News Releases

The Effect of Redistricting on Reelections of Incumbents

Minnesota Report

When we considered the number of retirements surrounding redistricting elections, our snap judgment was there were greater number of incumbents who bowed out in redistricting years rather than in a normal election cycle. After a review of he election from 1970 until 2020 the answer is correct.

In the Senate, incumbents average 12.12 retirements in redistricting elections compared to 9.64 in regular elections. In the House, the numbers are double 32 retirements in redistricting years and 16 in regular election years on average. Now, the House figure is skewed because House members frequently run for the Senate, an average of 4.2 members in redistricting elections and 4.9 on average are elected in regular election years.

Coincidentally, all of the election we reviewed, the redistricting plans were all decided by a court, rather than the state legislature.

We have included a spread sheet for you to review the elections.

Past Legislative Elections 1970-2020

A Call for a More Robust Rebate Efficiency Rebate Program or Reshuffle the Deck

Minnesota Report

As the 2021 United Nations COP26 Climate Change Conference is coming to a close, its clear the efforts being agreed to by world governments, political leaders and environmental organizations will result in change, but also it will be woefully inadequate. As former President Barack Obama (D) called upon the youth, to stay angry because, “They have more at stake in this than anybody else,” we are confronted with our own challenges.

The climate changes, global warming, and extreme weather conditions are all products of how we live our lives. As conspicuous consumers, htp to Thurstein Velben, who coined the phrase conspicuous consumption in 1899, we are a product of our environment, and our environment is something we have also shaped significantly. What we do each day, through the use of petroleum products, gasoline, plastic and goods transported long distances and electricity has a major impact on the world around us.

Now, we are not calling for a return to the Dark Ages, but rather a simple personal assessment of what we do on a daily basis and having an account for our own influences we apply. Yesterday, we read an interesting Facebook posting from a former influential legislator in the environmental space, Rep Jean Wagenius (DFL-Minneapolis) who stated of an energy efficient water heater picture, “Science tells us electrification is the solution to fossil fuel pollution. Reducing emissions 50% by 2030 requires individual action as well as structural change. So as one of our individual actions we replaced our gas hot water heater with a super efficient hybrid air source heat pump electric hot water heater—healthier for us & the earth. The estimated yearly energy cost is $113. Xcel has rebates but they are not enough. It’s time for the State to provide additional rebates. All Minnesotans should have an opportunity to reduce carbon emissions and have healthier air & lower energy costs.”

It would have seemed as the Energy and Climate Finance & Policy Division Chair; this policy position should have been a key focal point during her term of office. But with opposition in the Senate to climate change, addressing long-term global problems and science, the myopic approach to near term fights, political posturing and a staunch obstruction to logic where more the rule than the exception.

We ourselves have witnessed the minimalistic application of Xcel Energy Rebates on a million-dollar new construction building, in which the amount given back for utilization of high-efficiency technology results in a pittance of a mere $26,449, with an annual cost savings of 15,050 Kw. Seems to us the problem isn’t due to the lack of laws, rules or policies, but rather the existing system.

When a state-sponsored, investor-based monopoly exists, the regulation will never be adequate and the only real factor necessary to advance the public good is a publicly vested entity. The ultimate superior should not be the investors in the company but rather the community affected by the energy provided. Sure Xcel Energy is striving for a NetZero Carbon goal in 2050, but if other hands held the wheel of power, would a public utility arrive there faster. Also, the gouge, is clearly felt when Xcel seeks a rate increase of 20% over the next 3-years from the Public Utilities Commission.

Sure, wrestling the control from a legacy industry is a tough slough, but do we have the time to waste fighting for who is in control, when its clear there isn’t much more time at hand. We can fiddle while Rome burns as Nero did, and fight over “stranded investment” over the existing electrical infrastructure or power plants, power line, transformers and alike, but why bother. If the public interest is in dynamic rapid change, then assertion of rights to these investments are not company assets, but rather items facilitated by the monopoly provided by the public and it eminent interest supersedes any ownership claims.

In this case Power to the People is the only answer.

Defining the Political Divides in America

National Report

For the entirety of our political involvement, we have felt there is a political matrix. Our thoughts were based on the political polarities of left, right and center. Additionally, those three categories having their own divisions of left, right and center. So, you can have a left/left, a right/right and a center/center. Similarly, like a standard Bell Curve, where 68% of the population falls within one standard deviation to the left and the right of the mean.

Now, it I our belief that the correct position of the mean should be one standard deviation to the left of center, meaning we should live in a political state of a participatory role of government as collective action in a liberal system, where the role of the governed playing any role, is liberal, notice the lowercase “l”.

