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  • Center of the American Experiment releases Minnesota state government scandal tracker

    Posted by: Katie Fulkerson on November 19, 2019
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    After yesterday’s announcement that taxpayers are on the hook for another $23 million due to the Department of Human Service’s continued mismanagement of public funds, Center of the American Experiment released a comprehensive list of state government failures in recent years, dating back to the failed MNsure rollout of 2013. The aptly named scandal tracker describes nearly fifty state government failures in one sentence each, lists them by date, and categorizes them as examples of mismanagement, cronyism/corruption, IT failures, or data breaches. State Government Scandal Tracker The scandal tracker is an extension of the recent Thinking Minnesota magazine cover story...

  • Center of the American Experiment adds second economist with new hire Martha Njolomole

    Posted by: Katie Fulkerson on October 28, 2019
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    Center of the American Experiment is deepening its focus on economic policy and analysis with the addition of economist Martha Njolomole to its policy staff. Martha earned a Master of Arts in economics at Troy University in Alabama, where she worked as a research assistant on several projects that advanced the ideas of economic freedom and individual liberty. Martha’s upbringing in Malawi, a developing country, helped her develop a passion for contributing to research on the social and economic advancement of economically disadvantaged people. Her major research interests include public policy, political economy, institutions, and development. Her recent work includes...

  • Gov. Walz must restore Minnesota public employees’ First Amendment rights

    Posted by: Katie Fulkerson on September 27, 2019
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    Alaska Governor Michael J. Dunleavy issued an executive order Thursday afternoon to bring the state into compliance with the 2018 United States Supreme Court’s ruling in Janus v. AFSCME. “A contract that is unconstitutional is no contract at all,” said Alaska’s Attorney General Kevin Clarkson, after issuing a formal opinion that the state did not have the required “clear and compelling evidence” of affirmative consent from public employees before deducting union dues from their paychecks. The executive order will give public employees in Alaska the choice of affirmatively opting-in to union dues deduction, and also allow them to revoke their decision...

  • Isaac Orr challenges Rep. Jamie Long to debate impact of renewable energy mandates

    Posted by: Katie Fulkerson on September 24, 2019
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    Center of the American Experiment’s energy policy expert Isaac Orr has challenged Rep. Jamie Long to participate in a public debate on the impact of renewable energy mandates on Minnesota. Internal documents recently revealed that Rep. Long was hired by the University of Minnesota to rebut Orr’s groundbreaking new research, which concluded that a 50% renewable energy mandate would significantly increase the cost of energy in Minnesota and destroy jobs but have no measurable impact on the global climate. Orr provided expert testimony on his research before the Minnesota House’s Energy and Climate Finance and Policy Division, of which Rep. Long is the vice chair,...

  • Unethical arrangement allowed anonymous donor to launder left-wing agenda through public university

    Posted by: Katie Fulkerson on September 12, 2019
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    As reported by the Pioneer Press, DFL legislator Jamie Long resigned from his job as an Energy Research Project Specialist at the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment after questions were raised about his hiring and potential lobbying conflicts. According to emails obtained in a data practices request, the position created at the university for Rep. Long was expected to “provide a ‘truth squad’” to “debunk right-wing misinformation spread by a local ‘think tank’ about the reliability and cost of renewable energy, fossil fuels, and nuclear.” This undoubtably refers to Center of the American Experiment policy fellow Isaac Orr,...

  • Minnesota’s economic growth lags national average for the third consecutive quarter

    Posted by: Katie Fulkerson on July 26, 2019
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    New data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis shows that Minnesota’s economy was only the 36th fastest growing in the United States in the first quarter of 2019. While the U.S. generally saw growth of 3.1% in real terms, Minnesota experienced growth of 2.6%. This is the third consecutive quarter in which Minnesota’s growth has lagged the national average. John Phelan, Economist at the Center of the American Experiment, released a statement: “In the last few years we have written reports on the state’s economy calling its performance ‘lackluster’ or ‘unimpressive.’ This new data bears that out. Our state lags...

  • DHS leadership dysfunction is a feature, not a bug, of the agency

    Posted by: Katie Fulkerson on July 23, 2019
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    Following a Star Tribune report of another whistleblower alleging misconduct and retaliation by leadership at the Minnesota Department of Human Services, John Hinderaker, President of Center of the American Experiment, released a statement: “The dysfunction and lack of accountability within DHS are clearly features, not bugs, of the agency. Whistleblowers under two different governors and two different commissioners have tried, and failed, to create a more honest culture from within. What we have here is either corruption, or a leadership vacuum. In either case, we must strengthen Minnesota’s whistleblower protections to make sure state employees who work for the taxpayers...

