News Releases

DFL Senate Selects Franzen As New Leader

Minnesota Report

Last night the Senate DFL met to choose a successor for Senate Minority Leader Susan Kent (DFL-53, Woodbury) who had announced her resignation earlier this month. As we expected, he 31 member caucus selected Sen Melisa Franzen (DFL-49, Edina). The affable, Puerto Rican born, attorney, and mother of two will the second woman to leader her caucus after she resigned from a Assistant Leader position over a mishandled sexual complaint by a senate staffer.

The most significant challenge Franzen faces is not the forthcoming legislative session, but rather the recruitment candidates and retention of caucus members after the 2022 redistricting plan is finalized. A continued shift in t he state’s population is expected to reduce representation in Greater Minnesota by as much as two senate seats, which is the bastion of the Republican senate control. The key elements of the new map will be how the suburban and ex-urban districts are aligned.

We will watch the ongoing positioning very closely.

Senate Republicans Select a New Leader and the Post Gazelka Era Commences

Minnesota Report

The Republican Senate Majority Caucus advanced Senate President Jeremy Miller (R-28, Winona) from the podium to the floor last night in an election to fill the vacancy created by Sen Paul Gazelka’s (R-09-Nisswa) resignation as Majority Leader. Miller a fourth-term member, is a deliberative legislator, who leaves a solid the impression that he fully listens to concerns and takes them into consideration. He is a rather fresh face to most outside of the legislative process. As a small business owner and Chief Financial Officer for his family owned scrap metal business he knows the value of a resource and also the value of recycling and as a  past member of the Tax Committee, he knows where the state’s revenue comes from. We doubt though, as a member of the Redistricting Committee he and his caucus can strike a bargain with the DFL House Caucus on a redistricting plan that will not be drawn by the courts, although we suggest a legislative route is a far more beneficial path when attempting to protect something rather than letting the chips fall where the five judge panel drops them.

The caucus announcement of his election is shown here.

Today Senate Republicans elected new leadership. Senator Jeremy Miller (R- Winona) was elected to the leader position after Senator Paul Gazelka announced he was stepping down last week.

“It’s an honor and a privilege to be elected by my peers as Leader,” Miller said. “For the last five years, Senate Republicans have worked to advance Minnesota in so many ways. From lowering taxes, historic funding for the education of our students, stabilizing healthcare markets, fixing MNLARS, prioritizing small businesses, and supporting our law enforcement, I’m incredibly proud of the way our majority has improved the lives of every Minnesotan. As we head into a bonding year, we will invest in the top priorities for the state and create a fair and transparent redistricting process for the next election.”

Senator Miller was first elected to the Senate in 2010. He has been President of the Senate since 2019, and at the time, was the youngest serving President to hold the position.

Additional Biographical Information

Miller lives in Winona with his wife, Janel, and their three sons: Drew, and twins Luke and Tom. Miller is a 2004 graduate of Minnesota State College – Southeast Technical and earned an Associate Degree in Accounting from the Winona campus.

Miller is also the Chief Financial Officer for Wm. Miller Scrap Iron & Metal Co., a family owned and operated business that dates back to 1910. Miller and his two brothers are the fourth generation from their family to be involved in the company and they work together with their father and a dedicated team of employees. Miller’s responsibilities include accounting, business development, marketing, human resources, as well as domestic and global sales. He also oversees the company’s Quality, Environmental, Health & Safety Management System.

Miller serves as Vice President of the Morrie Miller Athletic Foundation, an organization that has been instrumental in supporting and sustaining youth athletics. He is a Director on the Winona State University Warrior Club Board, Saint Mary’s University Athletic Advisory Board, and the Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical President’s Advisory Board and a member of the Winona Area Chamber of Commerce.

New Minneapolis Ballot Language is as Clear as Mud

Minnesota Report

It is good to see the Mill City is on one-hand seeking to follow the governance structure of the Capitol City and empower the mayor. On the other, the language of the proposed Minneapolis Charter Amendment on Police Reform in Minneapolis is still an amorphous issue and was made slightly better by the recent changes by the Minneapolis City Council, but doesn’t change the constant problem in the Mill City, which is too many fingers in the pot. The question over the “Weak Mayor” system will be addressed in addition on another ballot question, but here in the one place where the mayor has the greatest amount of authority, selection of the Police Chief, is a strong mayor situation, in which the complete responsibility is in the hands of the Chief Executive and the accountability rests with the mayor.

The new language continues to foster the decision by committee process in Minneapolis and the creation of a new Department of Public Safety versus a Police Department leaves many with the feeling there will be few protections for communities across the city.

