News Releases

Lack of Faith in Dr Jensen’s Negotiating Prowess

Minnesota Report

When you come with the title of Doctor then trust is baked into the formula. So, it is why, when the negotiations over Insulin was placed in Dr Scott Jensen’s (R-47, Chaska) people deferred to the doctor and believed when he said, if Minnesota struck an agreement with Big Pharma, they promised not to sue the state.

Well, Minnesota followed Jensen’s and instead of providing insulin at lower costs and serving more people, they agree to have higher costs and serve fewer people believe the state would not be sued. Oh, how wrong they were.

Now, the people in need, are still in need, the costs are too high for a veritably cheap to produce life-saving drug and Big Pharma wants even more.

Delegates to the Republican Caucuses should be leery of the abilities of a one-term legislator who, when tasked with an important role, failed.

The State Legislature Could Actually Pass a Congressional Redistricting Plan

Minnesota Report

The reality is, if the state legislature acts and the Governor Tim Walz (DFL-MN) signs, a redistricting plan goes into effect. At this time, the legislature is at odds over what plans it will put forward. Because of the partisan divide, the House DFL Majority has put forward its redistricting plans Murphy Congressional Plan Map and  Murphy Congressional Plan Map and Murphy Legislative Plan Map claiming it to be fair, except it’s view as totally partisan and the Republican House Minority in turn has advanced its own plans Torkelson Congressional Plan Map and Torkelson Legislative Plan Map which are just as partisan in the opposite direction. So far, the Senate is silent on the question and has offered up nothing at all.

Unless the legislative bodies and the governor agree, then it will be left to the 5-Judge Court Panel. There are a series of plans have been submitted by the plaintiffs and they are: Wattson Congressional Plan and Wattson Legislative Plan (The original Plaintiffs), and Anderson Congressional Plan and the Anderson Legislative Plan (The Plaintiff-Intervenors aka The Republicans) Sachs Congressional Plan and Sachs Legislative Plan (The DFL Plaintiffs), Corrie Congressional Plan and Corrie Legislative Plan (The Plaintiff-Intervenors aka BIPOC Community Interests).

Now, as the headline reads and a view of the Wattson Congressional and the Anderson Congressional Plans, you should see the two are fairly similar and some will argue the Anderson Plan might even be better. If this is the case, we contend if the legislature wanted to prove it had any bi-partisan tendencies and wanted to prove to the public that the two sides can reach a viable compromise, then The House and Senate should draft a bill based on the Anderson Plan and have it pass both bodies and presented to the governor for signature, our state could have the first Congressional Redistricting Plan passed by the legislature and not decided by the courts in 60-years. This would be a stellar accomplishment.

Now, the legislative redistricting map is a different issue entirely. Since it’s the legislature would need to decide, each and every member will view and proposed map through their own lens and with their own perspective. This myopic view is why, with a partisan divided legislature we expect the court will again decide.

The DFL Party Dodges a Bullet

Minnesota Report

Earlier this week, the DFL Party State Executive Committee considered and firmly rejected to the formation of a constituency caucus called Democratic Socialists. Now, yes, it is clear, there are hard-left leaning politicians and individuals that self-identify with this label, Sen Bernie Sanders (I-VT) who coined it, Rep Ilhan Omar (DSA-MN05), State Senator Omar Fateh (DSA-62, Minneapolis) newly elected Minneapolis City Council Members Jason Chavez (DSA-Ward 09, Mpls), Aisha Chughta (DSA-Ward 10, Mpls) and Robin Wonsley Worlobah (DSA-Ward 02, Mpls) St Paul City Council Member Nelsie Yang (DSA,-Ward 06. St Paul) and others have expressed their support, but incorporating another party into the DFL is far more involved. Tactically, DFL Party Chair Ken Martin encouraged supporters to prepare a a proposal and after two-years of effort their idea crashed on the rocks of reality.

We contend, any allowance of Democratic Socialists of American into the DFL Party s counter to the DFL Party’s survival. In 1944, the DFL Party was formed through a merger of the Democratic Party, and the Farmer Labor Party, with the Democratic side being the weaker of the two. After the merger, the DFL Party became competitive and later overcame the Republican Party. As it was related at the time, the DFL under the leadership of Hubert Humphrey II, Orville Freeman, and Elmer Kelm, purged the Communists and kept the Socialists and a politically progressive party was formed. The Socialists who the DFL retained were Union Trade Laborers and Farm Unionists which support cooperative agricultural controls.