  • Twin Metals Minnesota Announces Most Environmentally Friendly Mine in Minnesota History

    Posted by: Katie Fulkerson on July 18, 2019
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    Twin Metals Minnesota (TMM) announced today they will take extraordinary measures to protect Minnesota’s water resources at their planned copper-nickel mine in Northern Minnesota by using a method called dry stack tailings storage, which is often touted by environmental groups as the best way to store waste rock left over from the mining process. Isaac Orr, policy fellow at Center of the American Experiment, released the following statement: “This approach will make the Twin Metals mine the most environmentally friendly mine in the history of our state. It’s further proof we can protect Minnesota’s pristine environment while growing a strong...

  • Minnesotans deserve to know what, if anything, DHS has done to stop “pervasive” child care fraud

    Posted by: Katie Fulkerson on July 15, 2019
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    In light of turmoil within the Minnesota’s Department of Human Services that led to the resignation of its three top officials, John Hinderaker, President of Center of the American Experiment, released the following statement: “Governor Walz needs to come clean with Minnesotans about what is going on at the Department of Human Services. The Inspector General is still under investigation, the second and third ranking officials at the agency quit last week, and now the commissioner has resigned after just six months on the job. Now more than ever, Minnesotans need reassurance DHS has been doing its job despite the apparent internal turmoil...

  • Trump’s new Affordable Clean Energy Rule a common-sense replacement for Clean Power Plan stayed by Supreme Court

    Posted by: Kathryn Hinderaker on June 19, 2019
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    (St. Paul, MN) – The Trump Administration released its finalized Affordable Clean Energy Rule (ACE) to replace the Obama-era Clean Power Plan. Isaac Orr, Policy Fellow at Center of the American Experiment, released the following statement in response:   “The Trump Administration should be applauded for finalizing the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule, a common-sense reform which correctly scales back the EPA overreach that occurred under the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan (CPP). This overreach is why the Supreme Court took the unprecedented step to stay the Clean Power Plan before it was ever implemented.   “According to research published by American Experiment, Minnesota would save $7.4 billion dollars,...

  • Charter schools’ inclusion in lawsuit could be a disaster for minority students

    Posted by: Kathryn Hinderaker on June 13, 2019
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    (St. Paul, MN) – Katherine Kersten, Senior Policy Fellow at Center of the American Experiment, released a statement on the latest court ruling in the Cruz-Guzman lawsuit, which seeks a sweeping plan to sort Twin Cities students into schools on the basis of their skin color:   “Minnesotans of all political stripes agree that the racial learning gap is the most serious problem our public schools face. High-performing charter schools that place special emphasis on the needs of racial minorities have been most successful in shrinking that gap. The Cruz-Guzman lawsuit attacks the ability of these charter schools to perform their...

  • MN Schools Spent Nearly $1.5 Million of Taxpayer Funds Lobbying State

    Posted by: Tom Steward on June 10, 2019
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    Independent school districts across Minnesota spent nearly $1.5 million of taxpayer funding to lobby state legislators and agencies in 2018, according to the latest report on local government lobbying expenditures from the Office of the State Auditor. Overall, local government entities spent $8.7 million on lobbying state lawmakers in 2018, down slightly due to a shorter legislative session than in 2017. An American Experiment analysis found that 244 of the state’s 336 school districts, nearly three in four, dedicated a total of $1,441,726 to hiring lobbyists to advocate for increased public funding and policy issues last year at the State...

  • Minnesota’s miners played an often-forgotten role in D-Day history

    Posted by: Kathryn Hinderaker on June 6, 2019
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    (St. Paul, MN) – Isaac Orr, Policy Fellow at Center of the American Experiment, released the following statement in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of D-Day:   “Today we remember the heroism of more than 160,000 American and Allied troops who stormed the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, and the thousands of soldiers who sacrificed their lives to save the world from the horrors of Nazi tyranny and the Holocaust.   “Minnesota played an important and often-forgotten role in Allied victories, including D-Day. Both before and after that day, Minnesota’s miners labored tirelessly over 16-hour days to provide the iron ore that became the ships,...

  • Line 3 is key to North American energy independence

    Posted by: Kathryn Hinderaker on June 3, 2019
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    (St. Paul, MN) – Isaac Orr, Policy Fellow at Center of the American Experiment, released the following statement in response to the MN Court of Appeals reversal of the Minnesota PUC’s approval of the environmental review (EIS) of the Enbridge Line 3 oil pipeline replacement project:   “Today’s decision by the Minnesota Court of Appeals that will delay the replacement of Line 3 is disappointing. New pipelines are safer than older versions, just like newer cars are safer than older ones.   “Oil is the largest energy source in Minnesota, accounting for 35% of Minnesota’s total energy consumption, according to federal...