In the aftermath of George Floyd, clarion calls for change became the rule of the day, but as is also obvious the devil is in the details and making a complex decision based on a referendum is a poor process choice. At the end of the day, the final decision will be left to the mayor and the city council, and the referendum is merely an advisory, or guidance in the process conceived of by the city council.

As we look at the question facing Minneapolitans it seems clearly evident the position taken by the independent group AllofMpls is the best route vote Yes, on the charter amendment to adopt St Paul’s model of city government and No, on the charter amendment to eliminate the Minneapolis Police Department.

But you can read it for yourself. The language for deletion is struck out and the new language is underlined.


Adopting title and ballot language pertaining to a proposed amendment to the Minneapolis City Charter relating to the removal of the Police Department and the creation of a new Department of Public Safety, to be submitted to the qualified voters of the City of Minneapolis at the Municipal General Election on November 2, 2021.
Whereas, a petition was submitted by the Yes4Minneapolis Coalition to the Charter Commission, which was then transmitted to the City Council; and
Whereas, the petition has been verified and deemed a valid petition by the City Clerk; and
Whereas, the Minneapolis City Attorney’s Office made the following findings in its legal opinion dated July 13, 2021 as follows:
1. All technical requirements for the petition have been met.
2. The amendment is a proper subject for the Minneapolis Charter.
3. The amendment is constitutional and complies with federal law, state law, and state public policy.
4. The City Council should place the proposed amendment on the ballot in the form of a ballot question at the general election on Tuesday, November 2, 2021; and

Whereas, the proposed amendment submitted by the Yes4Minneapolis Coalition would, if approved, amend Article VII, Sections 7.2(a), 7.3, and 7.4(c), and Article VIII, Section 8.2 of the Minneapolis City Charter relating to Administration: Departments, Administration: Police, Administration: Fire, and Officers and Other Employees: Officers Generally, as follows:

  • 7.2. – Departments.

(a) The departments generally. The City Council must establish, organize, and otherwise provide for these departments:
(1) a City Coordinator;
(2) a City Clerk (section 4.2(e));
(3) a City Assessor;
(4) a City Finance Officer and budget office, including a director;
(5) a City Attorney and legal department;
(6) a civil rights department, including a director, and a civil rights commission (section 7.2(d)); (7) a department of community planning and economic development;
(8) a fire department (section 7.4);
(9) a health department, headed by a health commissioner;
(10) a planning commission (section 7.2(e));
(11) a police department department of public safety (section 7.3);
(12) a public-works department;
(13) a purchasing department;
(14) a regulatory-services department; and
(15) any other department necessary or convenient for the efficient delivery of municipal services.

  • 7.3. – Police.

(a) Police department. The Mayor has complete power over the establishment, maintenance, and command of the police department. The Mayor may make all rules and regulations and may promulgate and enforce general and special orders necessary to operating the police department. Except where the law vests an appointment in the department itself, the Mayor appoints and may discipline or discharge any employee in the department (subject to the Civil Service Commission’s rules, in the case of an employee in the classified service).

(1) Police chief.

(A) Appointment. The Mayor nominates and the City Council appoints a police chief under section 8.4(b). (B) Term. The chief’s term is three years.

(C) Civil service. The chief serves in the unclassified service, but with the same employee benefits (except as to hiring and removal) as an officer in the classified service. If a chief is appointed from the classified service, then he or she is treated as taking a leave of absence while serving as chief, after which he or she is entitled to return to his or her permanent grade in the classified service. If no vacancy is available in that grade, then the least senior employee so classified returns to his or her grade before being so classified.

(D) Public health. The chief must execute the City Council’s orders relating to the preservation of health.

(2) Police officers. Each peace officer appointed in the police department must be licensed as required by law. Each such licensed officer may exercise any lawful power that a peace officer enjoys at common law or by general or special law, and may execute a warrant anywhere in the county.

(b) Temporary police. The Mayor may, in case of riot or other emergency, appoint any necessary temporary police officer for up to one week. Each such officer must be a licensed peace officer.

(c) Funding. The City Council must fund a police force of at least 0.0017 employees per resident, and provide for those employees’ compensation, for which purpose it may tax the taxable property in the City up to 0.3 percent of its value annually. This tax is in addition to any other tax, and not subject to the maximum set under section 9.3(a)(4).

7.3 Public Safety.

(a) Department of Public Safety.

(1) Function: The Department of Public Safety is responsible for integrating its public safety functions into a comprehensive public health approach to safety, including licensed peace officers if necessary to fulfill the responsibilities of the department.

(2) Commissioner of Public Safety Department. (a) The Mayor nominates and the City Council appoints a commissioner of the department of public safety under section 8.4.

