Park) and House Majority Leader Rep Ryan Winkler (DFL-46A, Golden Valley) will gain relevance and gravitas.

We believe every story should be written taking into account the weight of the person in the political arena, and truthfully Daudt luster has waned and his words should be seen far less often.

In fact, a perfect example is evident in the Press Release on the Revenue Forecast which quotes Daudt “This surplus shows that the Republican approach of lowering taxes and restraining runaway spending works. Democrats predicted doom-and-gloom when we passed our tax bill last session, but instead, our state’s budget picture is stronger than ever.” This is comparable to the Rooster claiming credit for a sunrise.

What the Republican Tax Bill did do was reduce the height of the surplus and feathered the nest of people favorable to Republican philosophy. The affluent and those with greater wealth at the expense of the rest of the state’s population. Making a “No New Taxes” pledge is a mistake made by President George H W Bush (R) but the problem is people view the needs far greater than his pledge to placate the Reaganomics crowd, which we will remind you Bush called “Voodoo Economics.”.

With Minnesota the sole state in the nation with a bifurcated legislature controlled in the Senate by a mere one vote margin, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-09, Nisswa), who by most indications is a reasonable person in negotiations, but still a Republican will have his hands full maintaining Majority Rule. He will be held hostage on every vote his caucus takes to make sure all members make it to their respective committees for key votes and to the floor to hold sway. If anyone member wants to freelance or bargain with the Senate Minority they are well positioned to do so and we know Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk (DFL-03, Cook) will keep a sharp eye on the lookout for such an opportunity.

During yesterday’s Press Conference we asked a question of Speaker Elect-designee Hortman if she would work with Winkler to craft legislation the targets Senators in districts in which they wrestle away control in the last elections and she disagreed with the premise of the question and expressed her desire to work constructively with Majority Leader Gazelka where possible. Aw yes, lest we forget it is the honeymoon period. Our question about tactics won’t be appropriate until late April or May.

Governor Dayton’s Reflection

During what we believe may be his last Press Conference we asked Governor Mark Dayton (DFL-MN), who was the Commissioner for the Department of Energy and Economic Development under Governor Rudy Perpich (DFL-MN), “What would you say to Governor Perpich at this moment?”

He said, “He taught me a lot. He taught me about how works that make things happen. He taught me about jobs, jobs, jobs, that’s what we have here 318,400 more jobs in Minnesota in the last 8 years. Yes, we have had economic upturns, but our policies have supported that, our investments in education will help sustain that. That’s what it is all about. It’s about people working and having better lives and being part of that. He was engaged fulltime and I learned a lot from that. “

What Senators Will be Under the Gun This Season, i.e. Session

There are two state Senator’s who will clearly be in painful positions this legislative session and their respective House colleagues will be in opportune positions to test their pain thresholds. Senators Paul Anderson (R-44, Plymouth) and Dan Hall (R-56, Burnsville) both have two DFL House members in their district following November’s election.

We expect Rep-elects Ginny Klevhorn (DFL-44A, Plymouth) Patty Acomb (DFL-44B, Minnetonka) along with Rep-elects Hunter Cantrell (DFL-56A, Savage and Alice Mann (DFL-56B, Lakeville) to carry substantial pieces of legislation this session. Mann as a Physician is perfectly positioned to carry forward Health Care legislation, Acomb’s broad experience with the DNR, the Met Council, local government and water resource groups makes her a great candidate to carry Environmental legislation and we expect incoming Environment and Natural Resources Finance Division Chair Rep Rick Hansen (DFL-52A, South St Paul) a Soil & Water Board Alum will likely have many ideas to share with her. In fact, we wouldn’t be surprised if she were tapped for the Vice-Chair position on the committee.

Klevhorn and Cantrell also can be a thorn in the side of their respective Senators though as a mediator Klevhorn and may seek a more conciliatory path, we will point out this is a different arena and sharp elbows and calling people out are the rules of the game.

There are six Senator who have split seats with the House members. Senators Jerry Relph (R-14, St Cloud), Senate President Jeremy Miller (R-28, Winona), Warren Limmer (R-44, Maple Grove), Roger Chamberlain (R-38, Lino Lakes), Karin Housley (R-39, St  Marys Point) and Assistant Minority Leader Eric Pratt (R-55, Prior Lake). If our thoughts are valid the leadership team will be seriously under fire this Season, i.e. Session.

December Revenue Forecast Postponed One Day

The Minnesota Department of Revenue will postpone the announcement of the December Revenue Forecast until Thursday out of respect for the funeral of the 41st President George H W Bush (R).

Here is the formal announcement.

ST PAUL – In respect and remembrance of President George H.W. Bush and in observation of the National Day of Mourning on Wednesday, Dec. 5, Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) has rescheduled the release of the Minnesota November Budget and Economic Forecast to Thursday, Dec. 6. Revised details for Thursday’s announcement are included below.

What: 2018 November Budget and Economic Forecast
When: Thursday, Dec. 6 at 1:15 p.m. (NEW DATE!)
Where: Room 15, Minnesota State Capitol, 75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., Saint Paul, MN 55155

Note to press: We will email you a summary of the 2018 November Budget and Economic Forecast on Dec. 6 at approximately 10:15 a.m. and post full materials on MMB’s website at 11:45 a.m. To receive this information:

Persell Survives Recount

Former Rep John Sterling Persell Jr (DFL-05A, Bemidji) will return to St Paul in January for his fifth term after surviving a razor-thin recount against Rep Matt Bliss (R-05A, Pennington). On election night the margin between the two was 8 votes in favor of Persell and after the recount conducted in Beltrami County stretched the lead to 11 votes.

This makes the DFL House majority 75.

MGRC Annual Networking Party

The annual gathering of lobbyists and advocates is set for December 6th 4:00 pm at Fitzgerald’s on Cathedral Hill.

Date: Thursday, December 6, 2018

Time: 4:00pm – 7:00pm

Cost: Free for all attendees

Location: Fitzgerald’s – The Zelda Room
173 Western Ave N
St. Paul, MN 55102

MGRC has extended invitations to legislative and campaign staff from the four legislative caucuses. There is no cost to attend, it will be a cash bar and MGRC will provide appetizers. MGRC members and nonmembers welcome. No need to register – just attend with your business cards, updated resumes, and a smile.

We also encourage you to share this information with anyone you think may be interested – all are welcome. We hope to see you on 12/6/18!

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