  • Minnesotans ‘dodge a bullet’ as carbon-free energy mandates don’t make the cut in final budget bill

    Posted by: Kathryn Hinderaker on May 23, 2019
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    (St. Paul, MN) – Isaac Orr, Policy Fellow at Center of the American Experiment, released the following statement in response to the newly posted budget agreement for Jobs, Energy, and Commerce, which does not include a 100% carbon-free energy mandate. Orr testified in front of House and Senate energy committees six times during the 2019 legislative session in opposition to the mandate. “Minnesotans dodged a bullet this legislative session. If the ‘Green New Deal’ style carbon-free energy mandate had passed, the costs to Minnesota families, businesses, and the state government would have crippled our state’s economy. Despite the costs, there would be no measurable impact...

  • Minnesotans narrowly escape gas tax increase, avoid yet another nation-leading high tax rate

    Posted by: Kathryn Hinderaker on May 20, 2019
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    (St. Paul, MN) – John Phelan, Economist at Center of the American Experiment, released the following statement in response to the two-year budget deal announced by Gov. Walz and legislative leaders: “Minnesotans spoke out strong and loud against Gov. Walz’s proposed 70% gas tax increase, and narrowly escaped it thanks to conservatives at the legislature. The gas tax may be the only reasonable tax rate Minnesota has left. Our income tax, estate tax, and corporate tax rates are sky-high compared to other states.  “Gasoline is a vital input into a wide range of economic activity, from manufacturing to services. An increase in the cost of...

  • Xcel Energy’s decision to shut down coal-fired power plants means higher energy costs for Minnesotans

    Posted by: Kathryn Hinderaker on
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    (St. Paul, MN) – Isaac Orr, Policy Fellow at Center of the American Experiment, released the following statement in response to Xcel Energy’s plans to close two more coal-fired power plants by 2030.   “Xcel Energy’s announcement that they will close their final coal-fired power plants years before the end of their useful lifetimes is bad news for Minnesota families and businesses who have seen their electricity bills continually increase since the state began to mandate ever-increasing quantities of renewable energy.   “Xcel Energy consistently boasts that their customer’s bills are 22% below the national average, but they don’t tell you...

  • Are Minnesota Taxpayers Being Taken for a Ride by Amtrak?

    Posted by: Tom Steward on May 16, 2019
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    Most Minnesotans have likely never heard of the proposed $550 million Northern Lights Express (NLX) passenger rail line from the Twin Cities to Duluth-Superior. Yet MnDOT has been quietly laying the groundwork for the line for years with a series of engineering and environmental studies. Meantime, Gov. Walz has prioritized the project, requesting $15 million from the legislature to keep NLX on track. If NLX becomes a reality, MnDOT has made it clear that Amtrak would operate the 152-mile line on behalf of the state. In recent weeks Amtrak officials have surfaced in meetings with elected officials in Duluth-Superior and...

  • Renewal of Twin Metals leases will likely lead to 8,500 new Minnesota jobs and $3.7 billion in economic growth

    Posted by: Kathryn Hinderaker on May 15, 2019
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    (St. Paul, MN) – Isaac Orr, Policy Fellow at Center of the American Experiment, released the following statement in response to the renewal of Twin Metals hardrock mineral leases in Northeastern Minnesota:   “Minnesota has the largest undeveloped deposits of copper and nickel in the world. Today’s decision by the Department of the Interior gives Twin Metals the opportunity to prove to Minnesota regulators that they can meet the strictest environmental standards and operate an environmentally responsible mining operation.   “Last summer, Center of the American Experiment released a report that found responsibly mining Minnesota’s copper, nickel, cobalt, and titanium...

  • Highway billboards encourage drivers to voice opposition to Gov. Walz’s proposed gas tax increase

    Posted by: Katie Fulkerson on May 7, 2019
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    Center of the American Experiment launched a billboard blitz this week encouraging drivers to “say no to a 70% gas tax increase” by emailing Gov. Walz via the website NoNewGasTaxes.com. Six billboards went up along major interstate highways in the Twin Cities metro area as lawmakers begin final negotiations on the state’s next two-year budget, two weeks before the legislative deadline.

  • Family caretakers optimistic federal rule changes will free them from unwanted union representation

    Posted by: Katie Fulkerson on May 2, 2019
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    Minnesota Personal Care Attendants (PCAs) celebrated today’s announcement that the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has overturned an Obama-era rule allowing Medicaid payments to be diverted to government unions, saying the rule violates the Social Security Act. The rule change means family members and friends who stay home to care for loved ones will keep all of the Medicaid payments intended for them, rather than paying hundreds of dollars to the SEIU.

