As the 2018 political campaigns progressed, Lisa and Klaus Schneegans became increasingly aware of the technological advantage DFL candidates had. From raising funds to finding volunteers and reaching potential voters, good Republican candidates were not utilizing the array of digital campaign tools that the Democrats had in their arsenal.
After the 2018 election in MN, their analysis found that voting by the 18-29 age group had increased by more than 20% (from 23% turnout in 2014 to almost 44% in 2018). And polls showed 62% of voters in that age group favor Democrats. Clearly MN voters under 30 heard effective messages. But how?
WIRED magazine wrote about this development immediately prior to last November's election. "A startup called Tuesday Company is working on 70 races in collaboration with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Its app, Team, lets volunteers see which of their friends a campaign wants to reach. Users upload their contact lists, and campaigns compare those lists to their own voter files. Then, users can send personalized text messages to the people selected by the campaign."
The Schneegans soon determined that those tools were simply not available to Republicans. Since 2016, Democratic donors and Silicon Valley supports were spending millions of dollars to develop digital applications specifically for left-leaning candidates from presidential contenders down to local office seekers. Early in 2019, Lisa and Klaus Schneegans founded Right Tech here in Minnesota to address this imbalance.
As part of Senate District 49’s monthly program series, Lisa Schneegans examined why so many compelling Republican candidates were defeated by very similar margins across the Twin Cities metropolitan area. While they were significantly outspent, more importantly, they were likely working at a technological disadvantage. With the assistance of her husband, Klaus, Lisa made clear that the on-line tools and digital techniques employed in DFL political campaigns are rapidly growing, and Republicans are not keeping up.
Minnesota Republicans were not alone. Nationwide, Republicans lost 300 state house seats in 2018. Lisa provided graphical evidence that application of the array of tools by the Democrats correlated closely with strong turnout by their supporters in campaign rallies and by their voters in the election. The tools are clearly working!Read more
Minnesota is moving its presidential primary up to occur early in March of presidential election years. Party caucuses will occur only about a week ahead of the primary, rather than several months. No longer will caucuses be able to attract casual Republicans with the opportunity to vote on a weeknight evening in non-binding straw polls, since the primary vote that counts will take place in day-long polling on the presidential primary day.
What impact might that have on attracting new members to become engaged with Minnesota Republican Party operations? We reached out to Greg and Lisa Beam, who were active members of the SD49 Republican community before moving to North Carolina. North Carolina also conducts its presidential primary in March. We asked Greg to describe how the North Carolina Republican party conducts its primary and elects its convention delegates.
North Carolina’s experience with the impact of presidential primaries on party meetings appears to have adjusted expectations for turnout at meetings like caucuses and conventions. In turn, North Carolina’s party meetings and conventions are more informal and require less upfront preparation, although each county is unique in terms of participation or enthusiasm. At the same time, grassroots engagement and participation are particular challenges.Read more
• At the end of March, House Republicans unveiled a comprehensive bill to combat fraud in Minnesota's childcare assistance program. The Star Tribune hailed the bill as "a sweeping crackdown on illegal overbilling … House Republicans [have] proposed nearly 50 changes in state law intended to combat fraud in the Child Care Assistance Program following revelations that the program lacks adequate controls to prevent fraudulent providers from overbilling for millions of dollars."
o The Republican bill increases consequences for committing fraud, enhances provider controls to improve program integrity, gives investigators and prosecutors additional tools to find and prosecute fraud, makes reforms to eligibility across CCAP and other public programs, and improves oversight by making the Office of Inspector General an independent entity—a recommendation from the Legislative Auditor.
• DFL Health & Human Services bill aims to raise health care costs, cut nursing homes
o The bill includes an extension of the provider tax that will increase the cost of health care by $1 billion over the next two years, and includes changes to nursing home reimbursement rates that result in cuts to about half of Minnesota's nursing facilities.
o The bill also fails to extend Minnesota's reinsurance program, which could cause premium rates to skyrocket next year.
