A bill to prohibit the adoption or enforcement of Ranked-Choice Voting for local offices within Minnesota cities, counties, townships and school districts has been introduced this legislative session by Sen. Mark Koran (R, North Branch). Testimony on Senate File 708 was heard Wednesday evening, March 10, in a Zoom meeting of the State Government Finance & Policy & Elections Committee chaired by Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer (R, Big Lake).
Senate District 50 Republicans Co-Chair Kathy Kranz was asked to testify on the bill. Kathy was one of the principal organizers of the opposition to the RCV ballot initiative that passed by a very small margin in Bloomington in 2020.
Kranz told the committee that last year, the Bloomington City Council was lobbied by an outside group to essentially ignore the Charter Commission’s rejection of Ranked Choice Voting. The Charter Commission, the protector of Bloomington’s city charter, was dismissed as advisory only. Concerned residents opposed to RCV were given just 90 days before the November 2020 vote to refute the unproven assertions of a large pro-RCV national foundation and billionaires. The outside proponents spent about $130,000 vs. the $6,000 spent by residents. Fairvote Minnesota provided $126,670 of that $130,000, coming mainly via Fairvote National and the John Arnold Foundation.
“It’s hard as a resident group to mount a local campaign to counter the false assertions of the local arm of a well-funded national advocacy group,” Kathy Kranz argued. As a 501 c(4), they don’t have to provide financial details on their primary donors for over three years. “Isn’t it interesting that about 97% of the money spent in Bloomington did not originate in Bloomington?”Read more
The Minnesota Voters Alliance (MVA) has recently highlighted that the League of Minnesota Cities (LMC) wants to eliminate statutory party balance requirements for election judges. As the self-described purveyor of the “only comprehensive statewide advocacy agenda for all Minnesota cities,” the LMC has as its goal to, in the words of the MVA, “strengthen the grasp of local government around the necks of its citizens.”
In the League of Minnesota Cities: 2021 City Policies, the LMC opposes legislation that “creates an automatic cause of action for damages any time a local regulatory action impacts the use or reduces the value of private property.” It wants to lower “the threshold for requiring voter approval for issuance of improvement bonds,” which would essentially make it easier to bypass voters to take on debt.
In promoting “sufficient authority and flexibility” for local government, the LMC expresses prioritizes government power over individual freedom.
The MVA is concerned that perhaps the most subversive part of the LMC agenda involves Minnesota elections, including voting rights for felons, universal mail-in voting, and restricting access to public voting data.Read more
Almost 100,000 Minnesotans were issued Permits to Carry in 2020, a record since the Personal Protection Act was signed into law in 2003.
The total number of valid Permits to Carry in Minnesota is up to more than 358,000 as of March 1, 2021, according to the MN Department of Public Safety. That is more than 8% of the Minnesota population above 18 years of age (note that eligibility for a Permit to Carry starts at age 21, so the percentage of the eligible population actually holding a carry permit is likely even higher). Nearly 1 in 10 Minnesotans 21 years or older are permitted to carry a firearm in the state. Compare that to a grand total of 79 firearm homicides in Minnesota in 2019, according to the FBI.
It is unsurprising that a record number of law-abiding citizens (particularly in Hennepin County) are taking steps to protect themselves in light of increasing violence in specific metropolitan areas over the past year, which has naturally led to a dramatic decline in police response times. Minneapolis had 82 homicides in 2020, a more than 70% increase compared to 2019, while gunshot wound victims more than doubled to 551. Robberies also increased almost 50% year-over-year per the city of Minneapolis Community Safety Update.
2021 has already seen the DFL resurrect previous failed gun control measures that will adversely affect law-abiding, responsible gun owners (HF 694 "Universal Background Checks / Registry" and SF 1431 "Red Flag Orders"). Carry permit-holders, for example, are an extremely law-abiding group (it should be obvious that criminals do not typically apply for firearm permits in-person at local law enforcement agencies), with less than 1/10th of 1 percent of all permit holders being associated with an actual crime involving a firearm.
Call to Action: Tell Senator Franzen ([email protected]), Representative Elkins ([email protected]), and DFL Senate Minority Leader Ron Latz (651-297-8065) to stop wasting time on initiatives that will only burden law-abiding citizens' ability to exercise their constitutional rights. They should focus instead on enforcing current laws and targeting actual criminals in Minneapolis if they want to productively address gun violence.
After nearly a decade of creating expensive technological failures (MNSure, MNLars, and E-Pulltabs to name three), the state of Minnesota announced Feb 18 it had created an online portal to manage the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“When asked for comment, the entire population of Minnesota sighed in dismay,” a MN GOP press release observed only half-jokingly at the time.
What’s since come to light is the news that an outside firm with deep DFL ties developed and manages the site. Just who is involved was initially noted in a quiet early February Twitter post by MPR reporter Catherine Richart and subsequently highlighted March 10 by Alpha News.