  • Taxpayers on the Hook for City’s $195,000 Rebranding Campaign

    Posted by: Tom Steward on April 29, 2019
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    Apparently, the city of  Burnsville has an image problem. Or is it a branding problem? The agency with the winning bid to redefine the aging suburb puts it this way. It seems that Burnsville, like many other suburbs of major metropolitan areas, struggle with their brand. Who are we? Where did we come from? What makes Burnsville, Burnsville? It’s going to cost local taxpayers up to $195,000 this year to figure it out, more in the long run. That’s how much residents will be billed for AE2S Communications, the Grand Forks agency just selected for the project, to rebrand and...

  • Democrats refuse to legalize new nuclear and hydro, the most efficient sources of carbon-free energy

    Posted by: Katie Fulkerson on April 25, 2019
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    “If House DFL members truly believe climate change is an existential crisis, why do they refuse to legalize new nuclear and large hydroelectric power plants? France, Norway, and Sweden successfully use these technologies to lower carbon dioxide emissions rates at a far lower cost than comparable countries that rely heavily on wind and solar. This bill subsidizes solar energy by tens of millions of dollars, but it can’t magically change the fact that the sun doesn’t always shine in Minnesota, and solar is an extremely inefficient source of energy.”

  • Center of the American Experiment launches Employee Freedom awareness campaign as school district employee files lawsuit to challenge union membership

    Posted by: Katie Fulkerson on April 23, 2019
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    Public employees joined Center of the American Experiment to celebrate a new awareness campaign aimed at educating their colleagues about their Constitutional right to free speech, and by extension, their right to opt-out of public union membership. The Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSCME reaffirmed public employees’ right to freedom of association and restored their First Amendment right to keep their jobs without funding a workplace union.  Yet, Minnesota’s public unions are deliberately creating obstacles for union members who wish to resign from union membership. And public employers are complicit because they are honoring union dues-authorization cards that were invalidated by the Supreme Court. 

  • Child care assistance fraud erodes Minnesotans’ trust in state government

    Posted by: Katie Fulkerson on April 10, 2019
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    Kim Crockett, Vice President and Senior Policy Fellow at Center of the American Experiment, released the following statement in response to today’s OLA assessment of internal controls for the child care assistance program:  “Every day that bureaucrats ignore the fraud problems in the child care assistance program, Minnesotans’ trust in state government erodes further. It’s past time DHS starts doing its job, and it is entirely appropriate for the legislature to freeze funding for the program until they do.”  Kim Crockett served as corporate counsel to a national bank and had a long legal career in commercial real estate law...

  • Clean energy job creation numbers artificially inflated

    Posted by: Katie Fulkerson on April 9, 2019
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    The moneyed interests behind wind and solar energy like to pat themselves on the back for creating new jobs, but their claims are artificially inflated. According to their own report, 76% of the jobs they’re claiming to create already exist in industries that are only loosely related to energy efficiency, like installers of energy-efficient doors and appliances. Meanwhile, you never hear about the jobs that will be destroyed when energy prices skyrocket, because employers will have less money available to pay salaries and benefits.

  • Statement: House DFL tax increases hit every Minnesotan

    Posted by: Katie Fulkerson on April 8, 2019
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    The tax increases proposed by the House DFL will hit every Minnesotan, young and old, at every income level. We’ll pay more in gas taxes, tab fees, income taxes, capital gains taxes, death taxes, and sick taxes. Is there any tax they don’t increase in their budget? Minnesotans are already some of the most heavily taxed citizens in America. By proposing an Angel Investor Tax Credit, Democrats admit tax rates act as an incentive or disincentive. Why don’t they apply this logic consistently? These new tax increases will certainly hurt our state’s economy.

  • Explosive OLA report on Welfare Fraud: DHS investigators report widespread child care assistance fraud, lack of internal controls and breakdown in relationship with DHS Inspector General

    Posted by: Kim Crockett on March 13, 2019
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    Senator Mary Kiffmeyer, chair of the Legislative Audit Commission Audit Subcommittee, sounded a consistent theme this morning, “Fraud hides. It does not say ‘Here I am.’ ” The Commission heard testimony this morning from the Office of Legislative Auditor (OLA) and the Department of Human Services (DHS) on the issue of fraud in the Child Care Assistance or “CCAP” program. The CCAP program, according to both the OLA and DHS, has substantial fraud and administrative problems. In fiscal year 2018, Minnesota paid out $254 million in CCAP subsidies to about 30,000 children in about 13,000 families. The money comes from a...

  • Walz follows AOC’s lead, proposing radical, energy-illiterate Green New Deal in Minnesota

    Posted by: Katie Fulkerson on March 4, 2019
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    Isaac Orr, Policy Fellow at Center of the American Experiment, released the following statement in response to Governor Walz’s Green New Deal: “Governor Tim Walz’s Minnesota Green New Deal is straight out of the radical, energy-illiterate playbook. This policy, which would require Minnesota electric facilities to use only carbon-free energy resources by 2050, would cause massive increases in electricity prices for no measurable environmental benefit. “Governor Walz should actually ‘follow the science,’ and  realize this proposal is all pain and no gain for Minnesota’s families and communities. “A soon-to-be released study by Center of the American Experiment found increasing Minnesota’s renewable energy mandate...