• Paid Family Leave (HF5) will require nearly 400 new government employees, and more than $1.5 billion in tax increases on every employee and employer in the state.Read more
• The DFL are rolling out their 2020-2021 budget targets. They will be discussing the budget resolution following floor session in the Ways & Means Committee
• On Monday, Rep. Mary Franson (R- Alexandria) unveiled House Republicans' plan to combat fraud in the CCAP system.
• Fiscal note delays caused the deferral of three DFL top-10 bills to next Tuesday in the Jobs Committee. The bills: HF5 (Paid Family Leave), HF6 (Wage Theft), HF11 (Sick and Safe Time)
• After two months of work, Democrats have passed no bills to address the cost of health care, and continue to block procedural motions to bring a reinsurance bill to the floor. See below to read our "primer" on why reinsurance is the better option.
On March 13, the Legislative Auditor released a long-awaited report on fraud in the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP). While the report could not corroborate the $100 million fraud figure, or a direct link between the CCAP program and funds going to terrorism, the report did indeed confirm that fraud is pervasive within the system.
Minnesota Legislative Auditor James Nobles testified before the State Senate Human Services Committee, saying, "There is a big problem and state fraud investigators believe it could be as much as $108 million.” He stated that the estimate is based on what 14 investigators, all of whom work for the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS), individually reported under oath.
Nobles told lawmakers the investigators testified that there are more than 100 child daycare centers that are either outright committing fraud or are not delivering adequate daycare services.
DHS said there are 4,953 Minnesota daycare centers that qualify for the CCAP program and the total cost of the program for the fiscal year 2018 was $254 million.Read more
• On Tuesday in the Energy and Climate Division, Governor Walz's 100% renewable bill (HF1956) will receive its first hearing.
o Gov. Walz’s plan will require 100% renewable energy by the year 2050. Rep. Chris Swedzinski (R-Ghent) responded to the plan, pointing out that while Republicans don't oppose renewable energy, they oppose mandating the elimination of other means of energy generation by a certain date. Given the technology that we have today, this proposal would cause energy bills to skyrocket and would threaten the reliability of our energy grid, which is critical during polar vortexes and other cold snaps.
• The Legislative Auditor will release their long-awaited report on Childcare Assistance Program (CCAP) Fraud on Wednesday at 9AM. Expect a House Republican press conference shortly after the release of the report, and the report will be discussed at the Senate Human Services Reform Committee meeting at 3:30PM.
o Last week, Rep. Josh Heintzeman (R-Nisswa) highlighted outrageous language in a bill submitted by Rep. Carlie Kotyza-Witthuhn (DFL-Eden Prairie) that would allow people who have admitted to giving counties false information, false attendance reports, or refused to provide attendance records the opportunity have an extra review at taxpayer expense.
• The Governor's tax bill (HF2125) will have its first hearing in Taxes on Tuesday.
• Rep. Tina Liebling (DFL-Rochester) and Gov. Walz's ONEcare (Health Insurance) bill (HF3) receives its next hearing in the Commerce Committee on Wednesday.
o Over the past week, Minnesota Management and Budget has released two separate fiscal notes for SF761, the Senate bill to extend reinsurance for three years. The fiscal notes confirm that reinsurance would "reduce premiums in the individual market in plan years 2020-2022," and premiums "could be as much as 20 percent lower due to the reinsurance program."
o Despite his own state agencies confirming that reinsurance works to bring down premium costs, Gov. Walz did not include a reinsurance extension in his budget. Instead, he is proposing a 20 percent premium rebate plan that would only help a portion of the individual market; cost the state more compared to reinsurance; and would do nothing to prevent premium prices from skyrocketing.
o The bill to extend reinsurance was heard in the House Commerce committee earlier this session, but remains stuck in Rep. Liebling's Health and Human Services Finance Division.
Many people are attracted to the voodoo economics of the New Left. They are attracted because they feel the effects of the stagnation of real wages over the last several decades. They feel they do not have the same opportunities as previous generations due to educational debt, wage stagnation, and housing unaffordability. The New Left is playing on those widespread fears and proposing solutions that will be economic disaster.
