An animated and friendly group of Republicans filled our room at Poor Richards Commonhouse in Bloomington on Monday evening, January 14 for our first "Pints & Politics" of 2019. Between 45 to 50 attendees enjoyed lively "let's talk politics" conversations with friends both old and newly-met.
In addition to people from our two hosting Senate Districts (49 and 50), we were joined by some from South Minneapolis, Representative Greg Boe (47B) from Chaska (commuting and stopped in), and some from the suburbs south, west, and north of us. Don Johnson brought extra-special guests, his daughters, who appreciated the chance to meet current members and share memories of their late Mom, Donna, with folks from SD49 who had volunteered with her.
Mark your calendars to join (or rejoin) in the fun next month, February 11, 5 - 7:30, Poor Richards Commonhouse 8301 Normandale Blvd. Bloomington, MN 55437
Are you concerned about the direction that your city or your local school district is going? Do you have questions about how your property taxes are being spent, and are not getting answers? Or do you like the community you live in and want to help sustain its values?
Our communities will be holding city council (Bloomington, Minnetonka), mayor (Bloomington) and school board elections this fall. If you are willing to step up and help lead your local government, seriously consider your options over the next few weeks. To be successful, you will need to recruit a small but dedicated team, put a campaign plan and budget together, and consider raising some money.
These races are generally nonpartisan, but we may be able to help you get started. Contact us and we’ll talk.
In this article, we will cover the local City Council races. We will cover the School Board races in the January 28 newsletter.
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Our December 4 Newsletter carried an article noting that the SD49 Convention this February will include the election of the SD49 Executive Officers. Ten of the 15 executive officers are Vice Chairs, five from House District 49A and five from House District 49B.
Senate District 49 has been one of the leading local Republican organization in Minnesota. It takes committed leadership not only from the two SD49 Co-Chairs but also from each of the ten Vice Chairs to sustain that performance. Each takes on specific responsibilities to keep our dynamic organization functioning effectively.
In seeking candidates for Vice Chairs, we are looking for Republicans willing to lead one or more of the following efforts within our senate district:
• Outreach to new members
• Program development
• Event organization (dinners, picnics, parades, etc.)
• Convention and Caucus planning
• Social media
• Precinct organization
• Candidate search
• Volunteer recruitment and coordination
• Database management
• Researching and writing articles for the newsletter and website
So, if you are interested in serving as an executive officer or have any questions about serving, please let us know. You need to be a Republican and live within the boundaries of Senate District 49. Contact Mike Lehmann at email@example.com or 612-839-0761. Mike will schedule you for an interview as part of our search process. Interviews are starting the end of January.
A month after the 2018 elections, four re-elected Minnesota Republican legislators broke from House Republican Caucus to form the New House Republican Caucus. Republican state Reps. Cal Bahr of East Bethel, Steve Drazkowski of Mazeppa, Tim Miller of Prinsburg and Jeremy Munson of Lake Crystal said they made the break for a number of reasons. As stated in an article in the December 11, 2018 edition of the Twin Cities Pioneer Press, the move was not based on a split over issues, but rather over the way caucus leaders interact with members.
Max Rymer, the host of the Republican Roundtable in Minnesota, interviewed two of the founders of the New House Republican Caucus earlier this month. The interview with Cal Bahr and Steve Drazkowski was recorded and is available on YouTube
Earlier this month, the 2019 legislative session began and Republicans in the House and Senate rolled out their session priorities.
Senate leaders shared their plans to address our state's mental health crisis, reduce regulations harming our state's child care system, decrease the cost of health care while increase choices, simplify our confusing and out of compliance tax system, and eliminate the rampant fraud, waste, and abuse we are seeing on a nearly daily basis.
In the House, Republicans are ready to continue to fight for Minnesotans and their successful policies from the last four years that have led to lower unemployment, investments in our state's infrastructure and an incredible $1.5 billion surplus after years of Republican restraint and responsible spending.
For the first time, the Edina School Board created a Legislative Action Committee (LAC). Because most funding, educational mandates, and guidelines come from State government, the Edina School Board wanted to be able to give our elected officials their priorities for the next legislative session. A committee of 9, headed by board members Ellen Jones and Owen Michaelson helped identify their priorities.
On Monday January 7, the LAC presented their priorities to our elected officials, Senator Melisa Franzen, Representative Heather Edelson, and Representative Steve Elkins. Here are the major concerns:
1. Stabilize Education Funding
2. Increase State Funding for Mandated Special Education Programs
3. Reduce Mandates and Increase Local Control, in Order to Raise the Achievement Level of All Students
4. Ensure Safe and Modern School Facilities
5. Increase and Diversify the Teacher Workforce
These are all comparably important. Details about each priority are below. Here is one example of why these issues are important to our schools: Spending on Special Education is one area that is mandated by both the federal and state governments, but is only partially funded. In 2017 this shortfall in Minnesota was $617.0 million. It is called a cross-subsidy because $617.0 million had to be taken from the budgets of regular programs (teachers, classes, etc.) and spent on special education. The Board's message was that this isn’t right and the legislature needs to fund what it mandates.