  • State continues to collect near record-high tax revenues, weakening argument for massive tax hikes

    Posted by: Katie Fulkerson on February 28, 2019
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    John Phelan, Economist at Center of the American Experiment, released the following statement in response to Minnesota’s February Budget and Economic Forecast: “With a $1 billion surplus and state tax revenues near an all-time peak – tax collections are up by 31% in real terms since 2010 – there is simply no need for massive tax hikes like those proposed in the governor’s budget. Before squeezing working Minnesotans even harder, lawmakers should find out why the state is still failing in one of its core duties, to maintain our transportation infrastructure, when more taxes are being collected than ever before.”

  • Gov. Walz proposal to increase state debt by 10% in one year “irresponsible”

    Posted by: Katie Fulkerson on February 27, 2019
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    Today Governor Walz announced his proposal to take out another $1.3 billion in bonds backed by state taxpayers. If passed, the $1.3 billion in borrowing would be added to the state’s current debt of $12.4 billion, as detailed by MMB in a recent report to the Legislature (page 7). John Hinderaker, President of Center of the American Experiment, released the following statement: “It’s not enough the national debt just hit a record $22 trillion, now Governor Walz wants to run up the state debt by 10% in just one year. It’s irresponsible to put Minnesota taxpayers in the position to...

  • Report reveals how Minnesota teachers in the classroom today have not voted in an election for exclusive representation by a union

    Posted by: Tom Steward on February 11, 2019
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    Media Contact: Kim Crockett, Vice President & General Counsel; Kim.Crockett@AmericanExperiment.org, 612.388.2820 (Golden Valley, MN) A report released by Center of the American Experiment uses original research to confirm that, except for a few teachers, none of Minnesota teachers in the classroom today voted in an election for exclusive representation by a union. Teachers in Minnesota’s K-12 schools are exclusively represented by a union and collective bargaining framework that has not been evaluated by teachers or lawmakers since its formal enactment in 1971. While teachers who belong to the union are eligible to vote on the contract negotiated by the union with...

  • Report reveals how Minnesota teachers are trapped by arbitrary union terms, forcing them to fund Education Minnesota’s partisan political spending

    Posted by: Tom Steward on January 28, 2019
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     Media Contact: Kim Crockett. Esq. (612.388.2820) kim.crockett@americanexperiment.org (Golden Valley, MN) A report released by Center of the American Experiment reveals how Minnesota teachers are trapped by arbitrary union terms, forcing them to fund Education Minnesota’s partisan political spending even after the Janus decision. Last June, the U.S. Supreme Court in Janus v. Afscme said that public employers can no longer collect “fair-share” agency fees from employees who are not members of their workplace union. Minnesota public employers have complied with that order. The court also said that public employers and unions should not assume that employees, including people who had previously...

  • Brainerd City Clerk First in the Nation to Successfully Challenge “Window Period” and Leave Public Union

    Posted by: Tom Steward on January 14, 2019
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    BRAINERD, MN—A clerk for the Brainerd Police Department who filed a federal lawsuit against IBEW Local 31 has become the first public employee in the nation to successfully challenge her public employee union’s “window period” designed to prevent her from immediately invoking her constitutional right not to pay fees and leave the union. “This is exciting news for public employees all over the State of Minnesota and a warning to public employers,” said Kim Crockett, Vice President and General Counsel at Center of the American Experiment. “Public employers are not telling employees they have the right to keep their jobs...

  • Center of the American Experiment Files Amicus Brief with U.S. Supreme Court Challenging Forced Exclusive Representation by Unions: 17 Groups Sign on to CAE’s Petition

    Posted by: Kim Crockett on January 7, 2019
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    Media Contact: Kim Crockett, Vice President and General Counsel kim.crockett@americanexperimentment.org Direct:  612.584.4563 Mobile: 612.388.2820 Center of the American Experiment filed an amicus brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to hear Uradnik v. Inter Faculty Organization, which calls for an immediate end to laws that force public-sector employees to accept a union’s exclusive representation. The case, filed by The Buckeye Institute, is the first major post-Janus labor challenge filed with the United States Supreme Court. The counsel of record is Andrew Grossman of BakerHostetler. Upon filing the brief, Kim Crockett, vice president and general counsel of Center of the American Experiment, said:...