Representative Ilhan Omar (pictured, on the left) and over 30 other Democratic “Progressives” such as Rep. Ocasio-Cortez endorse the “Green New Deal.”
The Green New Deal includes:
1) 100 percent of U.S. power to come from renewable sources within 10 years
2) Rework of the U.S. energy grid to make it more efficient
3) Reduction or elimination of carbon emissions in the agriculture and manufacturing industries
4) Addressing climate change by eliminating pollution from air travel
5) Requiring all new and existing building to be more energy efficient
6) Health care for all
7) Universal basic income for all
Half of the Democratic Presidential candidates also endorse it. Sen Klobuchar (pictured above, right) has signed on as a co-sponsor , although in a CNN interview she said she considers it “aspirational”. Sen Smith didn’t respond to a request about her position on the Green New Deal.Read more
In 2002 and again in 2017, some ardent supporters of light rail pushed for a feasibility study of a line to run from Savage to St. Louis Park. Conveniently, the Dan Patch freight rail line runs over that exact same route. Despite spending $400,000 in 2002 and another $30,000 in 2017, local legislators and residents did not support the initiative.
In 2019, it is rising from the dead again.
MN House Rep. Hunter Cantrell (DFL-Savage), Steve Elkins (DFL-Bloomington), and Brad Tabke (DFL-Shakopee) have co-sponsored HF1783 to authorize a rail transitway feasibility study.
As we reported in our newsletter of July 31, 2017, the Dan Patch Line is an 80-year old single-track freight line that runs from Northfield to Savage. It crosses the Minnesota River into Bloomington and runs north along the east side of Hyland Park. It continues north through Edina to St Louis Park, staying west of Highway 100.
Freight traffic will continue on this single line, and will likely increase. To reduce costs from earlier estimates, any commuter trains would have to run on the same track, without an increase in right-of-way, over 14 same-grade road crossings, with unique cars that cannot operate on the other existing light rail tracks.
To read more background on why the Edina residents pictured above came out in 2017 in opposition to commuter light rail on that track, CLICK HERE.
Residents who live along the line or commute over any of those same-grade road crossings are urged to let their congressional members know of their concerns about the futility of authorizing another feasibility study.
Local governments are under increasing pressure to use their power of permitting to require developers to include less expensive housing in their building plans. In his talk on February 26 as part of Senate District 49’s dinner program series, Brad Aho noted that land, labor, and construction material costs are going up faster than the wages of many of the people who currently live in or would like to move to our area. Still, local and regional governing bodies are also a significant cause of increased housing costs in the Twin Cities area.
As an Eden Prairie City Council member for 14 years, Brad Aho has been in a unique place to watch his city develop. He presented comparison information about local communities' housing costs and incomes, showing there is a need for "affordable" housing in our suburbs. He also has a good sense of why housing costs have gone up. He noted that it costs more to build a house in the Twin Cities area than in a suburb of Chicago. A report commissioned by a builders group, recently cited in an article in the Star Tribune, found that an average home in Lake Elmo would cost $47,000 less in Hudson, Wisconsin.
Aho pointed to overlapping local and regional governments as a big part of the affordability problem that they are now trying to solve. Building regulations and fees are significant cost drivers. As much as 33% of the cost of building a new home here can be traced back to local, regional (e.g., watershed districts), and state policies and fees. Aho said that “municipal fees and regulations in the Twin Cities make it nearly impossible to build a single-family house for less than $375,000.”
Click here to see Brad's detailed presentation text.
Aho acknowledged that some fees cover the cost of construction inspectors who ensure local codes are enforced. However, the value to lower income homebuyers of fees such as “park dedication fees” are less clear.
IRS data from 2016:
• Top 1% of taxpayers (adjusted gross income of at least $480,804) paid 37.3% of all federal income taxes
• Highest 5% of taxpayers (adjusted gross income of at least $197,651) paid 58.2%
• Highest 10% of taxpayers (adjusted gross income of at least $139,713) paid 69.5%
• Bottom 50% of all filers paid 3% of the total federal income tax bill
o Does not include Social Security tax payments