Bloomington Charter Commission to Meet March 23 on Voting, Trash

Bloomington_City_Hall_for_Newsletter.jpgThe Bloomington Charter Commission has announced they will meet to discuss two topics:  Ranked Choice Voting and Organized Trash Collection. The meeting will take place on Monday, March 23, in the Haeg Conference Room, Bloomington Civic Plaza, 1800 W. Old Shakopee Rd, Bloomington.  The meeting is scheduled to start at 6:00 pm.

The Charter Commission may discuss whether Ranked Choice Voting can be imposed by an ordinance passed by the City Council or if it needs to be voted on by referendum.  The concern is that there are no state statutes or rules that pertain specifically to such voting.  Is the city able to make their own rules for voting in local elections?

The Charter Commission also needs to review the recent Minnesota Supreme Court ruling on Bloomington’s “organized” system of trash collection.   The Court 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 will be an open meeting, although it is not clear if the public will be allowed to speak.  Citizens concerned with these developments are urged to attend to at least show their interest. With many meetings and larger gatherings being rescheduled, please verify on the city website before travelling to attend.


Legislative Update: Emergency Insulin Bill Passes MN Senate

Last Thursday, the Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act passed the MN Senate by a unanimous vote. The Senate legislation sets up a means by which a person with diabetes who cannot afford insulin can get it at little cost. The bill must now be reconciled with a House bill in conference committee.

How to provide insulin at little cost to those without adequate insurance has long been the sticking point. The DFL position has been to fund the program through high fees on insulin makers. Republicans leaned toward setting up and administering the program using state money, expecting drug companies to provide the insulin at no charge.

Sen_Scott_Jenson.jpgThe bill that was ultimately approved unanimously was put forth by Republican Senator Scott Jenson (pictured on right), who is also a practicing doctor in Chaska. According to a March 13 MinnPost article, it requires no state funding. Rather, it would rely on existing patient assistance programs employed by drug makers Sanofi, Lilly, and Novo Nordisk. Should any of these drug companies not agree to take part, they would initially be subject to fines of $100,000 a month. After six months, a company that failed to join the program would see fines jump to $200,000 a month.

While PhRMA, the industry trade group, has opposed plans that compel the drug industry provide products for low or no cost, Sen. Jenson believes that the companies would prefer his plan to a House bill that imposes $38 million in license fees to pay for a state-run program

MN Presidential Primary and Polling Place Privacy

Resized_I_voted_on_fingertip_grey_background.jpgVoter turnout for the MN Presidential Primary March 3 was a respectable 26% overall statewide. More than 140,500 Republicans voted and about 5-times more Democrats showed up to vote.

In SD49A, Edina’s turnout was better than the statewide number, about 36% and there were 15 DFL voters for every 1 Republican who showed up. In SD49B, Bloomington/Eden Prairie, 1 in 3 registered voters participated (33%) and there were 9-times more DFL voters than Republicans.

In case you chose not to vote out of shyness for declaring your party-affiliation out loud at the polling place (for the Presidential Primary only), fears of that were unfounded in our area.  The use of technology for the verification of registration and ballot request helped preserve privacy. After a voter stated name/address to an election judge who located the individual's registration, the screen was rotated to allow the voter to press a button to indicate which party's ballot they wanted.  The ballot-request slip printed on identical plain paper was then given to the voter, who turned it in to a 2nd judge in exchange for their paper ballot from the appropriate party. There was no audible party-identification.

Unfortunately a staff member at the office of the Secretary of State mis-used technology.  For a portion of the morning of March 3, those looking online to find their voting locations were instead electronically re-directed to a Democrat PAC (Political Action Committee) website.  Once there, they were required to enter personal identifying information before proceeding.  In essence the Secretary of State facilitated disclosure of voter data to an organization other than the "major political parties" authorized by the MN Presidential Primary legislation.

SD49's Barb Sutter is Candidate for National Committeewoman

Barb_Sutter_National_Committeewoman.jpgSD49's own Barbara Sutter, MN GOP Secretary and former SD49 GOP Co-Chair, announced on March 2 that she is running for Republican National Committeewoman from Minnesota. 

The current National Committeewoman, Janet Beihoffer, is not seeking re-election after serving in that position for eight years. Becky Hall of Duluth has also declared as a candidate for National Committeewoman.

Along with the MN GOP Chair, the National Committeewoman and Committeeman represent Minnesota Republicans on the Republican National Committee.  They attend formal RNC meetings three times a year and serve in national and regional capacities as appointed. 

In her announcement letter, Barb Sutter said, “I’ve had the pleasure of joining the Minnesota Delegation at several RNC Meetings over the past year. I’ve had the opportunity to meet our fellow RNC Chairmen, Committee members and RNC staff, and have enjoyed helping build our party nationally. I’m particularly proud of working on RNC staff coming here to support our Affiliate activities, which is a first for us!

“I intend to bring the same energy to this new role, and I believe that I can continue growing the value of the position. I want to leverage the national exposure we’ve had, to bring more resources to Minnesota.

“Together, our priority over the next eight months is 1) delivering our state’s 10 electoral votes to President Trump, 2) winning congressional seats, 3) holding the majority in the MN Senate, and 4) winning back the MN House.  Through my time in this party, I feel confident that I can help the team work effectively to do just that.”

The National Committeewoman is a volunteer position, with only certain expenses reimbursed.  The election will be held at the MN GOP State Central meeting on May 15 in Rochester.  It is a four-year term, roughly concurrent with the presidential term in office.  The newly elected Committeewoman will officially take over her duties from her predecessor immediately after the Republican National Convention in August.

Qualls Calls Out Phillips on Vote for PRO Act

Qualls_1.jpgKendall Qualls has challenged Third District Congressman Dean Phillips on his recent vote in favor of the so-called “PRO Act”, which contains harmful provisions for employers, employees and residents of the Third District.

The Republican candidate in the Third Congressional District, Kendall Qualls pointed out that the "Protecting the Right to Organize Act", or PRO Act, amends the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) in several important ways. The PRO Act reflects the objectives of unions and their allies which are, in short, to prop up labor unions at the expense of employers and employees.

The bill radically rewrites American labor law in favor of organized labor.

“Dean Phillips campaigned as a moderate and said he would govern as a moderate, but his vote for Big Labor’s “PRO-Act” shows he’s taking his marching orders from union bosses and Nancy Pelosi. On issue after issue he has aligned himself with the most extreme elements of the Democratic Party,” said Qualls.

“Dean Phillips making appearances at our local chambers of commerce and attempting to pass himself off as a pro-business Democrat is nothing but a facade,” said Qualls. “Once again, Dean’s quotes don’t match his votes,” concluded Qualls.

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Bigger Projected Budget Surplus Argues for Tax Relief

Get_your_billion_back.jpgLast 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.”


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Dean Phillips (CD3) - a Dem Congressional Seat Bloomberg "Bought"

US_House_Chamber.jpgAlphaNews 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

Bloomington Lyndale Ave. Retrofit Launched

Lyndale-Retrofit.jpgThe 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

Bloomington Community Center or "Centers of Community"?

Bloomington_Existing_Community_Center.jpgThe 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.


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Edina Sales Tax Proposed

sales-tax_grey_background.jpgThe 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

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