Republican Lawmakers Introduce Amendment To Downsize Legislature

nimble_government.jpgAs reported by the Associated Press, published in the St. Paul Pioneer Press last week, two Republicans, Rep. Nick Zerwas and Sen. Scott Jensen, introduced a constitutional amendment March 8 that would decrease the size of the Legislature.

If the bill to reduce the Legislature by 54 members (27%) is approved by the Legislature, the question would be on the November ballot. Voter approval would make the change effective starting in 2022, which aligns with the timing for redistricting.

With 201 members (67 state senators, 134 representatives), Minnesota’s Legislature is currently 4th largest in the country.

Edina Conservative Students settle Lawsuit with School Board

The Edina school board voted unanimously to settle a federal lawsuit filed by five Edina High School students and their parents. The lawsuit accused the district of violating the First Amendment rights of conservative students and wrongfully disbanding the Young Conservative Club.

The board voted unanimously to approve the settlement in a closed session during a special meeting Thursday evening, March 1.

united-states-of-america-flag-1462903818ek6.jpgA group of conservative students filed suit in early December against the school district claiming their organization, the Young Conservative Club, was terminated after club members took to social media to criticize a student-led protest of the U.S. flag and the National Anthem. (The district denies terminating the club.)

Erick Kaardal, an attorney representing the students, called the school’s action “a clear case of discrimination against students with conservative beliefs by a school whose policies have been documented as promoting an extreme ideological agenda.”

According to attorneys representing the students, Edina High School agreed to the following:
• U.S. flags will hang in every classroom.
• The Young Conservatives Club can be reinstated as a school-sponsored club, or a non-sponsored club…with the ability to exercise free speech without consequence.
• USA Day is restored to Spirit Week, and district administration cannot object to the theme.
• District Policy 628 (Education Programs, Student Activities Program) and the EHS Club Guidelines and Responsibilities policies were amended to include language that respects students’ right to free speech, and that revocation may not be based on the exercise of free speech or free association rights.

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SD49 Learns How Local Police are dealing with Community Mental Health Issues

Officer_Kevin_Rofidal_for_Newsletter.jpgSenate District 49 Republicans listened intently February 27 as two local police officers spoke of the growing role that they and their departments are playing in responding to people in our community suffering from mental health crises.

Officer_Scott_Marks_for_newsletter.jpgEdina Police Officer Kevin Rofidal (left) and Minnetonka Police Officer Scott Marks (right) spoke about the sharp growth in the mental health calls for service that their departments have been getting. Edina has seen such calls go from 49 in 2013 to 163 in 2016 and 154 in 2017. The trend in Minnetonka is similar, growing from 83 calls in 2005 to 391 calls in 2017, with only 6 of those resulting in an arrest.

The increase in calls is attributed to:
• people more willing to request help
• child protection calls due to parent drug use/mental health
• therapists calling 911 when a patient is a threat to self or others (handled as a medical emergency for hospitalization rather than an arrest).
• Perhaps, in part, the nonstop TV news, with 24 hours repetition of bad events.

The 1963 Community Mental Health Act was intended to base treatment in more community-oriented settings rather than inpatient / institutionalized care. Laws to protect civil rights were strengthened and 90% of psychiatric hospital beds were eliminated. But people ended up in jails instead. Currently 1/3 to 1/2 of all MN inmates are on medication for mental health.

Police officers aren’t mental health experts by trade. To deal with the growing number of mental health calls, our police forces are
• offering training courses to allow officers to hone the skills needed in mental health situations
• developing partnerships with metropolitan organizations better equipped to deal with the underlying issues

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Some Expectations of the 2018 Legislative Session

Legislative_Session_Starts_Press_Conf.jpgThe objective of the 2017 Minnesota legislature was to pass the biannual budget.  They almost completed it.  At the end of the last session, Gov. Dayton vetoed the operating budgets for the House and Senate.  It was an attempt to get the Republican majority to reverse their passage of some financial bills that the Governor originally accepted and then changed his mind.  So the start of the 2018 legislative session needed to redo what Gov Dayton has (again) indicated he’ll sign.