The position on the right, if the allowance is for individuality, then it is also liberal for the rights of the individual to exist of the dictates of a sovereign. It is evident to ability for societal advancement is through collectivity rather than individualism, but also that it is through the strength and perseverance of the individual to pursue means and mechanisms to invent and develop processes, procedures and devices to improve the lives of the citizenry that the innerworkings come about.

To this end, we were immensely pleased to learn of the efforts to define our political electorate by the Pew Charitable Trust as discussed on the PBS News Hour. We will remind our readers; Checks & Balances was selected as one of the PBS Points of Excellence on the Internet in 1997. They two have defined the community into nine specific groups and have as a basis particular subdivision of left, right and center. Though their final definitions are unique and interesting to behold.

If you would like to know where you fall in the political spectrum take the quiz

Hausman Announces Retirement

Minnesota Report

We received this message in our email last evening conveyed from the DFL Senate District 66 Chair Ryan Lee.

Please see the below message from Representative Alice Hausman of House District 66A:

Dear friends in District 66,

I am sharing the announcement that I will not be running for re-election first with you, my steadfast supporters and partners in this work. There can never be enough words to fully express my thanks for the privilege of representing you. It is having wonderful constituents like you that has bolstered my continuing enthusiasm for this increasingly difficult but rewarding work. Thanks to the many of you who have shared your stories with me over the years. I was fortunate to be able to translate those stories into problem-solving legislative action.

As you know, my most visible work in recent years has been in the area of affordable housing. I owe much of my success to those who shared their heart-breaking stories about the hurdles they or their family or friends faced when trying to find affordable housing. Nothing else in life goes well if you don’t have a safe place to sleep at night.

It is hard to break away from my work in the House of Representatives, knowing there is still so much to be done. I believe, however, that now is the right time. Redistricting is at hand. When we gather in those new districts, we will reconnect with some familiar faces and also meet many new ones. New candidates will emerge. Like you, I will be vetting each to ensure we select the best one, someone who reflects our shared DFL values.

I look forward to continuing to represent you for the coming year. I have taken the opportunity during the interim to downsize and move to Falcon Heights. My new address is 1750 Larpenteur Avenue West, Unit 208. This is a big change for me but, having accomplished it, I look forward to the 2022 session with renewed energy. Please continue telling me those stories.

Warm regards,
Alice Hausman

We at SD66 DFL would like to thank Rep. Hausman for her years of service and for her continued efforts championing DFL values in our house district.

Ryan Lee
Chair, SD66 DFL



It’s Not Surprising to See Anti-Choice Laws Coming from Southern Legislatures

Minnesota Report

The fact, our nation continues to be divided on the issue of Abortion should come as no surprise, and the fact, state legislatures are dominated by paternalistic men who are quite comfortable dictating to women what they do with their bodies should come as no surprise.

As the US Supreme Court takes up two abortion questions this term, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization (Mississippi) and United States v TX et al it’s worth noting the composition of the legislatures that passed these respective pieces of legislation.

Both the Mississippi (MS) and Texas (TX) legislatures are dominated by men and even among the women legislators there is no guarantee they are pro-choice. Of the 120 MS House members, 17 or 14.17% are women and 10 or 8.34% are Democratic women. In the MS Senate, 11 or 21.15% members are women and 4 or 7.69% are Democratic women.

In the Lone Star state the number are slightly better. In the House, 35 or 23.34% are women and 29 or 19.34% are Democratic women. In the Senate, 10 or 32.26% are women and 4 or 12.9% are Democratic women.

Because of our nation’s system of Checks & Balances, the US Supreme Court is the arbiter of the law of the land, with the exception of Federal Law, which when passed by Congress and signed by the President supersedes court action. So as occurred, with the Roe v. Wade (1973) decision it became the law of the land. The composition of court being 6 men and 3 women, with Justice Amy Coney Barrett being a know critic of Roe, it is expected a significant undermining of long-standing precedence will fall and potential the entire provision will be overturned.

This is a prime motivator for new women seeking elective office and our attendance at an event for Leslie Lienemann (DFL-Maplewood), who expressed this very sentiment, and also hearing similar comments from freshmen Reps Kaela Berg (DFL-56B, Burnsville) and Jessica Hanson (56A, Burnsville) who were on-hand and are examples of women, who felt compelled to step forward and who embody this premise. Many women should ask themselves if not me, who, if not now when.