  • 7.4. – Fire.

    (c) Fire police. The City Council may provide for fire police within either the fire department or the police department of public safety. The fire department may command the police these officers at any fire.

  • 8.2. – Officers generally.

Except as this charter otherwise provides:
(d) Tenure. Each officer takes office, after having qualified and taking the required oath—
(1) in the case of an elected officer other than a Council member, elected in a regular general election, on the first weekday in January that is not a holiday in the calendar year next following the election;
(2) in the case of Council members, elected in a regular general election, on the first Monday in January in the calendar year next following the election;
(3) in the case of an elected officer elected at a special election, when the results are certified;
(4) in the case of an officer appointed under section 8.4(b), other than the police chief, on the first weekday in January that is not a holiday in an even-numbered year; and
(5) in the case of the police chief, on the first weekday in January that is not a holiday in the year the appointment starts; and
(6 5) in the case of any other office, as any applicable ordinance provides, otherwise upon election or appointment.
Whereas, the City Council has neither authority to reject this proposed amendment nor authority to change the language of this proposed amendment; and
Whereas, the City Council’s only duty, which is dictated by statute, is to fix the ballot question for this proposed amendment; and
Whereas, a vote for or against specific ballot question language is not an indicator of a Council Member’s approval or disapproval of this proposed amendment;
Now, Therefore, Be It Resolved by The City Council of The City of Minneapolis:
That the proposed amendment relating to the removal of the Police Department and the creation of a new Department of Public Safety be submitted to the qualified voters of the City for adoption or rejection at the Municipal General Election to be held November 2, 2021, and that such notice of such submission be given by the City Clerk by publication of such notice and amendment, in full, once a week for two successive weeks prior to November 2, 2021, in the Star Tribune, a newspaper of general circulation in the City of Minneapolis, and in Finance and Commerce, the official newspaper of the City of Minneapolis.
Be It Further Resolved that in submitting the proposed amendment for adoption or rejection by the qualified voters, the title and language of the question shall be presented as follows:

“City Question #2
Department of Public Safety

Shall the Minneapolis City Charter be amended to remove the Police Department and replace it with a Department of Public Safety that employs a comprehensive public health approach to the delivery of functions by the Department of Public Safety, with those specific functions to be determined by the Mayor and City Council by ordinance; which will not be subject to exclusive mayoral power over its establishment, maintenance, and command; and which could include licensed peace officers (police officers), if necessary, to fulfill its responsibilities for public safety, with the general nature of the amendments being briefly indicated in the explanatory note below, which is made a part of this ballot?

Yes ___
No ___

Explanatory Note:

This amendment would create a Department of Public Safety combining public safety functions through a comprehensive public health approach to be determined by the Mayor and Council. The department would be led by a Commissioner nominated by the Mayor and appointed by the Council. The Police Department, and its chief, would be removed from the City Charter. The Public Safety Department could include police officers, but the minimum funding requirement would be eliminated.”

Leadership Shuffles

Minnesota Report

First, it was the rapid one-week ouster of Republican Party Chair Jennifer Carnahan, then the announcement by Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-09, Nisswa) leaving the leadership post and not seeking reelection, followed by the more surprising announcement by Senate Minority Leader Susan Kent (DFL-53, Woodbury) of her stepping down from leadership and her intent not to seek reelection to the Senate.

Kent ousted Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk (I-03, Cooke) is a one vote victory prior to the 2020 election. Now, interestingly enough Bakk, who left the DFL Caucus with fellow Senator David Tomassoni (I-06, Chisholm) is now named as a potential candidate for Republican Caucus Leader. Of course, since the Republicans dropped the name Independent Republicans in the early 1990’s, he would have to make a full switch.

As Kent leaves her caucus is still saddled with cloud and the looming problem of sexual harassment of a former employee by a member of the Senate Campaign staff, and Kent Campaign Manager, and House Employee, Clay Schwartzwalter, also a half-brother to Senate Jason Isaacson (DFL-42, Shoreview). The issue was not dealt with well when it was first reported and the repercussions are still being felt.

As the leadership contest to replace Kent begins and conversations with the membership ensues, this issue is forefront in the minds of all of the candidates. With this as top of mind, it is clear one casualty of the sexual harassment complaint will be DFL Caucus Chief of Staff John Pollard.

The Republican Caucus, has an easier path initially, because it has a Deputy Majority Leader in Sen Mark Johnson (R-01, East Grand Forks) and he was selected to take on the role as “Acting” Leader, but as he has clearly stated, “It’s an absolute honor to be selected by my Senate leadership colleagues to serve as Acting Majority Leader. Senator Paul Gazelka stepped down yesterday as the leader of our caucus and I am humbled to be named acting leader until a new leader is selected.”