Now, seventy-seven years later the terms and structures have changed as well as the processes and politics. Its clear there is a fervency of the left-side of the political calculus and a demand for rapid change. In light of the murders of Philando Castile, George Floyd, Daunte Wright and others followed by the failure of the Police Reform Amendment and the elections in in Minneapolis, not everything leads in the same direction.

Any form of self-labeling, may seem like an opportunity for identification, but it actually is creating ones own limitations and self-boxing. Socialism, is a political system, along with Communism, in which Republicans have used as a boogeyman dating back to the Cold War. In America, its virtues are only discussed in colleges and Universities by fringe political professors. It has a weightier place on the international stage because of China and Russia. Just as Critical Race Theory, it is a concept not a practice and it is a native’ political person who advocates for its inclusion anywhere in the United States Democratic Party. Maybe, this is why Chavez, the former head of the MYDFL, Chughta and Yang, the two youngest members of their respective city councils voiced their support.

The American system of Capitalism faces its own challenges regarding equity and fairness, but because it is a system designed based on aspiration and opportunity, it resonates well with a western mentality of Rugged Individualism. This may also be why calls for such often come from political people in safe districts rather than people who actually have to fight for their seats with Republicans.

Collective action is understood and incorporated at times such as Social Security, MediCare and MediCaid, but it is not the first position, people from other cultures like Ilhan Omar and Omar Fateh may see values in other economic systems but it is through the political openness of American Democracy these discussions can be had.

The opposition vote on the Democratic Socialist Caucus was 38-9. We have assembled letters of people who supported the move and believe truly, there should be discussion of either removing the DFL endorsement or preventing people who actively carry the label of DSA from seeking or receiving the DFL Party endorsement in the future. Politics has consequences, stick your neck in the wrong hole it can get chopped off.

The DFL Party must also consider self-preservation and the Democratic Socialists of America are starved for membership and will gladly welcome new members, especially those with election certificates.

Ilhan Omar_DSA Letter

Omar Fateh LetterDSCaucus_DSA Lettter

Jason Chavez LOS_DSA Letter

Nelsie Yang_DSA Lettter

Jen McEwen DS Caucus Letter of Support_DSA Letter

Mike Mayou Caucus Support Letter_DSA Letter

Kara Gloe_DSA Letter

With The State’s Fiscal House is a Strong Position, what is Our Debt Capacity?

Minnesota Report

 

Historically, when the Revenue Forecast is released, we are at the press conference and ask a standard question of the Office of Management and Budget Commissioner, which is what tis the state’s Debt Capacity. This year, as I was last year, we didn’t attend the briefing at the state Capitol, due to COVID, it was virtual and needed to get to get our question answered later. Hence the reason this information didn’t come at the same time as the Revenue Forecast.

In 2009, the state adopted two guidelines for Debt Capacity. Both are intended to provide a measurable value of the state’s ability to meet a debt obligation and are measured against the amount of personal income collected. Guideline #1 compares the total amount of debt the state has sold and currently owes to the state’s personal income. It also comes with this caveat, “Our measure for Guideline #1 is that the amount of debt sold and currently owed does not exceed 3.25% of personal income.” Guideline #2 compares the total amount of authorized state debt, including state moral obligations and equipment capital leases, to personal income. This limitation is, “Our measure for Guideline #2 is that total debt authorized does not exceed 6% of personal income.”

Under Guideline #1 the state’s Debt Capacity is $3.759 billion but with an Asterix, the Asterix being “Bonds authorized are typically not sold all at once; they are sold over several years.”

Under Guideline #2 the state’s Debt Capacity is $8.791 billion.

Again, the state is well positioned to have a historically sized Bonding Bill and with the combination of Federal dollars we are facing a once in a lifetime opportunity to boost tour state’s economy with new jobs and technological advancements paid off over 30-years.

This is a year for being bold and also through bonding, a way for our state to aggressively fight back against COVID.

Here is the Management and Budget Forecast on Debt Capacity.

