This Week in the Legislature: DFL Budget Increases Taxes by $12B

Tax_increases_cartoon1.jpgDemocrats in the Minnesota House have brought their tax bill to the floor. Across the entirety of their budget bills, Democrats are raising taxes by more than $12 billion over the next four years.

$12 billion in additional taxes over the next four years? On top of a $1 billion surplus (projected revenue over previously approved expenditures)?

The DFL legislators in the House are asking us to believe that the state government needs to take in 14% more than it required to operate over the last four years.

Even Governor Walz's own administration confirmed that low and middle-income Minnesotans will be hit hardest by Democrats' massive tax increases.

Starting this week, the ten major spending bills and policy plans will be taken up by conference committees that are tasked with resolving differences between the House and the Senate. (We've highlighted in a separate article an especially controversial policy that's included in the Omnibus Education Bill.) As Minnesota taxpayers, you should contact your representatives to make clear that you do not support these excessive tax increases. To see the names and addresses for SD49’s MN legislators, CLICK HERE

 

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Edina Students Sought for City Boards and Commissions

Edina_School_For_Student_City_Board_openings.jpgEdina’s Boards and Commissions ae seeking a diversity of perspective. Applications are due May 22. If you are a young conservative student, we feel you would bring a point of view that is particularly needed.

“It’s important to have student commissioners on our commissions,” said Community Engagement Coordinator MJ Lamon. “This opportunity is available to rising sophomores, juniors and seniors. You don’t need to be a topic expert for the commission of interest; it’s an opportunity to learn about government and how it operates.”

You also do not need to be a green activist or a member of the Edina High School Environmental Club. Applicants do need to be entering Grades 10-12 for the 2019-2020 school year and be enrolled in Edina High School or live in Edina to participate. Appointments are yearlong and begin Sept. 1. 

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Five Years On - Personal Care Assistants’ Forced Unionization

We have been following for some time the efforts of the Minnesota Personal Care Assistants (MNPCA) to overturn their unionization “by fiat” five years ago during the Dayton administration.

The MNPCA submitted a petition in 2017 to decertify the original union “election” conducted by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). The Minnesota Bureau of Mediation Services dismissed it even though the petition had more signatures than there were votes to unionize in the first place. The MNPCA took their case to the Minnesota Court of Appeals in 2018.

With the financial support of the Americans for Lawful Unionism (ALU), the MNPCA has circulated two more petitions, both asking that the original union election be decertified and a new vote be conducted. Despite compiling signed cards from over 13,000 PCAs, the Minnesota Bureau of Mediation Services has dismissed these petitions and refused to take any action.

In a supporting action, the MNPCA requested the official listing of PCAs in Minnesota. The Dayton administration refused to release it. The MNPCA sued and secured a ruling from Ramsey County District Court Judge Awsumb directing the state to comply with the request. The state has appealed.

Doug_Seaton___.jpgWe are proud to recognize Doug Seaton (at right) as one of the principals on the legal team from the law firm of Seaton, Peters & Revnew that has worked hard on the petition filings and the court cases and appeals.

The law firm has also challenged the SEIU practice of skimming its dues from state payments to Personal Care Assistants. The firm’s work has played a key role in securing the Federal Rule banning the dues skimming from PCA and child care Medicaid payments, likely to be issued soon as a final rule.

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SD49 Business Owner on Pres. Trump’s Roundtable

Bonvino___Cooney2.jpgPresident Trump came to Burnsville on April 15 to hear how the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, passed and signed in December 2017, has impacted business. A featured speaker at that roundtable was Edina business owner Chris Bonvino, pictured here with Ross Cooney, one of his staff members. You can hear his remarks by CLICKING HERE, starting at the -1:39 mark.

The roundtable was attended by over 300 legislators, Republican state party officials, supporters, and members of the media. Hosted by the Nuss Truck & Equipment Co. in their Burnsville facility, the number of attendees was limited.

Barbara Sutter, MN GOP Secretary, was struck by the personal care President Trump took to listen to each speaker and to look into the audience to gauge individual responses. “He rarely glanced at his script. He was genuine in his comments.”

Bonvino___Cooney_w_Trump_(2).jpgNoah Harber was able to secure a ticket due to the work that he did as a volunteer for the Republican National Committee and Senate District 49 during the 2018 campaign. “It was surreal to see [President] Trump practically in my backyard just minutes from where I live and work. The Trump team must think Minnesota is in play in 2020, which is exciting to think about how that could affect our local elections.”

A large number of supporters lined a street nearby to greet the president’s motorcade as it arrived and departed.

 


Primaries and Caucuses -- Lessons from North Carolina

Voting_Day.jpgMinnesota 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.

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Actions in the MN House: CCAP Fraud, Cuts to Nursing Homes, Paid Family Leave

One_Minnesota.jpg• 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.

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Right Tech Gearing Up to Create Digital Campaign Tools

Lisa_Scneegans.jpgAs 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!

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This Week in the MN House: Walz's Budget, No Health Action

 

One_Expensive_Minnesota.jpg• 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.

Yes, elections have consequences. Tell SD49’s State Legislators where you stand on these issues. CLICK HERE to see their contact information on our website.

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Child Care Fraud Could be Almost Half of Program Budget

Fraud.jpgOn 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.

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This Week in the MN House: Energy, Child Care Fraud, Taxes, Health

One_Expensive_Minnesota.jpg• 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.

US_hundreds__in_suitcase_pexels-photo-259027.jpeg• 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.

Yes, elections have consequences. Tell SD49’s State Legislators where you stand on these issues. CLICK HERE to see their contact information on our website.



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