As has been the case in past DFL Leadership contests, (Larry Pogemiller and Dean Johnson) we are privy to conversations taking place. Sens D Scott Dibble (DFL-61 Minneapolis), Melisa Franzen (DFL-49, Edina) and Nick Frentz (DFL-19, North Mankato) all have been making calls to their colleagues and expressing their interests in the position.

As we are hearing from those inside the caucus, there is a clear sympathy for Kent’s personal reality and something many in office can attest, the weight of the office and family pressures in constant conflict. Additionally, moving forward, what the face of the caucus needs to be not only for the legislative session, but going forward into the 2022 election. Some actually argue the more important issue is the election.

As we had mentioned with the resignation of Caranhan, prior to her “No Confidence” vote begs the question of the lose of a woman leader and what her replacement looks like. Dibble an openly gay male, Franzen and Hispanic female, and Frentz a straight white male does create a interesting set of issues. If the DFL Caucus had a Deputy Leader as they do when they are in the Majority, this issue could be a mere process question, but without, the issues of gender and inclusivity may come to play and constituencies outside of the caucus might have a role in the process other than the 16-members inside the caucus, for determining the choice.

To that end, Dibble as a Minneapolitan, where the slogan Defund the Police came, and is currently holding a referendum on Police Reform, which truly has yet to be defined, is seen by many as not the right fit for the current time. A senator, from a safe, but problematic place, is not the right person to bolster an election for the Senate Majority which will happen in the suburbs.

Franzen, current Minority Leader, an attorney and like Kent, another suburban Senator—who did not recapture the majority—though an inner ring suburbanite, self-describes as a “suburban woman, who happens to be diverse.” She is giving voice to the need to address the harassment issue directly and address staff concerns to prevent such an occurrence from happening again. The question is how will her appeal be felt in the outer ring and ex-burbs. She stresses her fundraising for the caucus. Also, in evidence when she was in a car accident with State Auditor Julie Blaha (DFL-MN), they were at a Farmfest expo in southwestern MN.

Frentz, also a current Assistant Minority Leader, with a chiseled jaw, affable attorney, who is in his 2nd term representing a regional center in southern Minnesota. He is a well-known ally with Governor Tim Walz (DFL-MN) both having football backgrounds and from Mankato. We will argue a regional center is much like an outer ring suburb in its politics where as an inner ring suburb appeals more to the core of the city it’s nearby.

In this case, Franzen looks well-positioned, but it will depend on whether or not she has the breadth and reach to wrangle the regional diversity of her caucus and recruit quality candidates to fill the three suburban vacancies already pending Kent, and Sens Chris Eaton (DFL-40, Brooklyn Center) and Jerry Newton (DFL-37, Coon Rapids).

We think the best tactician will be the best choice.

This is Gazelka’s statement on his decision.


Five years ago, under bittersweet conditions, I was honored to be elected leader of the Senate Republican Caucus.  I have those same bittersweet feelings today as I announce my intention to step aside as your leader.

Outside of my family life, and my faith in God, leading this caucus has been the most rewarding experience of my life.  I am so grateful for what we’ve accomplished together:

  • Finding agreement on three consecutive budgets without raising taxes, over the strong objections of both Governors Mark Dayton and Tim Walz.
  • Cutting income tax rates for the first time in 20 years in addition to tax cuts for Social Security income and small business and agriculture property taxes.
  • Blocking an exhaustive list of policies pursued by the DFL that would have slowed the growth in our economy, taken away rights and freedoms and worst of all, harmed our families.
  • Growing the caucus from a razor-thin one vote majority in 2017 to a comfortable working majority through special election victories and by strategically attracting centrist Democrats to join our efforts.
  • Building a culture of respect in the organization – respect for members in both parties, staff, lobbyists and the public – solidifying our reputation as the “adults in the room.”
  • Raising and spending record amounts in the 2020 election, winning back-to-back Republican majorities in the Senate for the first time in history, even in the face of a strong Democratic wave.

These accomplishments were possible because we stuck to our principles and communicated directly with the people of Minnesota. Again, I’m so very grateful for the work we’ve accomplished together and believe the caucus is in a very strong position to be successful in the 2022 session and the subsequent election.

I plan to be a part of that future success but look forward to letting someone else take over serving as leader while I pursue the next chapter in my political life.

It has been an honor.


Paul Gazelka


Here is Kent’s statement on her decision.