Using his emergency powers, i.e., not standard bidding practices, Governor Walz hired a NY firm, Vault Health, which hired Dan Feehan, a 2-time DFL candidate for MN Congressional District 1. Feehan’s campaign manager and Walz’s former deputy chief of staff were also hired by Vault Health.
The state currently has a confusing array of ways to seek vaccinations. Registration with the State is NOT required for a person to be eligible to receive the vaccine. However, the State is running two parallel registration processes: a “lottery” for vaccinations at a state-run COVID-19 Community Vaccination Program site (Minneapolis, Duluth, Rochester, or Eagan) and a “Vaccine Connector” which attempts to offer information about nearby options at approximately 712 clinics, pharmacies, hospitals and public health offices based on an individual’s age and location. The “Vaccine Connector” also asks intrusive personal questions as noted in our earlier article.
Pharmacies and clinics are now independently reaching out to their own patients based on age and health conditions. These sites report numbers of vaccinations completed, and those are included in the MN Dept of Health’s vaccination statistics.
It’s unclear from those statistics how many “State lottery” vaccinations have been administered. MN totals from all providers as of March 13: 1,240,140 people have received at least 1 dose of vaccine and 724,692 have completed their vaccination series.Read more
he Bloomington City Council this week will continue discussing two important issues that affect everyone.
Urbanization and Spending During COVID times –
The City Council just had what they call a “retreat” during which the City Manager brought up 6 projects that had been put on the backburner. Funding the projects could possibly require a “local option sales tax” – on top of our increased property taxes.
These projects are:
1) Bloomington Ice Garden - $25 Million
2) The Community Center - $75 Million
3) River Bottoms Project
4) A new Public Health Building
5) Center for the Arts Expansion
6) Parks and Rec Improvements
They would also require state bonding of about $125 million to cover the Ice Garden and the new Community Center. Residents may have no say in state bonding bills, but they will have to “buy-in” to a local sales tax.
The City Manager commented that funding of these projects could jeopardize Affordable Housing projects because there is not enough money in the City’s Housing Trust Fund to pay for all their housing projects. Included in the discussion of affordable housing and low-income housing projects was the topic of extended use of hotels for homeless shelters.
A March 8 presentation by the Bloomington Housing and Rehabilitation Authority to the City Council touched on affordable, subsidized, and rent-free building in Bloomington. Without clarification and quantification on the number of actual Bloomington residents in need, the Met Council has recommended that Bloomington entertain building up to roughly 5000 affordable units by 2030. This urbanization will admittedly reduce open space, storage options, size of parking space and increase building sizes based on builder incentives within the Opportunity Housing Ordinance. Qualifying levels preferred by the City are from 30% to 50% of the Area Median Income (AMI). AMI is the midpoint of a region’s income distribution, where half of the families in a region earn more than the median and half earn less than the median.Read more
Bloomington voters will cast their ballots for three (3) city council seats and four (4) school board seats this November. It is still early in the election cycle, but some candidates are already declaring.
Nathan Coulter, the incumbent in one of the two At-Large seats, has announced that he will be running for re-election. Coulter is the Legislative Assistant for State Senator Melissa Wiklund (DFL, Richfield).
We are aware that Paul King and Ric Oliva will challenge Coulter. Paul King is the principle at the James King Insurance agency and a fund-raiser for community causes. Ric Oliva has announced his candidacy. Oliva is a database administrator for Wings Credit Union, executive director of the Three Rivers Music Academy, and a former Bloomington School Board chair.
Jack Baloga is the incumbent city coucil member for Bloomington’s Ward 3. Baloga has not announced his intention to run for re-election. Kevin Heinen, a long-time Bloomington resident and 2015 candidate for a Bloomington At-Large seat, will run for the Ward 3 seat.
Patrick Martin is the incumbent city council member for Bloomington’s Ward 4. We are not aware that Martin has announced a decision on running again. We understand that Victor Rivas has committed to enter the Ward 4 race. We will be seeking more information on Rivas for future publication.
The School Board terms for Beth Beebe, Tom Bennett, Jim Sorum, and Dawn Steigauf complete at the end of this year. Beth Beebe plans to pursue a second term. We have not heard the plans of other members. Nor have we heard of other Bloomington residents who have made the commitment to run for a new four-year term.
Minnesota's February Budget forecast was released Feb 26 by Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) showing a $1.6 billion surplus for the 2022-2023 biennium. This is a significant improvement from the $1.3 billion deficit that was projected in December.
The surplus was driven primarily by a $456 million decrease in state spending on education and health care, and $1.423 billion greater-than-expected from tax collections. The forecast does not include any of significant federal funding expected to be passed by Congress in the coming weeks.