The United States is in the midst of a Cultural War and there is a distinctive North and South divide in addition to an additional layering of Rural, Urban and Suburban.

Minneapolis Early Voting with Six Days Until Election

Minnesota Report

Focus: Minneapolis

With an eye on Minneapolis and its municipal elections, we thought a view of the early turnout numbers compared to 2017 worth visiting. In 2017, 105,928 voters cast ballots from the 259,060 registered voters, with 9,762 registering at the poll or through mailed in registration. Of those, 11.975 or 11.3% were Absentee Ballots. Now, this occurred before we had No Excuse Absentee Voting.

So far, as of yesterday, 3,422 people have either voted by mail, absentee, or voted early, which is 28.57% of the final total in 2017.

The three wards receiving the greatest amount of early activity are Wards 3 (Steve Fletcher-DFL), (Jamal Osman-DFL) 6 and (Lisa Goodman-DFL) 7.

It appears are not aggressively voting early this election.

Political Philosophy and Societal Change

Minnesota Report

Minnesota, as is the rest of the country, is experiencing a political upheaval. The sides are being drawn on mask mandates, vaccine efficacy and government response to the pandemic. As the debate rages, many people fail to see the forest through the trees, because it the pandemic, which some fools fail to believe, even with the death rate approaching 740,000 nationally, and 8,705 here in Minnesota, the concept of science and the reality is up for debate with the ignorant.

As we continue to hear the number of cases associated with the unvaccinated rise, and then those people once they contract the disease, have an epiphany, and wish they had taken the vaccine, the level of sympathy diminishes. Additionally, since Donald J Trump (R) is the prime culprit in spouting disinformation and now former White House Corona Virus Coordinator Dr Deborah Birx, his coconspirator, now says if a federal mask mandate had been made 35-40% less deaths would likely have occurred, it leaves one with a sense of futility.

It also brings to mind the fact, that Trump voters are less educated, with the fact, non-college educated supported him in 2016, and saw a decline in 2020.  Whites lacking college degrees fell 4%.

To this point we are reminded about one of the first things learned in college, which was critical thinking, which is a didactive educational process. Critical thinking is a significant part of the Scientific Method, and we believe if taken to the point where if all fifty states are supposedly experimental laboratories of democracy, we wonder when the proof will materialize.

If as the Scientific Methods consists of a simple process:

  1. Make an Observation.
  2. Ask a Question.
  3. Test Your Hypothesis and Collect Data.
  4. Examine the Results and Draw Conclusions.
  5. Report the Results.

Does our social experiment fail because the structure of the question, the results are in dispute, or the conclusions drawn are flawed?

As we experience this pandemic, and the role played by government being challenged because some people do not recognize the need for government. Clearly, the fail to read the history of the 1918 Influenza pandemic, the 1929 Great Depression, the New Deal Franklin Delano Roosevelt (D), the creation of Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid and the Great Society programs of Lyndon Baines Johnson (D). As it is often said, those who fail to appreciate history are doomed to repeat it.

The ability to apply critical thinking, an appreciation of history and as this pandemic continues tot plague us, the worthy response is not to turn on Fox News and listen to the deniers, who actually are vaccinated just as Trump was when he took his mysterious trip to Walter Reed Hospital in the middle of the night to get his first vaccination in January. Which as we know, didn’t prevent him from getting the COVID virus at all.

This is our state of affairs, after experiencing the Presidency of a self-involved huckster, and carnival barker rather than a person concern with the wellbeing of our nation.

Was Frey Defensive or Confident?

Minnesota Report

Focus: Municipal Elections

Friday’s Minneapolis Mayoral Debate on Almanac, was clearly more of a discussion, and a situation where the three other candidates in the race Sheila Nezhad (DFL-Minneapolis), Kate Knuth (DFL-Minneapolis), and AJ Awed (DFL-Minneapolis) all tried to get a glove on incumbent Mayor Jacob Frey (DFL-Minneapolis), and failed. These four were chosen to be on the program and seen as the candidates with the most popular support from the field of 17.  Frey used debating points calling for specifics on the attacks from his critics, and successfully labeled Knuth and a Flip Flopper, with assistance from Awed.

During the discussion, we learned Nezhad and Knute are asking their supporters to vote for the other as their second-choice, which is nothing short of collusion.

In politics, it’s impossible to beat somebody with nobody, and in this case, because of the Ranked Choice Voting system, the diffusion of the voices fails to allow people to identify a clear contender to Frey. A poll released yesterday by the Democratic Polling firm ALG, with offices in DC, AL, IL, MA and NY, show Frey with a double-digit lead over the field with 44%, followed by Nezhad 25%, Knute 10% and Awed 3%. After the redistribution of votes in two simulated rounds, both Frey s and Nezhad gains only 2%, with 12% Exhausted and 13% Undecided.