“It has been the greatest honor of my life to serve my community in the Minnesota Senate for almost 10 years now. I have been inspired by the dedicated community members, advocates and colleagues I have had the privilege of working with who are committed to building a better Minnesota for everyone, “ said Senator Kent. “I began my political career as a mom fighting for better and more equitable public education, and I am proud that over the course of my tenure, Minnesota students have seen some of the biggest advancements in schools in recent history, including this year‘s educational budget, which will invest $1B over the course of the next biennium to support our students and schools.”

“I am also incredibly humble to have had the opportunity to serve as the first woman Senate DFL Leader. It has been an honor to hold this position, and I am so proud of the passion and dedication to service that my DFL colleagues displayed over the course of the past 18 months, as we faced unprecedented challenges in the legislature, our state, and our communities. Across historic legislative sessions, we have worked hard to keep Minnesotans healthy in and our communities strong. “

“The decision to retire at the end of my term next year was a difficult one, but it is in the best interest of my family. The pandemic has been hard on everyone – hard on millions of families – and mine is absolutely no obsession. Throughout it all, I have tried my best to do two roles that I own can do: be my son’s mother, and my mother’s daughter, in fact her only family member. I’ve done the best I can, and my husband, Chris, has been amazing. However, COVID has complicated our lives in ways that I could not have foreseen when I stepped up to leader ship. It’s been two years since I have seen my mother, and I am deeply grateful for her care at an assisted living facility in Dallas where she has been without direct family support. It’s time to make changes in my life and put my family first.”

“I have reflected on this over several months, and with a bit of distance since session ended, it became clear that I need to prioritize my family and can’t commit to another four-year term. With that decision, I have also decided to step down as the Senate DFL leader to give the new leader a time they will need to continue fighting for the shared values we are hold dear. I am committed to supporting a new DFL leader to ensure a smooth transition, and I will continue my he worked hard in my role as a senator for my community to last day my last day in office. I will be forever grateful for this experience and appreciate everyone’s grace and understanding of this decision.“

The Senate will DFL caucus will meet Monday, September 13 to elect a new Senate Minority Leader.

Tony Lazarro’s Contributions

Minnesota Report

First off, in order to find all of the contributions Anton “Tony” Lazarro made to candidates, party units and PAC’s you will need to look under a number of names. This is significant because as of now, state law only allows active political campaigns to only give $100 to a charitable interest. We understand the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board is wrestling with this issue. This means it will take some time for candidate to whitewash the Lazzaro money.

We will break out each name and the amounts and years contributed.

In 2018, Lazzaro Anton, Anton, who gave $500 to the Log Cabin Republicans of Minnesota.

While in 2020 Lazzaro, Anthony, gave $500 to the Schwanke, Ben Senate Committee.

Also in 2020, Lazzaro, Anton, gave $12,280 to various entities, $5,080 to the Republican Party of Minn, Freedom Club State PAC, MN Young Republicans Victory Fund, Pfliger, Jesse House Committee and again Schwanke, Ben Senate Committee. In 2019, it was $14,765 to the same interests, but including $500 to the Housley, Karin Senate Committee. In 2018 , it was many of the same with $25,000 to the Freedom Club State PAC, $11,040 Republican Party of Minn, including $1000 to the Daudt, Kurt House Committee, $550 to the 5th Congressional District RPM and $700 to the Johnson, Lacy Lee House Committee. In 2017, $4000 to Johnson, Jeff R Gov Committee and $250 to 5th Congressional District RPM.

The earliest political contribution occurred in 2014, with two contributions totaling $1250 to Honour, Scott Gov Committee.

In 2017,  Lazzaro, Anton J, gave $250 to 59th Senate District RPM and in 2018, a total of $14,180 to 59th Senate District RPM.

In 2020, Lazzaro, Tony gave $500 to the 33rd Senate District RPM and in 2019 $800 to the same.

We will be interested in how the money is redistributed, but in this case the various campaigns are able to make many $100 contributions to noble caucuses.

Wattson Releases Redistricting Plan

Minnesota Report

Today, former Senate Counsel Peter Wattson along with former Ramsey County Election Director Joe Masky, have put forward a redistricting plan in support of their case before the five-Judge Redistricting Panel. The plan accounts for three rural Congressional Districts, 1, 7 & 8, three suburban Districts 2, 3 & 6 and two urban districts 4 & 5.

The location for the information is on the League of Women Voter’s website, which is a petitioner in Wattson’s suit.

Wattson Plaintiffs Release Proposed Minnesota Congressional District Plan — League of Women Voters Minnesota (LWVMN).

Need for a Forensic Cyber Audit at the State Patrol?

