Last Thursday, Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) released the February Budget and Economic Forecast showing a budget surplus of $1.5 billion. This is up from $1.3 billion in the November 2019 Forecast. Along with the $2.359 billion Budget Reserve, this adds up to a surplus of $3.859 billion plus a cash flow balance of $350 million.
This forecast is further proof that Minnesota’s economy remains in great shape. House and Senate GOP Leaders responded to the forecast later in the day. Republicans were united in the message that tax cuts need to be a top priority the remainder of the session. House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) said. "House and Senate Republicans are putting forward specific plans to deliver more than a billion dollars back to taxpayers including the elimination of the unfair tax on social security.”
AlphaNews noted Mike Bloomberg’s Feb. 25 debate gaff about his 2018 financial contributions to 21 Congressional races: “All of the new Democrats who came in, who put Nancy Pelosi in charge and gave the Congress the ability to control this presidency, I bought— I, I got them.”
One of those was our MN CD3 seat, turned over to Dean Phillips.
Republican candidate Kendall Qualls is actively campaigning to gain that seat in 2020
The Lyndale Avenue Retrofit project aims to transform Lyndale Avenue into a thriving, walkable, mixed-use corridor that serves as an amenity to attract and retain residents and businesses. Hennepin County is supporting the City of Bloomington to define a vision for the future of Lyndale Avenue in Bloomington. Partners want to hear from area businesses and residents about potential designs for this city-owned street.
Earlier events and open house sessions were held in January and February, and another series is planned for March 2 - 3.
Open Studio: Drop in for Open Studio to observe, ask questions, and engage with members of the Stantec design team as they work.
Monday March 2, noon-6 p.m.
Tuesday March 3, 9 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m.
Main event: Tuesday, March 3: Come share your input at a garden-themed interactive workshop, where you can "plant" ideas to make Lyndale Avenue more attractive and vibrant. Bring teens and children to enjoy activities designed just for them.
Open House: 5-8 p.m.
Presentations: 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.
800 West 98th Street (in Clover Center)
Bloomington, MN 55420
To learn more, visit the project website CLICK HERE.
The Bloomington City Council met on February 24 under new mayor Tim Busse and several new council members. Toward the end of this scheduled meeting, the council took up the subject of the Bloomington Community Center. A video recording of the ensuing discussion can be found on the city's website by CLICKING HERE, then scrolling down to “City Council Meetings” and selecting :City Council Meeting: February 24, 2020”. There's a link within that page to jump directly to the discussion (item 10.6).
In his introductory remarks, City Manager Verbrugge noted that in early December 2019, the city council under former mayor Gene Winstead determined the large-scale community center proposed to be built at Valley View Park “was not viable.”. Verbrugge went on to mention that a concept of “Centers of Community” had been offered as an alternative. He suggested that such centers might be places distributed about the city where groups, clubs, teams, and organizations could conveniently meet. Yet he concluded that the concept of “Centers of Community” was still incompletely understood by the city staff chartered to flesh it out.
In watching the ensuing discussion, Mayor Busse appeared to be the driving force behind this reconsideration of what would best fit the needs of the city and its citizens. He acknowledged that mistakes had been made in the process of coming up with one large community center. He pledged that the effort going forward would be more transparent and that more effort would be put into engaging Bloomington residents. However, he was clearly open to the idea that the best solution might involve distributed facilities, including better use of existing facilities, rather than one large new building.
The city of Edina wants to increase the sales tax in Edina by 0.5%. That is projected to raise our tax by an additional $4 million. Edina has already identified 4 projects they are pursuing: Fred Richards Master Plan, Braemar Park Master Plan, Weber Woods Park and storm facilities, and street reconstruction. Edina is committed to these projects. Increasing our taxes would, perhaps, speed up the implementation of them.
There is a multi-step process to increasing our sales tax. First, the city has to request this increase. They have done that. Then legislators have to sponsor a bill authorizing that increase. Our State Legislators, Representative Heather Edelson and Senator Melisa Franzen both stated at a Town Hall meeting that they would do so. Then it must pass both the Minnesota House and Senate and be signed into law by the Governor. At that point we will be asked to vote to approve the sales tax.
If you want higher sales taxes, vote Yes.
If you want sales taxes to stay the same, vote NO.
Let Rep. Edelson and Sen. Franzen know how you feel about increasing our taxes!
Melisa Franzen 651-296-6238
Heather Edelson 651-269-4363
According to the MN GOP, on Tuesday, February 25th, more than ten thousand Minnesotans attended their precinct caucuses to participate in the party building process, pass resolutions, and make their voices heard.
Senate District 48 (Eden Prairie), Senate District 49 (Edina and West Bloomington), and Senate District 50 (East Bloomington and South Richfield) each reported attendance at or above 200 people.
As expected, local turnout was lower than in 2016 when the Caucus straw-poll attracted people who wanted to weigh-in on the hotly-contested Presidential candidate nomination. A large number of the 2016 attendees had little interest in the other caucus business that is essential to refresh the party organization.
This time around, the majority of the people fully participated in the election of precinct officers, delegates and alternates to the senate district convention, and platform resolutions.
Several candidates walked the rounds of the precinct caucuses in their quest for endorsement at the upcoming conventions. SD48 was addressed by a number of candidates: Rob Barrett Jr (for US Senate), Kendall Qualls (for US House), Jeff Jiang (for MN Senate), Brad Aho (for Hennepin County Commissioner, District 6), and Holly Link, (for MN House District 48B). Senate District 50 heard from Gary Heyer (for MN House District 50B). Rob Barrett Jr’s wife spoke for him during the SD49 and SD50 caucuses. Matt Sikich (for MN House District 49B) stopped in at some of the SD49 precincts in Edina.