The legislature in 2018 would usually tackle capital expenditures and bonding bills.   However, as pointed out by Kyle Potter and Youssef Rddad in AP News  priority should be given to bring the Minnesota tax code into alignment with recently passed federal tax breaks.  If it is not, Minnesota tax payers will face increased tax complexity and possibly some tax increases.  The Department of Revenue has said that leaving the MN code as it is could trigger costly and time-consuming corrections – even audits – if files have to figure out how to meet different and potentially conflicting requirements.

The MN Department of Revenue provides its update on the state’s finances in March.  This report could make a critical difference, as the December estimate projected a small budget deficit for 2018.  The current thinking is there will actually be a sizeable surplus rather than a small deficit.


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Bloomington France Ave $5.6M Trail Public Hearing March 5

France_Ave_Trail.jpgWork on the France Ave Trail Project in Bloomington is moving forward. A public hearing about the project and expected action to “order the project” (give approval to continue with detailed design) is scheduled for Monday, March 5 at the Bloomington City Council. The Council meeting begins at 7 p.m. Now is the time for city taxpayers, as well as residents who live near or commute along France Ave., to state their views.

The estimated cost of the trail is now $5.6 million -- almost double the $3.1 million estimate cited when the 10 ft. wide, 3 mile bike path / pedestrian walkway combination concept was first floated in 2016, and as recently last fall during the sole neighborhood meeting.

The preliminary design includes an elevated boardwalk over a portion of a swampy marsh area that floods periodically, between 90th St. and 98th Street. Per Bloomington Engineering, the design has not yet been finalized and an additional neighborhood meeting is still planned.

Construction would begin in 2019, and would involve closures of some lanes on France Avenue during construction.

As reported in the SD49 Newsletter, one sparsely attended (by 25 people), “neighborhood” meeting was held November 30, 2017 and even the lower $3.1 million price tag raised some questions about cost-benefit.

More information about the project is at the city website. Click here.

Next Up: SD 49 Convention on Saturday, March 17

Convention_SD49.jpgThe caucuses have been conducted, and each precinct has elected delegates and alternates to the Senate District 49 Convention. The convention call will go out no later than February 17 to those who were eager (or at least willing) to become a delegate or alternate. As an advance look, this is what you can expect.

The SD 49 Convention will be held conveniently at Bethany Church, 6900 Auto Club Rd, Bloomington. This year, we are giving a later start time a try. Volunteers willing to help us set up registration and credentials will be asked to come at 8 am. Everyone else is asked to appear to register early enough so that you are in your seats to convene our convention at 10 am.

The main business of the convention will be to endorse our candidates to run in House Districts 49A and 49B. Dario Anselmo is the Republican incumbent in 49A and will seek our endorsement for another 2-year term.

If you want to be the Republican candidate for the Minnesota House for 49B (west Bloomington, south Edina, and some eastern precincts of Eden Prairie and Minnetonka), you are welcome to contact Mike Lehmann at or Randy Sutter at

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SD49 Caucus Straw Poll Goes for Downey

Several conclusions could be drawn from the precinct caucuses held in Senate District 49 on February 6. It is important at the start to recognize that a large number of volunteers took their roles seriously. They trained to do what they needed to do, and it was reflected in their execution. Our caucuses went very smoothly.

Straw_Poll_Results_chart.jpgThe Governor candidate straw poll did not excite the same passions as the Presidential candidate straw poll of 2016. The Republican turn-out was much less, inviting comparisons more with 2014 and the last Governor’s race. The 34 precincts of Senate District 49 attracted 336 attendees.

A special thanks goes out to the attendees who contributed during our caucuses to defray the caucus expenses. Neither the state of Minnesota nor the MN GOP cover many of the expenses involved in preparing for and conducting the caucuses. Your donations mean a lot.

Keith Downey was well-supported for Governor in his former home district, taking 43% of the straw poll voting in SD49. Jeff Johnson came in second with 32%, and Mary Giuliani Stephens polled 13%. 11% remained undecided. At the state level, Jeff Johnson garnered 46% of the votes, and Keith Downey claimed 15%.