State Coffers are Flush with a Projected Continuing Upside

Minnesota Report

Today, the Office of Management and Budget released the November Revenue Forecast. The amount being a surplus of $7.7 billion. The Minnesota economy, jobs numbers and unemployment rates all surpass the federal figures. The outlook is clear and bright and into the far-out years. This is the preliminary information coming prior to the legislative session which will base its actions on the February Forecast, which should glow evermore rosy.

We expect because its an election year Republicans will start their kneejerk calls for tax cuts and the DFL will bolster existing programs, and maybe call for new spending, but that will be in a Supplement Budget. Since even years are Bonding Bill Sessions, a larger than normal Capital Investment Bill is warranted and justified. We truly are in a position to fix the roof when the sun is shining. As we have said before we think there should be a deferred Maintenance Bonding Bill. Any Republican that says deficit spending, or state debt is a curtailing factor should be turned from office, just because of their limited intellectual capacity. This surplus when combined with the federal monies from the infrastructure bill will go a long way and we suggest Governor Tim Walz (DFL-MN) and the DFL House Majority should make sure their spreadsheets and rhetoric consist of a column for the federal contribution and the state match because we will be able to have a two-to-one match, state to federal. Giving the Biden Administration a public pat on the back at every turn is a way to help push up poll numbers for Democrats statewide.

A link to the American Rescue Plan is on the MMB website showing its value here in Minnesota.

The report does carry a dosage of caution and expresses some factors for consideration.

  • Path of pandemic
  • Inflation
  • Labor force participation
  • Supply chain issues
  • Global growth
  • 19 months until end of FY 2022-23

We have included links to the presentation and report for you to view.

The Simmering Tensions Between Boebert and Omar Boil Over

National Report

Today, another salvo was fired in the battle between Rep Lauren Boebert (R-CO05) and Rep Ilhan Omar (D-MN05). This escalating War of Words, Tweets and floor statements is a sharp example of the culture wars playing out on the floor of the House of Representatives where the insurrection occurred.

The two had a phone call, which resulted in more conflict and is reflected below in Omar’s press release and Boebert’s Twitter response.

How did this first occur?

This simmering feud, appears to have started back in May, but has taken on a heighted state of fervor recently.  During the floor discussion on the censure of Rep Paul Gosar (R-AZ04), Boebert referred to Omar as a member of the jihad squad, and discussed her payment of over a million dollars in her campaign funds to “her husband, not her brother husband.”  To which, Omar fired back via Twitter, Luckily my dad raised me right, otherwise I might have gone to the floor to talk about this insurrectionist who sleeps with a pervert. I am grateful I was raised to be a decent human and not a deprived person who shamefully defecates & defiles the House of Representatives. 🙏🏽 God

The pervert reference is because Boebert’s husband was convicted and spent time in jail for exposing himself to two women in a bowling alley.

On Thanksgiving, more shots were fired. Boebert is seen in a video, at a fundraiser where she recalls a situation where she and Omar were in a Capitol elevator and as Capitol police showed some concern, to which Boebert said.” She doesn’t have a backpack so we should be fine.”

https://twitter.com/i/status/1463903881553920004

Omar disputes this ever occurred. In response Boebert put out the following on Twitter.

“I apologize to anyone in the Muslim community I offended with my comment about Rep. Omar,” Boebert tweeted. “I have reached out to her office to speak with her directly. There are plenty of policy differences to focus on without this unnecessary distraction.”

Rep. Ilhan Omar Statement on Conversation with Rep. Lauren Boebert

WASHINGTON—Today, Rep. Ilhan Omar released the following statement after she spoke with Rep. Lauren Boebert.

“Today, I graciously accepted a call from Rep. Lauren Boebert in the hope of receiving a direct apology for falsely claiming she met me in an elevator, suggesting I was a terrorist, and for a history of anti-Muslim hate. Instead of apologizing for her Islamophobic comments and fabricated lies, Rep. Boebert refused to publicly acknowledge her hurtful and dangerous comments. She instead doubled down on her rhetoric and I decided to end the unproductive call.

“I believe in engaging with those we disagree with respectfully, but not when that disagreement is rooted in outright bigotry and hate.