Most gratifying, many precincts saw an increase in new attendees. In some precincts, younger people became conveners and secretaries. They did a great job and from what some of them said, they enjoyed being part of the process. In addition, a number stepped forward to become leaders of their precincts in what promises to be a very active election year. Many became delegates and will participate in our senate district conventions in March. Attendees signed up as volunteers to support campaigns or to be Election Judges and Poll Watchers.
A grassroots group of Bloomington residents calling themselves “Hands Off Our Cans” had their right to amend their City Charter vindicated on February 12. The Minnesota Supreme Court, in a split decision, held that the City of Bloomington acted outside its authority in rejecting a ballot measure which gives voters the right to choose whether to continue with Organized Collection of waste hauling in the City of Bloomington.
This is the second time the group has secured a victory for voter rights over the City at the Minnesota Supreme Court. In 2018, the Supreme Court rejected Bloomington’s argument that the citizen effort was preempted by state law.
At this point, the question of whether or not to continue with Organized Collection *should* be placed on the ballot for the Bloomington voters to decide. No further action is necessary by the citizens group that argued the cases before the Supreme Court, as every single argument advanced by the City has been defeated and decided in favor of the petitioners.
Bloomington’s new mayor and city council have not announced their plans in light of this recent decision. However, the implementation of Organized Trash has seen some challenges. When the city essentially took over the collection of trash in 2016, it subcontracted the collection out to a “consortium” of local and national trash haulers. Each hauler was given its own section of the city in which to collect. That agreement runs out at the end of this year.
In January, the Consortium asked for substantial amendments to the City’s updated agreement, noting several areas where the trash companies could not accept the City’s proposed contract terms. The City Council subsequently voted to go out with a new Request for Proposal not limited to the current Consortium.
One possible outcome of this development is that only the large national trash collection companies may be able to accept the new terms. The smaller local companies that had been more responsive to individual homeowner and neighborhood concerns may not have the financial ability to handle the damages clause of the new contract.
A city-wide referendum on Organized Collection may come just as the price-competitive field of trash collectors is about to disappear.Read more
... Some May be Wolves in Sheep Clothing
There are organizations that purport to be for gun rights or against abortion that have popped up in various states. Some even claim to be grassroots supporters of President Trump. In Minnesota, they have even stated that they are more ardent on gun rights or pro-life than Republican legislators.
They use confrontational political tactics to motivate unsuspecting conservatives to donate. The tactics increase the difficulty of reaching reasonable agreements on important legislation. Crucially, the money is not used in support of the causes that they claim to represent.
Pay particular attention to solicitations from Minnesota Gun Rights, Minnesota Right to Life, and the Trump Club of Minnesota. All three were started or headed by one or more of the Dorr brothers (Aaron, Chris, and Ben). CLICK on this expose of the Dorr brothers and consider again whether their organizations are where you want your contributions to go.
A message from MN GOP:
“The deadline to submit your application to run to be a National Delegate or Alternate to the Republican National Convention in Charlotte, NC is just a few days away. The application forms/nomination packets with $25 filing fee must be postmarked by: Feb 29, 2020.
We don't want you to miss out on this exciting opportunity to represent the Land of 10,000 Lakes as a part of Minnesota's National Convention Delegation!
It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience full of great speeches, convention activity and of course, the highlight - nominating our President - as he seeks a second-term. “
Important information you need to know about the convention:
1. Minnesota will elect 36 delegates and 36 alternates this spring. Only those who have completed the application process may run for election.
2. The convention dates are: Monday, August 24 - Thursday, August 27, 2020; plan to travel on August 23 and August 28.
3. A fee of $1000 per person, due when elected, will cover your delegate experience, hospitality, some meals, special guests speakers, travel management customer service and more (lodging, some meals and transportation between Minnesota and Charlotte, NC are not included in this fee, and are estimated as $1500 - 3000).
To apply, please find the forms, plus additional Q&A information from the MN GOP here.
May 1 is the deadline for the state party to submit names of those who are willing to be Election judges for the August primary and November general elections.
Election judges are the backbone of our election system. Any individual who is eligible to vote in this state is qualified to be appointed as an election judge. Election judges are paid officials who staff local polling places, absentee ballot boards, and all early voting venues, to ensure that the ballots and rights of voters are protected.
Minnesota Voters Alliance has been publicizing that election judges in even-numbered years are hired/assigned differently than in years when non-partisan elections are held. In order to maximize your chances of being selected as an election judge (or a poll challenger) in your precinct, it is absolutely critical that you sign up through your political party in 2020, even if you’ve recently served as an election judge.
Why do I need to sign up through my political party?
The Minnesota Legislature has created a system for selecting election judges in even years, such as 2020, that is different from the one used for “odd year” municipal elections.
In even years, in which we have “partisan elections”, the law requires that election judges be selected from the lists submitted to the Secretary of State by the political parties. Minnesota Statute 204B.21 requires that in a year in which there is an election for partisan political office, such as 2020, “each major political party shall prepare a list of eligible voters to act as election judges in EACH precinct”, and submit to the Secretary of State by May 1st.
The law also requires appointing authorities to select election judges from the lists received from the political parties first, before appointing others. This means that if a person signs up through the Secretary of State’s office, or at their local election office, their chances of being selected for 2020 are limited or eliminated.
In addition, failing to sign up through your political party also negatively impacts your party’s ability to verify whether or not the Secretary of State is complying with the “Party Balance Requirement’ for election judges found in 204B.19, Subd 5.
Poll Challengers: this is an unpaid, volunteer role. The Secretary of State site describes the limitations here. Training will be provided by MN GOP. You must be on the list submitted by your party before election day to be a poll challenger.