Minnesota Report

A press release from the MN-ACLU, provides a very disturbing view of a potential cover-up by the Minnesota State Patrol’s use of excessive use of force during the George Floyd protests. If the alleged email and text purge occurred then holding the perpetrators accountable will be a larger undertaking.

This gives credence to the thought, all who wear a badge, are merely part of the great Blue Shield, and will stop at nothing to protect one of their own or themselves, including breaking the law.

Court Transcript Reveals State Patrol Purged Emails, Texts after George Floyd Uprising 

A “vast majority” of the Minnesota State Patrol performed a massive purge of emails and texts after police were accused of using excessive force during the George Floyd uprising, according to a recently filed court transcript.

“The purge was neither accidental, automated, nor routine,” the ACLU of Minnesota said in documents filed late Friday as part of an ongoing lawsuit to prevent police assaults on journalists. “The purge did not happen because of a file destruction or retention policy. No one reviewed the purged communications before they were deleted to determine whether the materials were relevant to this litigation. The impact of this purge is compounded by the fact that during the protests Troopers were either directed not to complete use of force reports or told that such reports were not required.”

This destruction of public records makes it nearly impossible to track the State Patrol’s behavior, and the ACLU-MN questions whether that was by design. The filing contends, based on MSP testimony from a July 28, 2021, hearing in the ACLU-MN’s Goyette case, that MSP also:

  • Concocted false reports to justify abuse of force
  • Failed to discipline or reprimand even a single Trooper for misconduct.

“The Minnesota State Patrol’s self-described actions – purging emails after the George Floyd uprising and failing to investigate its improper arrests and assaults on journalists – show an alarming lack of accountability for misconduct and complete disrespect for the right to assemble and the right to a free press. It is time for police and our community to stop turning a blind eye to police misconduct, and we hope this lawsuit helps stop this reprehensible behavior,” said ACLU-MN Legal Director Teresa Nelson.

The filing is a continuation of the June 2020 lawsuit Goyette et al. V. City of Minneapolis et al. that the ACLU-MN filed on behalf of Jared Goyette, the Communications Workers of America, and other journalists who were attacked by police while covering the George Floyd protests. The lawsuit led to an April 16, 2021, temporary restraining order barring police violence after State Troopers attacked journalists during the Daunte Wright protests. The latest filing Friday asks U.S. District Judge Wilhelmina M. Wright to convert that TRO into a preliminary injunction.

The ACLU-MN is joined in the case by pro bono attorneys at Fredrikson & Byron, the Law Office of Kevin Riach, and Apollo Law.

Case Number:  0:20-cv-01302-WMW-DTS.

Learn more about the Goyette case at:

View the motion for a preliminary injunction at:

2021 House State Fair Poll

We at Checks & Balances are continuing our tradition of publishing the State Fair Polls found at the State Fair booths in the Education Building. Again, as we have said before, these provide an insight into the mindset and the issues of interest of the legislative leadership and their priorities in advance of the forthcoming legislative session. As you can see from the past information the legislature has asked a question about the legalization of marijuana since 2016 and Sport’s Book (gambling on professional and collegiate sports) since 2017.

Just learned there will not be a 2021 Senate State Fair Poll.

Official Ballot

 Minnesota House of Representatives 2021 State Fair Poll

Question 1. Should Minnesota legalize and regulate gambling on professional and collegiate sport?

Undecided/No opinion

Question 2. Should K-12 students be required to wear masks in school during the upcoming school year?

Undecided/No opinion

Question 3. Should law enforcement officers be prohibited from making traffic stops for minor equipment violations such as a broken taillight or expired license tab?

Undecided/No opinion

Question 4. Should the state ban the sale of flavored tobacco products such as menthol cigarettes and some vaping products?

Undecided/No opinion

Question 5. Should the state implement automatic voter registration using information collected during transactions such as getting a driver’s license, rather than the current system where voters choose to register?

Undecided/No opinion

Question 6. Should bars and restaurants be allowed to sell wine, beer and mixed drinks to-go?

Undecided/No opinion

Question 7. Are you confident the state’s election system is secure?

Undecided/No opinion

Question 8. Should a school voucher system be established whereby the state issues parents a voucher equal to the state’s cost of educating a child for a year, and parents can then choose the school their child attends, whether public or private?

Undecided/No opinion

Question 9. Should people without proof of legal residence in the state be allowed to obtain a driver’s license or identification card?

Undecided/No opinion

Question 10. Should Minnesota allow the recreational use of marijuana by persons age 21 and over?

Undecided/No opinion

Question 11. Should schools be prohibited from suspending or expelling students from kindergarten through the third grade until all other disciplinary measures have been tired or there is an ongoing serious safety threat?

