MN Republican State Legislative Priorities in 2019

Legislative_Priorites_article_photo.jpgEarlier 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.

Edina School Board Formally Presents Legislative Priorities

budget_vote_.jpgFor 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.

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Light Rail Construction Skirts Edina Through Mtka to Eden Prairie

SWLRT_cermonial_shovels_500.jpgOn 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.

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Final Decisions on Personal Care Assistant Case Awaited

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.

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Looking Back, Looking Forward: Reflections on 2018

Trees_refelcted_in_lake_pexels-photo-454880.jpegLooking 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.

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Recognizing Health Care Actions of GOP Legislature

bright-cardiac-cardiology-433267_small.jpgIn 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.


Good Turnout for Holiday Party

Edited_Barb__Patti__Aaron__Barb_S____Lane_Hersey.jpgPerhaps it was the sense of contrast coming in from a damp cool night into a warm and friendly bar. Or perhaps it was the descending darkness outside and the brightly light interior, or the smell of delicious food on a near empty belly. Whatever the reason, to me there was a feeling of magic in the air.

Edited_Sandra___Lewis_Coffey__Don_Johnson____Guest.jpgAs our loyal and faithful party members arrived and saw familiar faces, as new and uninitiated couples mingled with our staunch and devoted supporters, I witnessed the beginning of new friendships, like watching a family grow.

Beneath the flickering candlelight, subdued wall lanterns, and the rustic brick background were the hushed pleasant conversations of young and old. We had come together for a quiet evening in memory of the past and in celebration of the future. It was a time for reflection, a time for joy, a time for sorrow, a time for regeneration.

Edited_Smiling_Dave_Clynes-01.jpgYes, we’re a bit battle-weary, a bit skeptical but we are also eternally hopeful in this the celebratory season. We put on our festive red attire, we extend our hand to newcomers, and we become a part of that mystery that holds us together.

Thanks to SD49 and SD50 for hosting this event, and thanks to all who came out to enjoy the December 10th event.

See you in January!

Reality Check - State Central Begins New Direction

State_Central_12_2018-1.jpgThis past Saturday morning, bright and early at the Marriot Hotel in Minnetonka, the State Central Committee of the Minnesota GOP convened their regular December meeting in an atmosphere of both heartbreaking disappointment and grim determination. The stunning results of the mid-term election was the only subject of conversation as everyone checked in and sampled the coffee and donuts. There were many expressions of heartfelt thanks to volunteers who had passionately sacrificed vast amounts of time, energy and money to help get a superb field of endorsed Republican candidates across the finish line, only to experience bitter disappointment.

The meeting was called to order promptly at the appointed time and the business proceeded according to the agenda in a most Republican fashion, with the Pledge and the Invocation and all of the regular Roberts Rules steps observed in the regular way. There were officers’ reports and guest speakers to be accommodated along the way, and a Treasurer’s report that showed the Party in stronger and stronger financial condition, while everyone gradually followed along.

And then, quite unexpectedly, something very irregular began to quietly steal its way into the hall. There were victories to be celebrated, as well as defeats. Three House Districts and many state legislative seats had been held. There were spots of light in the ruins. As Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka asked “Who are we?” and Chair Carnahan answered that “Losing shows us who we are!”, there began to spread throughout the hall the silent feeling that the recent heartbreaking losses that we’d all felt, might in fact be the birthing pains of an historic opportunity….that what had felt like an ending might actually be a beginning….if only we have the strength and the will to make it happen.


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Edina Schools - Empty Desks Mean Major Funding Shortfall

Empty_Desks_pexels-photo-256395.jpegAt a recent work session, the Edina School board got an update of how the number of students in the elementary schools compared with their projections. This is important because the number of students translates into funding from the State for next year. Normally this is a small detail because, while no projection is perfect, the administration is pretty good at making these projections. These results were different.

Enrollment in the elementary schools is 93 students less than last year and 126 students less than projected. The result of this is that the funds from the State to pay for elementary education next year will be $500,000 less than planned. The school board will be challenged on how to deal with this situation.

The first question they will have to address is why so many Edina residents aren’t sending their children to Edina schools this year? We all know of the controversies over the last few years and that the academic test results have fallen for many consecutive years. I know of a few parents who took their children out of Edina schools because of these issues. The drop of 93 students from last year is not just a few concerned parents.

Cutting_Elementary_Education_pexels-photo-236118.jpegLast year the school board talked about doing a survey of those who left the Edina school system, but it was never implemented. That survey should be undertaken immediately. This drop in enrollment is a very big challenge. However, unless the school board has accurate information on why parents are taking their children out of Edina elementary schools, they cannot begin to address and correct the enrollment drop. These things take time to figure out.

There was a recent listen and learn session to understand what goals Edina residents have for the Edina Public Schools. When it came to elementary school, many wanted to reduce class sizes. A $500,000 budget shortfall will make that impossible. It is possible that 4-7 teaching jobs would be eliminated to offset that shortfall. That would only serve to increase class sizes.
As this develops throughout the school year, I will keep you updated.

Election of SD49 Officers, Delegates Coming in February 2019

For_Newsletter_Convention_2018_Stage.jpgThe time is coming to elect executive officers and State Central delegates in Senate District 49. Their two-year terms will be ending this coming February. Please consider whether you are interested in serving as an executive officer or State Central delegate. You need to be a Republican and live within the boundaries of Senate District 49

In February 2017, delegates to the SD49 convention elected the 15-member SD49 Executive Committee: two Co-Chairs, ten Vice Chairs, a Secretary, a Treasurer, and a Communications Chair. The 2017 convention also elected 16 people (4 Delegates and 12 Alternates) specifically to attend the biannual MN GOP State Central meetings.

Senate District 49 is a leading local Republican organization in Minnesota, based on the strength and knowledge of its Executive Committee. We also encourage new blood in leadership roles, with the SD49 bylaws imposing term limits. Several officers will be leaving their positions in 2019. A description of the executive officer positions can be found in the SD49 Bylaws, Article IV, Section 4.

Delegates and Alternates to the MN GOP State Central meetings would typically attend four meetings over the two-year term. The meetings get reports on the state of the state party; vote on proposed changes to the party constitution and bylaws; and elect state party officers. Please note the description of the most recent State Central meeting found here

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 or 612-839-0761. He will set up an interview with you before the convention as part of our search process.

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