Candidates Drop In on Pitchers & Politics

Doug_Wardlow_at_P_P_293x308.jpgThe Pitchers & Politics gathering on Thursday evening, April 19, was a great opportunity to meet with some strong candidates and some outgoing Republicans.

Doug Wardlow, running for MN Attorney General, again reminded us of the importance of an attorney general who will work for the people of Minnesota.

Ellen Cousins, candidate for the Minnesota House (and most recently chair of Senate District 48) talked about her efforts to prepare for the upcoming campaign. Eden Prairie’s next mayor, Brad Aho, also stopped by to talk with his supporters.

Ellen_Cousins___Brad_Aho_465x308.JPGPitchers & Politics is a monthly happy hour get-together sponsored by Republicans in Senate Districts 44, 48, and 49. We meet on the third Thursday evening of every month at the Gold Nugget, 1441 Excelsior Blvd in Minnetonka, from 4:30 pm to 7:00 pm. Watch this space for the announcement of the next one.

Sen. Joni Ernst inspires at Lincoln Reagan Dinner

Some_SD49_Attendees_304x228.jpgMore than a two dozen Republicans from SD49 were among the crowd of almost 900 people for the April 13 Lincoln Reagan dinner / fundraiser for the MN Republican Party.

This lively gathering of people from all over the state was an opportunity to see and hear from current state & national office incumbents and also informally exchange views and news with fellow Republicans. Great music was provided by MN pianist Lori Line during dinner and by an Atlanta-based singer in the foyer before & after. Our CD3 US Representative, Erik Paulsen, spoke briefly about current topics in Congress as well as the challenges of this year’s elections in MN. CD2’s US Representative Jason Lewis served as the Master of Ceremonies for the evening.

Joni_Ernst_on_Jumbo_Screen.JPGLincoln Reagan dinner keynote speaker, Iowa’s US Senator Joni Ernst, spoke of her path to political office. Before her sophomore year of college, she gained a strong appreciation of the USA after participating in an agricultural-exchange trip to Ukraine (then part of the the Soviet Union). She decided to serve our country in the military, beginning with college ROTC. She rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard. She spent 12 months in Kuwait as the company commander of the 1168th Transportation Company during the Iraq War.

Over a ten year period, Ernst went from Auditor of Montgomery County, Iowa, to the Iowa State Senate to the US Senate. She is the first woman to represent Iowa in the US Congress and the first female combat veteran elected to the US Senate from any state.

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Legislative Report by MN House Republicans - early April

The Minnesota House Republicans provided this legislative report, as of early April 2018:

Anselmo_March_2018_Update.jpgOn March 29, house Republicans unveiled a legislative package aimed at putting student safety first. Using a multifaceted approach, it includes more resources to meet the needs of students and schools statewide. This allows for hiring more school resource officers, student counselors and mental health professionals in addition to making critical building security upgrades.

As reported by Brian Bakst of Minnesota Public Radio, “consensus is forming around a sizable boost in funding that Minnesota schools could use to shore up security, with House Republicans announcing Thursday they hope to devote $50 million to that effort."

Rep. Dario Anselmo, R-Edina, pictured above right, is the author of one bill in this package. Anselmo’s bill would provide suicide prevention training for teachers to help educators learn how to engage and assist students experiencing mental distress.

A companion bill, submitted by Rep. Jenifer Loon, R- Eden Prairie, funds school building security upgrades. It allows expanded use of Long-Term Facility Maintenance revenue for security projects, including emergency communications systems

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Bloomington Community Center Plans Progressing Slowly

Creekside_Center.jpgFor almost 20 years now, the city of Bloomington has been discussing the various issues of its Creekside Community Center at 98th and Penn Avenue. Nearly 60 years since it was constructed, it has gradually become more painfully obvious that something needs to be done to make it more user friendly to a much larger, older and more diverse population than the former elementary school was originally designed for. In 2014, with that in mind, the city hired HGA Architects & Engineers to evaluate the facility and propose solutions.

The study submitted by HGA in April of 2015 recommended that the old center could not be expanded or redesigned to fit the new population of users because the building was simply too old and the lot size was too small. The most economical course was to construct a new facility on a larger piece of land, specifically designed to accommodate the larger and more diverse population of user groups. The proposed new center could include a wide range of family oriented facilities such as walking/running tracks, gymnasium, swimming and soaking pools, meeting/conference rooms and offices, storage rooms, auditorium, library, weight training room, dance/aerobics studio, and child care facilities to name just a few.