With only a week before Election Day, and early voting underway, it will be interesting to see if anything shakes up this contest, because nothing during the Almanac performance did.

Everyone Should Take a Picture of Their Ballot This Election

Minnesota Report

Focus: Municipal Elections

There is a different campaign effort underway in Bloomington and Minnetonka for the voters who cast ballots in their municipal elections to take a picture of the single vote they cast in the voting booth. This is intended for voters who, oppose Ranked Choice Voting (RCV), to one, express their disgust for the voting system; two, show their clear intent; and three, have evidence for a court case.

The case will then encompass two realities, one, the fact that these voters selected a specific candidate, and if that candidate, fails to remain on the ballot, they were structurally disenfranchised and their vote was treated differently then other voters, a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, and when other votes are tabulated through a transference of their vote for more than one person, it is also a violation of the 14th Amendment, but this time, it is the concept of one-person, one-vote.

We have argued these points for years and it will be good to see, someone actually stands up and challenges RCV and proves it is a system in violation of the core concepts of American Democracy.

Impact of the Referenda

Minnesota Report

Focus: Municipal Elections

Next week voters in both Twin Cities will decide on the person to run their city and whether or not to institute a Rent Control measure in their respective communities. In St Paul, Mayor Melvin Carter III has not taken a position on the matter in the Capitol City, CITY QUESTION 1 (St. Paul) Whether to adopt a Residential Rent Stabilization Ordinance

and in Minneapolis, we are only going to highlight the positions of the three candidates we see as viable, incumbent Mayor Jacob Frey (DFL-Minneapolis) Sheila Nezhad (DFL-Minneapolis) and Kate Knuth (DFL-Minneapolis). All of the frontrunner candidates all support Ballot Question 3-Rent Control.

In the Mill City, there are two other issues being put before the voters, which will have significant impact on how their city is run and protected. Here is the entire Minneapolis Ballot.

On the Ballot Question 1-Government Structure: Executive Mayor-Legislative Council

Frey-Yes, Nezhad-No, Knuth-Undecided

On Ballot Question 2-Department of Public Safety

Frey-No, Nezhad-Yes, Knuth-Yes

The outside observers in us, believes the bipolarity of Question 1 & 2 will come into reality if voters support 1and support 2, but these questions will like drive turnout. It is also a testament to the significance of Minneapolis, which brought forward the “Defund the Police” slogan and many nights of riots and protests along with burning buildings in both major cities.

Trump Polling Numbers in Key States Falter

National and Minnesota Report Yesterday, articles in the New York Times and the Washington Post spelled good news for the former Vice-President Joe Biden’s campaign (D).

Senate Bonding Then and Now (2018 v 2020)

Minnesota Report Two years ago, the Republican controlled State Senate brought forward it’s Capitol Investment Bill, which failed to pass on a party line vote of 34-33, seven votes short of the 2/3rds majority of 41 votes. What is interesting I what the Republicans...

Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 Page

Minnesota Report On Friday, Governor Tim Walz (DFL-MN) along with Commissioner Jan Malcolm released the State of Minnesota’s comprehensive COVID-19 page on the Department of Health’s Website. Additionally, the MN House also has a page which provides more and...

Trump’s Continued Call for Hydroxychloroquine

National Report In spite of not having scientific support for his position Donald J Trump (R) continues to put forward his contention that the use of Hydroxychloroquine a drug for Malaria and Lupus and Erythromycin a drug for bacterial infections as a panacea to the...

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...

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...

2018 House State Fair Poll

Minnesota Report 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...

2018 Senate State Fair Poll

Minnesota Report State Senate  2016 State Fair Poll Questions (Choose one answer per question)   Demographics Residence Minneapolis/St. Paul Rural Suburban Regional hub of at least 40,000 people (Rochester, Duluth, St. Cloud, Mankato, Moorhead) Another state No...

MN Revenues Are Up Again

Minnesota Report Yesterday, Management and Budget Commissioner Jim Schowalter announced the October Revenue Figures and once again our state is collecting more money than was forecast in February....

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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...

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Legislative Return/Special Session 2020

Minnesota Report We are hearing the legislature will likely be recalled for Special Session June 12th, which is just before Governor Tim Walz’ (DFL-MN) last peacetime emergency declaration is set to expire. In order to declare another one, he will need to receive...

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