Undecided/No opinion

Question 12. If a peacetime emergency lasts more than 30 days, should the Legislature have the power to terminate any rule or order issued by the governor during the emergency?

Undecided/No opinion

2018 State Fair Poll

2017 State Fair Poll (Results)

2016 State Fair Poll

Minneapolis Ballots Referenda, With or Without Explanation?

Minnesota Report

When local a ballot measure is put before voters either by petition or by the will of the city council, the definition of “what is, is,” comes to play. Because referenda is a change of course the interpretation of what the course correction is, is left to the governing authority. At the state level, a ballot question is a measure passed solely by the legislature and the governor has no role in determining this course of action, other than to use the bully pulpit and express his/her opinion on t the question.

In Minneapolis, the saga over ballot measures continues. Initially, the Vote 4 Minneapolis Coalition consisting largely of ACLU Minnesota and Reclaim the Block, secured the 20,000 signatures required for a ballot question to be put before the voters. Afterwards, the city council, as is their purview,  drafted the following language,

“Shall the Minneapolis City Charter be amended to strike and replace the Police Department with a Department of Public Safety that employs a comprehensive public health approach, and which would include licensed peace officers (police officers) if necessary, to fulfill its responsibilities for public safety, with the general nature of the amendments being briefly indicated in the explanatory note below, which is made a part of this ballot?”

It was felt that this language was not informative enough and in turn explanatory language was drafted to accompany the proposal, which read.

This amendment would create a new Department of Public Safety, which would:

Combine public safety functions of the City of Minneapolis into a comprehensive public health approach to safety, with the specific public safety functions to be determined.

Include licensed peace officers (police officers) if necessary to fulfill the responsibilities of the Department of Public Safety.

Be led by a Commissioner of Public Safety. The appointment process for the Commissioner would include a Mayor nomination and a City Council appointment. The Mayor would not have complete power over the establishment, maintenance, and command of the Department of Public Safety.

This amendment would also do the following:

Remove from the Charter a Police Department, which includes the removal of its Police Chief, and the removal of the Mayor’s complete power over the establishment, maintenance, and command of the Police Department.

Remove the City Council requirement to fund a police force of at least 1.7 employees per 1,000 residents.

Remove City Council authorization to impose additional taxation on taxable property in the City of Minneapolis of up to 0.3 percent of its value annually to fund the compensation of employees of the police force.

Last month, the Vote 4 Minneapolis took the matter the Minneapolis City Council to court because of what it took upon itself to do, by putting explanatory language to accompany the referendum. On July 13th, Hennepin County Judge Jamie Anderson, ruled this explanatory language to be “problematic” and she called the for the language to be stricken. This set off a flurry of activity, where the council proposed and the mayor disposed with a series of vetoes. Later, on Friday, the city council approved new language, Mayor Jacob Frey (DFL-MN) again vetoed the proposed language on “Police Reform,” proposed by City Councilmember Andrea Jenkins (DFL-Ward 08, Minneapolis) Jenkins Proposal and took to social media to explain his action.

After the veto was upheld on an 8-4 vote with one abstention (Osman). The city council voted on a new language brought forward by Council Members Jenkins, Matthew Johnson (DFL-Ward 12, Minneapolis), Jamal Osman (DFL-Ward 06, Minneapolis) and Council President Lisa Bender (DFL-Ward 10, Minneapolis). The new language reads:

“Shall the Minneapolis City Charter be amended to strike and replace the Police Department with a Department of Public Safety, which could include licensed peace officers (police officers) if necessary, with administrative authority to be consistent with other city departments to fulfill its responsibilities for public safety?”

This passed on a 9-4 veto proof majority and will be brought before the Minneapolis voters. To simplify, the question, a vote “Yes” we be to remove current Minneapolis Police Department to something different and undefined as the Department of Public Safety, and a vote “No” will be for the status quo.

To throw more problems into the issue another ballot question will potentially decide what the power structure in Minneapolis will look like. The current “weak mayor system” and the overly broad powers of the city council are up for change in an amendment proposed by the city charter commission.

“Shall the Minneapolis City Charter be amended to make the Mayor the City’s chief executive officer and administrative authority, and to make the City Council the legislative body with general legislative, policymaking, and oversight authority in the City, with the general nature of the amendments being briefly indicated in the explanatory note below, which is made a part of this ballot?”