  • MN City Battles Feds and State to Close Small Airport

    Posted by: Tom Steward on January 4, 2019
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    The city of Silver Bay can no longer afford the luxury of spending $35,000 a year maintaining a municipal airport. “I’ve got 20 some miles of 50-year old road,” Silver Bay Mayor Scott Johnson said. “Don’t you think I should spend some maintenance on that instead of the airport?” But neither can the small northeastern Minnesota city afford to close the deteriorating airfield, faced with the threat of $10,000 a day in fines by the Federal Aviation Administration and a bill for $760,000 in “free” government grants the feds and state want to claw back. “I think they’re (the FAA)...

  • Cities Forced to Raise Property Taxes to Subsidize Fiber Optic Network

    Posted by: Tom Steward on November 14, 2018
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    The objective of the $55 million RS Fiber Cooperative high-speed internet system looks intriguing on paper. Proponents pitch it as a world-class internet system designed to equip rural residents in 6,200 homes and farms to compete in the global information economy, retain and attract businesses and keep their kids closer to home. What’s not to like? In short, higher property taxes for residents of ten southern Minnesota cities in Renville and Sibley Counties. Due to a projected $1 million shortfall in revenue for RS Fiber that came out of the blue, property tax levies in those communities will escalate significantly...

  • Federal Agencies Scrutinize Met Council Compliance: Nation’s only regional government without local elected representatives comes under fire

    Posted by: Tom Steward on September 26, 2018
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    WASHINGTON, DC—The Met Council’s exemption from a federal requirement for Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPO) to have local elected officials, rather than political appointees, in charge of spending and policy decisions could be revoked, depending on the outcome of a review underway by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The Met Council remains the only MPO in the nation to be exempted from a requirement designed to hold regional governments accountable to the constituents subject to their decisions. But Federal Transit Administration Highway (FTA) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) officials recently announced they will “undertake further review of the Met Council’s compliance...

  • Environmentally Responsible Mining Will Boost Minnesota’s Economy $3.7 Billion a Year and Create 8,500 Jobs

    Posted by: Tom Steward on August 20, 2018
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    Environmentally responsible mining will provide a $3.7 billion annual boost to Minnesota’s economy, create 8,500 jobs and generate nearly $200 million a year in tax revenue for state and local governments, according to a new report by Center of the American Experiment. The report, Unearthing Prosperity: How Environmentally Responsible Mining Will Boost Minnesota’s Economy, evaluates the mining potential of the state’s largely untapped world-class mineral resources. “Mining is often framed as an ‘either or’ proposition—jobs or the environment, tourism jobs or mining jobs. But this is an inaccurate portrayal of modern mining,” said Isaac Orr, a policy fellow at Center...

  • Supreme Court Rules Public Employees Are Not Required to Fund Unions in Big Win for First Amendment Rights

    Posted by: Kim Crockett on June 27, 2018
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        Media Contact: Kim Crockett 612.388.2820 kim.crockett@americanexperiment.org Decision affects thousands of Minnesota teachers, state and local government employees In a landmark decision for First Amendment rights, the U.S. Supreme Court today ruled that public employees cannot be compelled to pay union fees as a condition of employment. The 5-4 ruling in Janus v. AFSCME restores the First Amendment rights of freedom of association and free speech to more than five million government employees nationwide. The decision is likely to decrease the funding and political clout of powerful public employee unions in Minnesota and 21 other non-right-to-work states. Weighing a...

  • Educated Teachers Project Launches Statewide Information Campaign

    Posted by: Tom Steward on May 8, 2018
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    A new project being launched on National Teacher Appreciation Day, Educated Teachers MN aims to inform and empower Minnesota K-12 educators by raising awareness of a U.S. Supreme Court case widely expected to end the forced payment of union dues and fees by teachers and other government employees as a condition of employment. In 2016-2017 Education Minnesota collected over $50 million in dues and fees from 75,000 teachers statewide that were used for collective bargaining, lobbying and advancing the union’s political agenda. But Education Minnesota, AFSCME-5 and other statewide public employee unions are already bracing for the potential loss of...

  • 1st Amendment Challenge to Mandatory Union Fees Could Free All Public Employees From Forced Union Fees

    Posted by: Kim Crockett on February 26, 2018
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    Education Minnesota tactics cited in briefs before the Court The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday heard the long-anticipated case brought by Mark Janus, an Illinois child support specialist who’s asking the Court to end mandatory “agency” or “fair-share” fees. Center of the American Experiment has joined Cato Institute and the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) in an amicus brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to rule in favor of Mark Janus. The legal theory of the case is that all public-sector collective bargaining is political. Several other briefs before the Court cite an opinion editorial by Kim Crockett in The...

  • FTA Recommends No Funding for Southwest and Bottineau LRT, Orange and Gold Line BRT

    Posted by: Kim Crockett on February 15, 2018
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    The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has released its Annual Report on Funding Recommendations for the Fiscal Year 2019. The FTA is not recommending funding for any projects in Minnesota. The projects that have applied for federal funds are Southwest LRT, Bottineau LRT, the Metro Orange Line bus rapid transit along 35W, and the Metro Gold Line bus rapid transit in St. Paul.