With the engineering report in hand, the city formed a 17-member Community Center Task Force of user groups and residents and began to search for a site for the new facility. They very soon settled on the space across 90th Street from the baseball fields between Nicollet and Portland Avenues. Owned by the Bloomington School District, and with that property transfer yet to be approved, the space appears to provide an opportunity for the city to team up with the district to share the burdens and benefits of the facility. Soon afterward, in an effort to mitigate the burden on taxpayers, the city began to search for other partners as well, and settled on the YMCA.

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Edina Franchise Fees Going Up

analog_power_meter_reading-150x150.jpgIn March, the Edina City Council approved an increase in the utility franchise fee for Xcel Energy to raise money for the City’s Conservation and Sustainability Fund. The residential customer franchise fee will be 95 cents per meter per month in 2018 [$11.40 per year] and $1.45 in 2019 [$17.40]. That is a 52.6% increase in one year. Fees for non-residential customers will increase by a similar percentage. An increase for CenterPoint Energy customers was approved earlier this year.

Franchise fees are charges that show up on the monthly Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy bills with no explanation that the resulting funds are passed on directly to the city treasury. The state legislature enabled the local governments to levy these fees as a means of covering the cost of maintenance of the right of ways granted to energy companies. However, the funding generated was not constrained to that purpose, as can be seen in the way Edina proposes to use the additional money it intends to raise. Clearly, the city does not recognize any constraint in how much it plans to raise through this approach.

By linking the fee to the meter that measures energy consumption rather than the amount of energy consumed, citizens have no means of minimizing this “tax”. For a city as “progressive” as Edina, this type of fee is very regressive. The fee is the same no matter how large or small a house. It even hits organizations that would otherwise not be taxed. If a charity or a place of worship owns or occupies a building serviced by Xcel Energy or CenterPoint Energy, it will be billed for the franchise fees.

Republicans Should Stand for Cleaner and Cheaper Energy

Windmill_Generators.jpgMike Franklin, president of the Minnesota Conservative Energy Forum spoke to an attentive group of SD49 Republicans at our March 27 dinner meeting.

He spoke passionately, advocating that Republican candidates would have a winning message if they pushed for cleaner and cheaper energy.  It would also be an economic benefit for Minnesota households & businesses. 

The public utilities’ monopoly on energy production and the distribution grid can be compared with the telephone system of the 1960’s when if you wanted a telephone you leased it from the phone company, and you had no choices (other than call / don’t call) for the high long-distance calling rates.  Energy production and distribution has also been managed based on a sole-source, over-regulated, protected-pricing model.  MNCEF believes that technology has advanced to the point that it is possible to instead use a free-market model. "All of the Above" is both cost-effective and a winning message when it comes to energy sources.

For_Newsletter_Mike_Franklin.jpgClean energy has been a winning issue for progressives in Minnesota, because they trapped Republicans with a “false choice” of competing values (clean vs cheap, harm to the environment vs proven energy sources).  Only the government and large energy monopolies could successfully manage these choices.  Increasingly, younger Americans feel the priority should be to develop alternative energy sources, and they think that only conservative Republicans believe that the priority should go to expanding production of oil, coal, and natural gas.   

Franklin argues that, as Republicans, we should

  • Ask if a market-based model would deliver energy more efficiently than the sole-source model
  • Assume that those who stand to benefit should bear more of the risk that the tax-payers do now
  • Eliminate regulatory constraints that clash with the first two points
  • Be skeptical of those who believe that the Government should bear the risk of failure
  • Be open to alternative, clean, energy sources under acceptable circumstances, without subsidies


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SD49 Convention Endorses Anselmo, Hears State Candidates

For_Newsletter_Dario_Anselmo_from_Barb_Sutter.jpgThe hallmark of a truly great performance is making it look easy! Our March 17 Senate District 49 Republicans Convention was a joy to attend this year, thanks to the skill of our SD49 Co-Chairs Randy Sutter & Wayne Wenger, Convention Chairman Louis Tiggas, Convention Administrator Beth Beebe, our Executive Committee, and dozens of volunteers.

For_Newsletter_Erik_Paulsen_from_Lonny_Leitner.jpg145 seated delegates and alternates plus a few dozen observers and guests gathered at Bethany Church in Bloomington to carry out the next step in our grass roots bottom-to-top process. The venue was a new one and the size and layout proved to be an ideal choice. The packed agenda was moved along in a brisk and business-like fashion by Convention Chairman Louis Tiggas (below right).