House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) issued the following statement: “Minnesota’s economy is bouncing back, and will continue growing if we let it. Unfortunately, Democrats will continue pushing for completely unnecessary tax hikes that would hurt struggling businesses and families. Raising taxes will slow our economic comeback, and make it harder to bring back jobs and paychecks to where they were before the pandemic. We know the Governor’s tax hikes will not become law this year, and we can save ourselves weeks of headaches if the Governor and Democrats acknowledge that now. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and work together to pass a responsible budget without raising taxes.”
Rep. Anne Neu Brindley (R-Chisago County) and Rep Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington) held a news conference to react to the budget news, and provide a prebuttal to the Gov. Walz/MMB news conference. You can watch a replay of that news conference as a Facebook video.
News reports indicated that Governor Walz will push ahead with tax increases.
Minnesota government has all the money it needs. With a $1.6 billion surplus and a budget reserve of more than $2 billion, there's no reason for Gov. Walz and Democrats to continue pushing harmful tax hikes. This surplus ensures that we can take additional steps to help families and businesses who are still hurting from the shutdowns over the past year, including exempting PPP loans from state taxes.
Tens of millions of voters across the country are concerned about irregularities with the 2020 electoral process, while Democrats tell them to move along and accept the results - "nothing to see here."
A recent article in Time magazine comes to a different conclusion. It claims that during 2020 there “was a conspiracy unfolding behind the scenes...the result of an informal alliance between left-wing activists and business titans" to influence the outcome of the election. This "handshake between business and labor [was] just one component of a vast, cross-partisan campaign..." The Time article posits that people in positions of power and influence engineered the outcome of an election in order to reach a desired goal.
The article also reveals that a "well-funded cabal of powerful people, ranging across industries and ideologies, working together behind the scenes to influence perceptions, change rules and laws, steer media coverage and control the flow of information." Last-minute election rule changes made unilaterally by judicial and executive branches (rightfully the domain and responsibility of state legislatures) have led to doubts and concerns for tens of millions of Americans across the country.
If some of the outstanding concerns regarding the 2020 election weren't troubling enough, Democrats at the national and state levels are currently working to permanently remove electoral safeguards and transparency from the voting process.Read more
Senate District 49 held its 2021 convention on Saturday, February 20, as a remote meeting. Eighty-three (83) delegates and alternates registered, and 72 signed-in to participate. All who participated were able to vote during the convention.
Co-Chair Russ Burnison convened the convention shortly after 10 am. Louis Tiggas (pictued at left) once again chaired the meeting and kept the proceedings on track through its completion just after 1 pm.
Doug Wardlow joined the convention by video. He has officially declared as a Republican candidate to run against Keith Ellison for MN Attorney General in 2022. Sen. Mark Koran, candidate for MNGOP Chair, also appeared via Zoom. Joel Quinnell spoke on behalf of the current MNGOP Chair, Jennifer Carnahan, who is running for re-election.
Key business at the convention was the election of the SD49 Executive Committee officers and State Central Committee delegates and alternates. Congratulations to:
• Russ Burnison and Joel Quinnell (Co-chairs)
• Louis Tiggas (Treasurer)
• Leah Hollenbeck (Secretary)
• Randy Sutter (Communications Chair)
• Louis Dennard, Lynn Hovde, Dennis Hogan, Anna Lima, and Sarah Patzloff (HD49A Vice Chairs)
• Jim Bowen (pictured at right), Steve Curry, Lane Hersey, Julia Tate, and Pam Tucholke (HD49B Vice Chairs)
• Russ Burnison, Louis Dennard, Joel Quinnell, and Randy Sutter (State Central Delegates)
• Michael Barg, Carol Brumwell, Molly Cronin, Larry Frost, Carol Kerr, John Metil, Marty Probst, Vince Riehm, Shirley Schaff, Louis Tiggas, and Wayne Wenger (State Central Alternates)
The Walz administration’s roll out of a COVID-19 vaccine availability tracking website crashed on its first day. Minnesota senior citizens are still confused as to where to go to get vaccine injections. Now, the Department of Health wants to improve their ability to target Minnesotans by asking irrelevant and invasive questions.
Sen. Karin Housley (R-Stillwater), pictured at left, chaired a meeting of the Senate Aging and Long-Term Care Policy Committee on February 24 to ask Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm about those questions. As reported by AlphaNews, a state-issued vaccine sign-up form asks such questions as “employer, job title, race and ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation, first language, physical and emotional condition, and type of residence”, all before requesting age.
Sen. Carrie Ruud (R-Breezy Point) asked, “Why do you need to know the gender and sexual preferences of seniors to give them a vaccine?” Housley also pointed out that the form requires the user to agree that the information they provide may become public data.
Malcolm claimed that the Department of Health has made “tremendous strides in immunizing in long-term care settings and now in community settings.” Sen. Housley replied that “the program has been chaotic and ever-changing from the beginning.”