  • Blaine Homeowners Reject Nation’s “First Certified Green Neighborhood”

    Posted by: Tom Steward on February 12, 2018
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    Solar power farms generally get built in rural areas, due to aesthetic and property value considerations. So Blaine residents were caught off guard last fall when Connexus Energy and city planners hyped a huge solar installation proposed next to their suburban subdivision as “the country’s first certified green neighborhood.” “If the project proceeds, the entire Sanctuary neighborhood will be powered by clean, renewable solar energy. That will be a first!” Connexus Energy Vice President Brian Burandt said in a November 30 letter to residents. “How will this benefit you? Your home will be served by 100 percent green energy for...

  • “Resist Trump” Racial Equity Program Pockets More Than 275k From MN Taxpayers

    Posted by: Tom Steward on December 18, 2017
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    Minnesota cities, counties and state agencies have spent more than $275,000 in taxpayer funds on a provocative racial equity program led by a national leftwing advocacy group that urges local governments to “resist Trump” and bases its training for public employees on the premise that government institutions and workers are inherently racist, whether they realize it or not. “The Alliance leads with race, with the recognition that the creation and perpetuation of racial inequities has been baked into government,” according to the Government Alliance on Race & Equity (GARE) website. “From the inception of our country, government at the local,...

  • Taxpayer and Ratepayer Subsidies Squandered as Suburb Dismantles Solar Project

    Posted by: Tom Steward on November 2, 2017
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    There were no dignitaries on hand, ribbons to cut or speeches on sustainability to commemorate the latest chapter in solar power at the Maplewood Community Center (MCC). Five years after a massive $310,000 subsidy from taxpayers and Xcel Energy ratepayers, the St. Paul suburb now has nothing to show for the supposed model renewable energy project—except for 216 obsolete solar panels and 198 reflector panels headed for storage and, more than likely, oblivion. The Maplewood Community Center’s rooftop solar system was one of dozens of green projects in Minnesota rolled out with little scrutiny under the 2009 federal stimulus program...

  • OLA Jim Nobles Releases Critical Met Council Transit Audit

    Posted by: Kim Crockett on October 4, 2017
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    “Metropolitan Council staff told us they use one set of assumptions (based on historical state and local funding) when preparing their federal transportation financial plans, and different assumptions (based on current appropriations law) when preparing internal reports and information for the Minnesota Legislature.” 

  • A Curriculum of Political Indoctrination in Edina’s Public Schools

    Posted by: Tom Mason on October 3, 2017
    Posted in:

      An investigation by writer Katherine Kersten released today exposes systematic political indoctrination of students in Edina public schools, beginning as early as kindergarten, all while the district’s long time reputation for academic excellence experiences a notable decline. The report, “Whose Values? Educational excellence threatened by ideology in Edina schools” appears in the Fall 2017 edition of Thinking Minnesota, the quarterly magazine published by Center of the American Experiment. Kersten, a writer and attorney, is a senior policy fellow at American Experiment. The magazine can be downloaded here. In addition to its usual circulation, the magazine will be delivered to...

  • 10,000 Cards Delivered to Gov. Dayton Demanding New PCA Election

    Posted by: Kim Crockett on September 28, 2017
    Posted in:

    Saint Paul, MN—Minnesota Personal Care Attendants (MNPCA), a coalition of home care workers and advocates, today delivered over 10,000 cards from PCAs across the state, demanding a union decertification election. The cards total three times more than the 3,543 PCAs who voted for unionization in 2014. SEIU Healthcare Minnesota established the union in a mail-in ballot, low voter turnout election with just 13 percent of the estimated 27,000 home-based PCAs in Minnesota. “Our impression after contacting thousands of PCAs around the state is that they just did not know about the election,” said Kim Crockett, Vice President at Center of...

  • Prominent DFL Donor, Key Figure in Corruption Scandal Commits Suicide in L.A.

    Posted by: Tom Steward on September 12, 2017
    Posted in:

    A prominent DFL donor and key witness in an unfolding Indonesian corruption scandal committed suicide last month after a nine-hour standoff with a SWAT team in Los Angeles. Johannes Marliem, a 32-year-old Minnesota businessman and philanthropist, shot himself in the early morning hours of August 10 in his rented home in the Beverly Grove neighborhood of Los Angeles. Marliem rose to prominence in Minnesota in 2013 with political donations to the Democratic Party and DFL causes that ultimately totaled more than $500,000. A native Indonesian, Marliem studied at the University of Minnesota, founding a Minneapolis marketing firm associated with an Indonesian...