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Governor Candidates Spoke at January Dinner

Resized_Dinner_Attendees_Discuss_Candidates.jpgSD49 had a full house to hear from GOP Governor candidates.  Over 80 people came to hear from and talk to the GOP Governor candidates on Tuesday evening, January 23. The program allowed each of the candidates or their representative to talk for several minutes. Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson led the evening off, followed by MN Representative Matt Dean, former MN GOP Chair Keith Down, and educator and Naval Reserve officer Phillip Parrish. Maple Grove mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens was unable to attend due to a commitment in Duluth, but she was representated by Gregg Peppin.

Resized_Time_with_Candidates.jpgThe program was not a debate forum. After the candidate remarks, attendees were able to approach each of the speakers and engage them directly. The format of the evening allowed more interaction, and everyone that had a question or point to make had an opportunity to do so.

On January 25, Representative Matt Dean formally withdrew as a candidate for governor. We will be posting videos of the speeches of the other candidates in future newsletters.

The candidates are trusting us to "do our homework" before the Caucus. They'll continue to meet with voters around the state.  Each has a website with biographical information, issue positions, and planned events, as well as ways to contact them. In alphabetic order:

Keith Downey

Jeff Johnson

Phillip Parrish

Mary Giuliani Stephens

Year in Review - Active 2017 Built a Stronger SD49

Eagle_FB_Logo.jpg2017 was a year of accomplishments and close calls.  For what is typically considered an “off-year,” the pace of activity stayed high.

We want to thank many of you who have served as leaders in our senate district and in our precincts.  It is your party leadership that we depend on to reach out to fellow Republicans and encourage them to vote for our candidates.  Thanks also to those of you who have come out to support our fundraisers, our dinner programs, our picnic, and our parade teams.   It is your participation that grows our reputation as one of the most dynamic senate districts in the state. 

If we remain true to each other and build on what we have, we will make a difference in 2018.

Continue reading to see 2017 highlights.

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Holiday Party Celebrated Success, Introduced 2018 Candidates

Edited_Nancy_Carlson_Mary_Doughty_Beth_Beebe.jpgSenate District 49 celebrated a memorable 2017 on Tuesday evening, December 12, with close to 70 long-time members and new participants. 

The attendees enjoyed a wide variety of appetizers, sweets, and beverages donated by the Executive Committee members.  Nancy Carlson and Beth Beebe led the organization of the evening and ensured that all of the Executive Committee members stood out with red bowties or holiday aprons.

Jim_Newberger_edited_small.jpgWe were fortunate to have several prominent guests stop by.  Jim Newberger, candidate for U.S. Senate, remarked on his campaign to unseat Amy Klobuchar.  Mary Giuliani Stephans, mayor of Woodbury and candidate for MN Governor, expressed her excitement of running to replace Mark Dayton.  Anna Peterson and Bobby Benson, volunteers on Matt Dean’s campaign for MN Governor, also urged attendees to get involved in the 2018 effort to elect a Republican governor.  Jeanne Anselmo spoke of MN HD49A Representative Dairo Anselmo’s dedication to serving as our voice. Rick Rice, MN GOP National Committeeman also spoke for a few minutes. 

Festive_Tables_and_crowd.jpgThe Holiday Party afforded our attendees a good opportunity to meet and talk with these candidates and party officials.

Mike_Lehmann_and_Noah_Harber.jpgNoah Harber was recognized by Patti Meier, Chair of Congressional District 3 (CD3) and Barbara Sutter, MN GOP Secretary.  Noah had been named as CD3’s Volunteer of the Year at State Central on December 2. 

Several volunteers provided a lot of support behind the scenes.  Our thanks to Dar Gray, Patti Brestrup, John Ward, Mary Doughty, Kim D’Aoia, Mike Lehmann, Bill Holm, and many others for their work in maintaining a seamless operation.

Carol Kerr donated 10 poinsettia centerpieces arranged by Nancy Carlson.  Kathy Frey expertly marketed them to the holiday crowd, ensuring that they all had good homes and the senate district additional donations.

See more Holiday Party photos on our Facebook page - Click Here

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