Light Rail, Met Council and Hennepin County - Is Resistance Futile?
Jeff Johnson to Speak at SD 49 March 28 Dinner Program
Is resistance to proceeding with the SWLR project futile? Are efforts to rein in hefty year-after-year increases in Hennepin County property taxes futile?
Come hear Jeff Johnson, the lone conservative voice on the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners, speak on his experiences at our March 28th dinner program. CLICK HERE for more details and to RSVP!
Last June, the state legislature adjourned without appropriating $144.5 million in local funding for the Southwest Light Rail (SWLR) project. Without this local funding, it appeared that the state would not get the federal funding needed to proceed with this $1.858 billion effort.
Then, in August, Governor Dayton came to the Met Council and to Hennepin County with a plan:
- The Metropolitan Council would finance $91.75 million
- The Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB) would come up with $32.25 million.
- Hennepin County would kick in an additional $20.5 million to the project. Hennepin County’s share of the additional dollars will come from a property tax increase from 2016 to 2017 that affects residential and business properties.
The Governor, without a vote of any representative body beyond seven Hennepin County Commissioners, had overcome the resistance of a majority on the MN House of Representatives to the hugely expensive light rail construction project.
WHEN: Tuesday, March 28. Doors open at 6pm. Come for the dinner at 6:30pm or just the program at 7 pm
WHERE: Calvary Lutheran Church, Edina
MN Health Insurance Reforms Enacted
On January 26, the Minnesota Legislature overwhelmingly approved the Health Care Emergency Aid and Access Plan. Passing with bipartisan support, the plan introduces the first reforms to the Minnesota health insurance marketplace and provides partial temporary relief to some who have individual health insurance or who were forced into a 2017 plan that doesn’t cover their doctor or hospital. It compassionately extends coverage with their current providers for those with treatment in-progress and those nearing end of life.
The Plan includes key Republican-led reforms that are intended to
- preserve care for those receiving life-saving treatments
- increase competition
- increase consumer choice moving forward.
“This is a first step in a session-long effort to address the problems created by Obamacare and MNsure,” said Susan Closmore, Director of Public Affairs, House Republican Caucus.
To read more about the plan and the reforms introduced by it, CLICK HERE.
OAK Reports on Major MN School Choice Initiative
SD49 celebrated National School Choice Week on January 24 by hosting Lee McGrath and Chas Anderson, representing “Opportunity for All Children”. OAK is the premier advocacy organization in Minnesota focused solely on building grassroots support and advocating for parental choice in education for all families. OAK's mission is to ensure that every child in Minnesota has access to an education that will help the child thrive.
Chas Anderson stressed that while all states have concerns with the educational outcomes of African-American and Hispanic students, it is particularly acute in Minnesota. Our state ranks at the bottom (50th out of 50 states) in terms African-American high school graduation rates. It ranks 49th out of 50 states for Hispanic graduation rates. In MN inner-city schools, graduation rates are less than 50% for these minority students.
Lee McGrath pointed out that many private high schools, whether run by religious or secular organizations, have greatly improved the educational experience of minority students, as measured through state and local assessment tests and graduation rates of 99%. Unfortunately, the ones needing this private school opportunity are the ones who can least afford it.
CLICK HERE to read more about the initiative that's been approved by House and Senate committees.
Reminder: Save the date for the February Dinner meeting in the hall of Calvary Lutheran Church in Edina at 6 PM on Feburary 28. Topic and registration will be announced shortly. Where & When : 6817 Antrim Rd, Edina, MN 55439, Feb. 28, 6 – 9 PM. Dinner starts at 6:30 pm. Program starts at 7 pm.
Fall Conversation Panelists Chart Course for New Legislature
January Update: Another video segment from the Fall Conversation is available for you. This nine-minute video focuses on Regulations and Taxes in the Minnesota Economy. CLICK HERE to view.
Senate District 49’s sixth annual “Fall Conversation” once again presented some great wine tasting options and a panel discussion that took the promise of the new Republican legislature head on.
Over forty people turned out for the event at the Edina Country Club on Thursday evening, November 17. The ideas presented by the panel members were appropriately challenging.
The panel members brought their own perspectives, coming from different backgrounds within the Twin Cities. Mitch Berg is an outspoken political pundit and conservative radio talk show host on AM1280. Rep. Jerry Hertaus was recently re-elected to his third term as the representative to the Minnesota House from District 33A with 68% of the vote. Peter Nelson is Vice President and Senior Policy Fellow at the Center of the American Experiment.
NEW - A Video Sample of the Fall Conversation is online. CLICK HERE
SD 49’s own Bill Glahn was the panel moderator, and he broke the ice very quickly. To read more about what the panel members had to say, CLICK HERE.
SWLRT Key to Met Council’s Plan for Urban Densities in the Suburbs
The Southwest Light Rail Transit plan is the latest power grab by the big government planners at the Metropolitan Council. Accountable to no-one but the Governor, the Metropolitan Council is intent on re-imagining our lives through centralized planning. The central feature of this centralized planning is ever increasing levels of light rail transit. While some refer to the “dream” of light rail, the reality is more like a nightmare.
The so-called “Green Line Extension,” otherwise known as the Southwest Light Rail Transit (SWLRT), appeared to be in jeopardy when the Minnesota legislature did not approve $144.5 million in state funding for it. However, in a calculated political move, Gov Dayton bypassed the legislature. He got three metropolitan boards to come up with the funding instead.
To read how SWLRT is critical to the central planning vision of Dayton and the Met Council, CLICK HERE.
Update: Franchise Fees, Taxes in Disguise
On August 24 the MN Supreme Court unanimously decided against the City of St. Paul and for two churches that appealed their right-of-way (ROW) fee assessments, deciding that these were indeed taxes.
That decision may, eventually, open the door for nonprofits to challenge the pass-through utility Franchise Fee schemes that have become popular ways for cities like Bloomington and Edina to fund road, sidewalk and trail repairs without constraining discretionary budgets or increasing property taxes.
While the cities of Bloomington and Edina have made no comment on the court decision, the City of Duluth is wisely not waiting for someone to file a separate lawsuit on their Franchise Fees that are directed towards general city services like road repair. Instead Duluth is responsibly and proactively making plans to adjust tax levies and their budget priorities to ensure non-Franchise Fee funding for such core city services
CLICK HERE for our article with more information.
In a 3-part series we highlighted Bloomington’s Excessive new Franchise Fees, equivalent to a 14% property tax increase, and the Utility Fee Add-On that added a half-million-dollar surplus each year to the “Solid Waste / Curbside Cleanup” program fund. Here are links to those 3 articles.