“To date, the Republican Party leadership has done nothing to condemn and hold their own members accountable for repeated instances of anti-Muslim hate and harassment. This is not about one hateful statement or one politician; it is about a party that has mainstreamed bigotry and hatred. It is time for Republican Leader McCarthy to actually hold his party accountable.”

Background:

Rep. Omar is subject to routine death threats and plots on her life, often responding to anti-Muslim rhetoric. Anti-Muslim hate is on the rise both here at home and around the world.

  • In 2019, a white supremacist opened fire at multiple mosques in New Zealand, killing over 50 people.
  • This summer, we witnessed a deadly anti-Muslim attack wipe out three generations of a Muslim family in Canada.
  • This year has seen over 500 incidents of hate in the U.S.
  • This included a sudden rise in anti-mosque incidents in May and June involving cases of vandalism and an attempted stabbing, and several physical assaults targeting Muslim women wearing hijabs.

In October, Rep. Omar introduced the Combating International Islamophobia Act, legislation to address the rise in incidents of Islamophobia worldwide that requires the State Department to create a Special Envoy for monitoring and combating Islamophobia.

Rep. Boebert has demonstrated a clear pattern for Islamophobic hate speech.

  • Last week, she falsely claimed she met Rep. Omar in an elevator, claimed a Capitol Police Officer was fretfully chasing her, that Rep. Omar was a member of the quote- “jihad squad” and said “well she doesn’t have a backpack so we should be fine.”
  • She said Omar and other politicians are “full time propagandists …for state sponsored terrorism,” and “politicians with suicide belts strapped their body.”
  • On May 10, she called Omar “a full-time propagandist for Hamas.”
  • On May 16, she said Omar and Rep. Rashida Tlaib “need to register as foreign agents?”
  • On June 8, she called Omar an “honorary member of Hamas” and that we have “terrorist sympathizers” in Congress.
  • This is not the first time she has fabricated a story about Rep. Omar. In September, she called Omar and Tlaib “evil” and said earlier this year she and a staffer were in an elevator with Rep. Omar when Boebert called Omar the “jihad squad.”

Boebert responded herself via Twitter https://twitter.com/laurenboebert/status/1465401647694290952?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Etweet

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

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. https://mn.gov/mmb-stat/000/az/forecast/2021/monthly-revenue-review/october.pdf

With 2022 being and Election Year, we expect Republicans will call for tax breaks and the DFL will call for more services. Everything will be fairly back to normal, except the House will still be under pandemic protocols. There never a better legislative show when there is a surplus, except when there is a shortfall.

The November Revenue Forecast set for release in early December will set the stage for the positions being staked out and with the field of candidates challenging Governor Tim Walz (DFL-MN) we expect the slings and arrows will start to sing even louder.

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.

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/where-democrats-and-republicans-agree-disagree-on-abortion-police-climate-and-more

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

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/where-democrats-and-republicans-agree-disagree-on-abortion-police-climate-and-more

2018 State Fair Polls

Once again, we attended the Great-Minnesota-Get-Together and stopped by the legislative booths in the Education Building. We collected the Annual Polls from the House and Senate. As we have said, this often is an indicator of where the majorities legislative...

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...

2017 House State Fair Poll

Minnesota Report Official Ballot  Minnesota House of Representatives 2017 State Fair Poll Question 1. Should handheld cell phone use be illegal when operating a motor vehicle, except in emergency situations?...

2016 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. Official Ballot  Minnesota House of Representatives 2016 State Fair Poll Question 1. Do you support an increase in the...

What to Expect from the Legislature Today?

Minnesota Report The agenda for the legislature is limited and focused on issues surrounding the COVID-19 Virus and there are a number of ways it is adversely affecting our state. A view of the times for consideration by the House Rules and Legislative Administration...

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What the House Looks Like During COVID-19

Minnesota Report Watching yesterday’s proceedings of the Minnesota House of Representatives during the passage of extension of Worker’s Compensation Benefits to First-Responders and other personnel who contract COVID-19 in the course of doing their jobs, was an...

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Gas Prices Falling Slowly, with Reduced Travel

Minnesota Report The cost of gasoline has not taken as dramatic of a decline as one would think during the COVID-19 pandemic and the Stay-at-Home order. The range in St Paul via Gas Buddy is $1.89-1.57 and with the price of oil floating around $25/barrel one would...

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