Our legislators listened and said they would try to work on these priorities. However, in their 2019 session they will be faced with many issues that need funding and may compromise on competing needs. Citizens may contact these elected officials individually to support funding for school priorities.Read more
On November 14, 2018 the Federal Transit Authority granted another “Letter of No Prejudice” to the Metropolitan Council, a necessary milestone which allows the early construction work for the SOUTHWEST LIGHT RAIL TRANSIT (SWLRT) project to proceed. It accomplishes this by making the (partial) early work eligible for federal reimbursement once the Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) is approved, which is expected (but not guaranteed) in 2019. Under the FFGA, the federal government would pay $929 million of the project’s currently projected cost of $2.003 billion. Per the Met Council, the new projected in-service date is 2023.
Here is a little history of the project, going back 31 years:
• 1988 – The Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority (HCRRA) identifies a “transitway” from Hopkins to Minneapolis as a future light rail corridor.
• 2003 - HCRRA’s Southwest Rail Transit Study identifies a dozen possible routes; four make the final cut for further detailed study.
• May 2010 – The Metropolitan Council votes approval of Hennepin County’s preferred route and control of the project is transferred to the (unelected) Met Council, with an expected in-service date of 2018 at a build-out cost of $1.6 billion.
• 2010-2014 – Many challenges by people, neighborhoods, and businesses directly affected by the proposed route delay the project.
• April 2015 – New cost estimates show an increased project build-out cost of $1.99 billion and an in-service date delayed to 2020.
We are now awaiting two key decisions regarding the unionization of Minnesota Personal Care Assistants (PCAs).
The first is from the Minnesota Court of Appeals on our appeal of the dismissal by the Minnesota Bureau of Mediation Services (BMS) of our 2017 decertification election petition. The second decision is by the BMS on our 2018 petition seeking a new vote by the PCAs on whether or not to unionize. This latest petition was submitted with more than 13,000 election requests from PCAs.
We expect that the BMS will confirm that they are dismissing our petition again, just as they did before. However, after the oral argument on December 13, 2018 at the Court of Appeals, we are very hopeful that the Court will reverse the BMS and direct them to take steps to grant us our PCA election.
Meanwhile, we are opposing the State’s appeal of Ramsey County District Court Judge Awsumb’s decision in our favor on getting the PCA lists and awarding us attorneys’ fees against the State, for a third path to victory.Read more
Looking back over the last twelve months, we have had some disappointments. Yet it has also has been a time of growth, a lot of volunteer effort, and accomplishments.
The November election results were clearly a disappointment. DFL candidates won all of the MN House seats in Bloomington, Eden Prairie, Edina, and Minnetonka. In Congressional District 3 (CD 3), we had a high voter turnout for a non-presidential year. Unfortunately, we were not able to retain the Republican votes that we garnered in 2016.
Thanks to Jim Bowen and several dedicated volunteers, we were recognized for our Get-Out-The-Vote efforts in CD 3, and CD 3 had the strongest GOTV results in the state. We had volunteers who knocked on doors, made phone calls, and installed and removed lawn signs. Credit also goes to Trish Burnison, who took on the challenge of stuffing over 2,500 lit bags. Our volunteers made perhaps our strongest contribution ever to the campaign work of the local and statewide candidates. Yet the DFL effort was even stronger. The party that works hard at personal outreach clearly has the advantage. It is one of the areas of improvement ahead of us.
Our senate district put on a number of educational, social, and fundraising events this year.Read more
In early October, the Minnesota Department of Commerce released final rates for the 2019 individual insurance market, revealing that for the second consecutive year, Republican-led reforms have helped reduce individual market health insurance rates after years of double-digit increases following the implementation of Obamacare in Minnesota.
All five of the carriers on the individual market lowered premiums for 2019, with average rates dropping between 7.4 percent and 27.7 percent.
Practically speaking, what does this mean? A 61-year-old from the Twin Cities could save $4,296 next year as a result of Republican reforms compared to what they were paying two years ago.
From 2014-2017, average rates increased by double digits every year, including up to 67 percent for 2017. Thanks to Republican reforms enacted in 2017, individual market rates for 2018 remained flat or were reduced for most Minnesotans on the individual market.
The nationally recognized, Republican-led reforms were supported by just one Democrat in the Minnesota House. Governor Dayton refused to sign the measure, opting to let it become law without his signature.