This too came with an explanatory note which reads:

  1. Divide municipal powers and functions between an elected chief executive, the Mayor, and an elected legislative body, the City Council.
  2. Define the City Council as being the City’s legislative body with all legislative, policymaking, and oversight authority and remove reference to governing body. The City Council would continue to appoint and discharge the City Clerk. The City Council would be required to fund nonpartisan administrative staff and could also choose to fund their own aides as they do now. Require the City Council to establish an independent City Auditor’s Office in charge of audit services for the City’s finances and operations and an Audit Committee to oversee the City Auditor’s Office. The Audit Committee would appoint the Auditor for a term of at least four years and the City Council may remove the Auditor for cause.
  3. Eliminate the Executive Committee and its role in appointments, suspensions, and discharges of officers.
  4. Define the Mayor as being the City’s chief executive officer and administrative authority. The Mayor would appoint, with City Council’s consent, the heads of charter departments and other appointed officers, unless the charter or any applicable law provides otherwise. All employees appointed by the Mayor would have a four-year term that coincides with the Mayor’s term and could be disciplined and discharged by the Mayor.
  5. Define the City’s administration under the authority of the Mayor as being all administrative and operating departments not under the City Council or a board or commission created by the charter, or as otherwise provided by any applicable law. The City Council, its committees, and members would not be allowed to issue orders to, to direct, or to supervise those departments and employees under the City’s administration, nor request information not classified as public data. The City Council may seek information or assistance from the City’s administration and the Mayor must furnish any information that the City Council requests to carry out its legislative function.


So, at the end of the day, the Police Reform measure could pass or not and if it does the then either the current configuration will decide what that means or a new mayoral based executive structure will determine the final outcome. Seem confusing, not at all, it’s just Minneapolis.

The Carnahan Consequences

Minnesota Report

We find great interest to hear the words of the embattled MNGOP Chair Jennifer Carnahan say she is being subjected to #MeToo and Cancel Culture, when #MeToo is about men and their power over women and not women and their power over other women and because she has been found wanting, she lost a no confidence vote and she herself was cancelled, but it was not a cultural issue.

Also, instead of being a hat tip to the old game show “Truth or Consequences” the Republican Party of Minnesota is facing a “Truth and Consequences” situation. First off, since the golden parachute of $38,000 for severance of GOP Party Chair Jennifer Carnahan, was decided by an 8-7 vote in which Carnahan herself was the deciding vote. We wonder what rules does the MNGOP use in its party processes?

According to Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised 11th Edition, Chapter VIII, VOTING § 45. VOTING PROCEDURES-ABSTAINING FROM VOTING ON A QUESTION OF DIRECT PERSONAL INTEREST. No member should vote on a question in which he has a direct personal or pecuniary interest not common to the other members of the organization. For example, if a motion proposes that the organization enter into a contract with a commercial firm of which a member of the organization is an officer and from which contract he would derive personal pecuniary profit, the member should abstain from voting on the motion. However, no member can be compelled to refrain from voting in such circumstances.

Now, Robert’s Rules of Order is a guidance and provides information for the body to use at its digression and in the case of a tie the presiding officer is able to cast the tie-breaking vote, and if the matter was not a recorded vote, then all who voted are assumed to be in the affirmative. Since, we are told what the outcome was, it is assumed the vote was recorded, but also anyone on the prevailing side could call for a reconsideration.

As the MN GOP is clearly in disarray, the question of who will lead out of the morass, Carnahan’s challenger in April was state Senator Mark Koran (R-32, North Branch) and his name along with a spate of others is being bandied about.  They include but are not limited to two past legislators one state Rep. Kelly Fenton (R-Woodbury) was a previous Deputy Party Chair, and former state Senate Minority Leader David Hann (R-Eden Prairie), a GOP activist Harry Niska and current Republican National Committeeman Max Rymer.

The MNGOP, is in an interesting Catch-22, because with the ouster of Carnahan, they will be in a precarious position where they lose a woman of color and if the replacement of her is by a man, especially a white male, it will send a strong signal again gender inclusivity and diversity, which could be interpreted as “been there done that,” or “we tried that once, it failed, moving on”.

As the Republican Party tries to rebuild, it is prevented from it primary focus winning elections and during her tenure Carnahan only oversaw some minor increases in the Republican offices. The MNGOP was blown out in the Presidential Election, contrary to prior claims where Joe Biden bested Donald J Trump by better than 7% or 52.40% to 45.28%. The retention of her husband Jim Hagedorn’s seat in the 1st and Pete Stauber’s in the 8th Congressional Districts are nonissues, but it could be argued the original victories were under her watch and the capture of the 7th Congressional by Michelle Fischbach clearly was. In addition, to the pick-ups in the state house.

Main point is with the focus on the Constitutional Offices, the MNGOP has a hard slough, because they haven’t carried a statewide office since 2008 and then it was only by a 46.69% plurality for Governor Tim Pawlenty’s reelection.

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