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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Sorry Rural Minnesota - You Got Duped By The MN House GOP

Category: 2016
Posted: 04/25/15 21:53

by Dave Mindeman

The Star Tribune finally put some newspaper words that talks about what has been percolating under the surface at the Capitol all session.... the GOP's supposed "emphasis" on rural Minnesota.

The House Republicans, in their cutting zeal, have forgotten that greater Minnesota actually has policies that they want which require investment.

It looks like rural Minnesota is discovering the same tired old MN GOP:

...the centerpiece of the GOP agenda is a $2 billion tax cut plan that has left few resources for those rural-geared initiatives.

And it is not like outstate advocates didn't tell them about their priorities...

Two groups, the Greater Minnesota Partnership and Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities, together represent dozens of outstate cities, businesses, chambers of commerce, nonprofits and other groups. As the session started, the two groups released a list of priorities, the top one being $100 million for grants and tax credits aimed at building new housing for middle-income workers in small communities.

At a time of a nearly $2 billion surplus, that seemed like a reasonable request. But has it happened? No.

And then there is broadband. Rural Minnesota needs this upgrade to enhance their ability to keep up in the information age. The Democrats have been working on this, although not at the pace that greater Minnesota has wanted. But guess what, the House GOP CUT IT! At first, under Rep. Pat Garofalo, they completely eliminated the program - but when the grumbling started to get louder, they slipped in an $8 million token to continue funding it...which didn't stop the grumbling.

And greater Minnesota also looked for more help in targeted LGA money for rural cities. Instead, what they got is a House GOP plan to punish Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Duluth (all DFL strongholds) with $85 million in cuts. But did the rural cities get an equivalent bump? Again, NO is the answer as the money was added to the "tax cut pool".

And then there is MinnesotaCare. Republicans have gleefully jumped onto a cutting spree in Health and Human Services which ends the "giveaway" known as MinnesotaCare. But,hey, wait a minute, there is a fact getting in the way....

To pay for its tax cuts, the GOP is pursuing major reductions in health and human services spending. Among those, eliminating MinnesotaCare, the health insurance subsidy program for lower income workers. But that repeal could also wind up hurting rural Minnesota. According to information compiled by the Department of Human Services, the 25 counties with the highest number of MinnesotaCare enrollees per capita all are outstate.

Part of the workings for the Minnesota version of the ACA was a change in how assets were treated in determining eligibility for MinnesotaCare. What this did is allow rural farmers to obtain health care through the MinnesotaCare program. Since farmers can't get coverage via discounted group rates, this allowed them to get affordable coverage via an already in place state program - which has been working.

But apparently the House GOP wants to dump them into that "high risk" pool once more.

And then there is the estate tax cut they are planning. The House GOP believes that farmers would be the biggest beneficiary. However, most of the small rural farmer in Minnesota are already exempt under the current estate tax law - although the big mega corporate farm owners will realize a huge benefit.

Yes, there are some nursing home provisions that will benefit rural areas more than metro - although why they needed to be treated so differently is mystery for the House GOP to explain.

So, after all the rhetoric about how the House GOP was now going to truly meet the needs of greater Minnesota....we find out that these charlatans don't really understand what rural Minnesota actually wants.

Sorry, rural Minnesota, you've been had.
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Gun Culture Wins Another One

Category: Guns
Posted: 04/25/15 10:25

by Dave Mindeman

Despite Democratic control in the MN Senate, there are elements of the Senate that should worry progressives.

In another indication that there is a NRA type majority in the MN Senate, that body tacked an amendment onto a bill that would remove the ban on gun silencers.

The amendment puts this policy change along side a change that would give felons who have served their sentences, the right to vote once more. It was that part of the total bill that caused most of the GOP minority to vote against the bill.

But the silencer amendment passed 40-23. To me, that is disturbing.

Gov. Dayton issued a veto threat on the silencer issue, but if this language stays in the final general bill, will that threat still hold?

The NRA influence in the legislator is much too strong. Even with Democratic majorities (in the current Senate and in the previous House), their policy demands always get undue attention. The NRA looks to promote a number of obscure gun laws that seem to be looking for a complete elimination of any gun restriction - no matter how minor. What possible value can there be for silencers? What general public purpose need is that addressing?

Gun culture dominates this society...it even permeates Minnesota.

This has to change.
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Sen. Al Franken: Just Getting The Job Done

Category: Al Franken
Posted: 04/25/15 09:47

by Dave Mindeman

I went to MinnRoast last night - and if you have never gone to this annual event, get there next time - it is a great evening of fun....but like I say, I went to MinnRoast and got to hear from a lot of Minnesota Democrats plus a little Tom Emmer.

Al Franken was the finale speaker and I expected to hear some much deserved chest thumping about the announcement yesterday that Comcast was cancelling its proposed merger with Time Warner.

But in his usual self-deprecating way, Franken just gave a one sentence mention without talking much about the major role he played in stopping this potential corporate dagger in the heart of consumerism.

Franken was a lonely voice of caution when Comcast made its announcement. Wall Street was happy, the Fed regulators were asleep, and Congress was keeping busy with their usual list of partisan issues. But Al said, 'wait a minute' - is this really a good deal for the American people?

It wasn't. And Al embarked on a one Senator campaign to raise enough questions about the deal that eventually educated enough people and garnered enough attention that Comcast felt it had to withdraw its bid.

If this deal had gone through, the influence of the company would have been enormous....

Combined Comcast and Time Warner Cable would have given control of more than 50% of the home broadband market -- and dominance in 19 of the 20 largest media markets, says Todd O'Boyle, program director at Common Cause, a government watchdog group. "That is anti-competitive by anybody's definition," he said.

Once regulators finally took a hard look at the deal, the questions got louder....and the debate on net neutrality, (for which Franken also led the charge) gave more scrutiny to this mega-merger.

Franken's early involvement in questioning the merger was not one of those 'red meat' liberal issues, but it is one of those things that affects just about everybody in their daily lives.

Al Franken has become an extraordinary Senator...and extremely funny.

You'll have to hear the story about Al and Amy's Delta flight some day - especially when told by Al Franken.

In the meantime, let's thank Al Franken for doing a great job representing all of us.
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