Delegates heard 11 candidates and candidate representatives throughout the day, starting with U.S. Representative Erik Paulsen (left) who spoke about successful passage of tax cuts, jobs acts and his campaign. The opportunity to hear early in the process from those who will eventually be on the Fall ballot is, for many of us, a key reason for attending our SD Convention.


For_Newsletter_Convention_2018_Stage.jpgThe business agenda of the convention proceeded, in between guest speakers, to endorsement of Senate District candidates. The convention was split into sub-conventions of House District 49A and House District 49B. Representative Dario Anselmo (above, right) gave a rousing speech to the delegates of House District 49A and was easily endorsed for a 2nd term as Representative for Minnesota House District 49A. The House District 49B sub-convention was adjourned to give more time for discussions with prospective candidates for the 49B seat. The HD49B sub-convention attendees may be contacted to reconvene for a brief endorsing session at a later date.

For_Newsletter_Louis_Tiggas.jpgAfter the sub-convention business was completed, selection of delegates and alternates to the upcoming Congressional District 3 convention, Congressional District 5 convention, and the Minnesota State Convention went smoothly as nominating committee slates were approved and augmented with nominations from the floor. SD49 will be able to seat 30 delegates at the June 1-2 State convention in Duluth to endorse U.S. Senate candidates, a candidate for governor, and other state office candidates.

  Keep reading for more photos, volunteer recognition and information about platform resolutions.

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Bloomington Taxpayer-Funded MOA Waterpark Proposed

Water_Park_Proposed.jpgThe Mall of America (MOA) wants to add a waterpark to its many attractions.

Not just any waterpark. At 225,000 square feet, it would be one of the largest indoor waterparks in North America.

KARE 11 News reported that on March 6 the MOA briefed the Bloomington City Council and the Port Authority on its proposal for a $150 million to $200 million waterpark across 24th Avenue from the mega mall on land that the MOA owns.
The MOA plan proposed that the waterpark be publicly owned and taxpayer financed. Representatives from Triple 5, the corporate owners of the Mall of America, told the Bloomington City Council that due to the changing climate of retail, and its struggles to keep up with Amazon, they are pushing new projects to have half of its makeup focused on entertainment.

The Mall of America is about 70 percent retail so adding another entertainment venue would help increase more traffic to the area, they claim. The indoor waterpark at the West Edmonton Mall in Canada attracts more than 500,000 guests annually.

At this point, the proposal to develop the MOA land across from MOA is just beginning to be considered. The Star Tribune  noted that that the city is nowhere close to approving the water park. Port Authority Administrator Schane Rudlang said that the project “is in the extremely early stages,” while [Mayor Gene] Winstead called the March 6 meeting a “very preliminary conversation.”

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Legislative Update from MN House Republicans

Speak_Daudt_and_Majority_Leader_Gaselka_Strib_photo.jpgThe Minnesota House Republicans provided this Legislative Update in March 2018.

Governor Dayton released his supplemental budget proposal on March 16. It included more than a billion dollars in proposed tax increases and fee increases on DMV visits to pay for fixes to the failed MNLARS system.

In a step in the right direction, the governor indicated he will join most other states in using Federal Adjusted Gross Income. In the coming weeks, Republicans will unveil our tax conformity proposal; rather than using tax conformity to raise taxes on Minnesotans, Republicans will focus on holding Minnesotans harmless and preventing headaches for filers next year.

Republicans have no plans to ask Minnesotans to pay more taxes when we have a budget surplus. We are pleased with some of the governor’s proposals like school safety and funding to help deputy registrars hurt by the MNLARS disaster. We will review his proposals in the coming days, and will come forward with proposals of our own in the coming weeks.

After balancing the budget with an emphasis on tax relief and roads and bridges last session, House Republicans are working this session to make government work better for Minnesotans.

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Republican Lawmakers Introduce Amendment To Downsize Legislature

nimble_government.jpgAs reported by the Associated Press, published in the St. Paul Pioneer Press last week, two Republicans, Rep. Nick Zerwas and Sen. Scott Jensen, introduced a constitutional amendment March 8 that would decrease the size of the Legislature.

If the bill to reduce the Legislature by 54 members (27%) is approved by the Legislature, the question would be on the November ballot. Voter approval would make the change effective starting in 2022, which aligns with the timing for redistricting.

With 201 members (67 state senators, 134 representatives), Minnesota’s Legislature is currently 4th largest in the country.

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