  • Big Cuts Coming at MAPE State Public Employee Union

    Posted by: Tom Steward on September 8, 2017
    Posted in:

    The Minnesota Association of Professional Employees (MAPE) plans to slash its 2018 budget and revamp operations in anticipation of the fallout from a case that hasn’t even reached the U.S. Supreme Court—yet. For Minnesota’s largest state public employee bargaining unit, it’s not a question of if but when the high court takes up the so-called Janus case and strikes down mandatory union fees. As a result, MAPE will put a proposal before the union’s Delegate Assembly in two weeks to cut $1.4 million–more than 20 percent—from next year’s budget to offset an expected loss of members, dues and fair share...

  • Education MN Braces for Loss of Thousands of Members and Millions of Dollars

    Posted by: Tom Steward on August 31, 2017
    Posted in:

    The state’s most powerful public employee union—Education Minnesota—has quietly begun laying the groundwork to prevent the potential loss of thousands of members and millions of dollars, depending on the outcome of a landmark labor rights case widely expected to go before the U.S. Supreme Court next term. The pivotal case involves a public employee from Illinois named Mark Janus, who’s asked the high court to restore his First Amendment rights by reversing a 1977 decision (Abood v Board of Education) that established “fair share” union fees for public employees. If the Court takes Janus’ case and he wins, unionized public...

  • American Experiment Files Brief in Dayton Line Item Veto Case

    Posted by: Tom Steward on August 16, 2017
    Posted in:

    Center of the American Experiment has filed a “friend of the court” or amicus brief with the Minnesota Supreme Court in the line-item veto case between the current Legislature and Governor Mark Dayton. Governor Dayton used his line-item veto power in an attempt to force the Legislature to agree to another special session and to concede major policy changes he had already agreed to in negotiations and signed into law. The Center argued to uphold the ruling from Ramsey County District Court that found Governor Dayton’s attempt to defund the Legislature violated the Minnesota Constitution. “This case should be decided...

  • Right to Union Contact Lists Upheld by Minnesota Court of Appeals

    Posted by: Kim Crockett on July 27, 2017
    Posted in:

    The Minnesota Court of Appeals on Monday upheld a Ramsey County District Court order directing the Dayton administration to turn over an up-to-date list of personal care attendants to a group (MNPCA) opposed to union representation, clearing a legal hurdle to a campaign aimed at decertifying the SEIU Healthcare Minnesota bargaining unit. In order to force the election, MNPCA must garner signatures from 30 percent of a statewide PCA bargaining unit. But the 18-month long campaign has been stymied from the start by the Dayton administration’s lack of cooperation in providing accurate and timely lists of PCAs in Minnesota. As...

  • MN Education Dept. to Approve Radical Transgender School Guidelines  

    Posted by: Katherine Kersten on July 18, 2017
    Posted in:

    On July 19, a Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) council will vote on the adoption of a “transgender toolkit” for our state’s K-12 public schools. The tool kit pressures schools to allow transgender or gender non-conforming students to choose whatever bathrooms, locker rooms and athletic teams align with their “gender identity.” (pp. 9-10) Students can gain access to the facilities and teams of the opposite sex even if they are only “socially,” not “medically transitioning.”  (p. 4) But the toolkit does much more. For example, it threatens parental rights in an unprecedented way by encouraging schools to report parents who...

  • American Experiment urges High Court to Hear Mandatory Union Fees Challenge

    Posted by: Kim Crockett on June 7, 2017
    Posted in:

    Janus v. AFSCME could free all government workers in the U.S. from being forced to pay union fees as a condition of employment Public school teachers, state social workers and other public employees should not be forced to pay money to a union just so they can keep their jobs. That’s why Center of the American Experiment is urging the U.S. Supreme Court to hear Janus v. AFSCME. Janus v. AFSCME has the potential to finally end the decades-old requirement of forcing government employees to pay mandatory union fees regardless of whether they want to be represented by a union....

  • Report Shows Twin Cities Traffic Congestion Crisis is No Accident

    Posted by: Tom Steward on June 5, 2017
    Posted in:

    Twin Cities traffic congestion has reached the crisis point with metro area drivers stuck in traffic 47 hours per year on average compared to 12 hours in 1982. But instead of focusing on comprehensive congestion relief, the state agencies responsible for the transportation system—the Metropolitan Council and MnDOT–pursue policies that make the problem worse, according to a new Center of the American Experiment report. The 24-page report, “Twin Cities Traffic Congestion: It’s No Accident,” estimates the cost of wasted time, wasted fuel and increased pollution from commuters, delivery drivers and others stuck in traffic tie-ups totals nearly $4 billion a...

  • No Go! Southwest Light Rail Stiffed in Trump Budget

    Posted by: Tom Steward on May 23, 2017
    Posted in:

    President Trump’s 2018 budget released today contains bad news for the Met Council’s pet light rail project. There’s no funding for the controversial $1.9 billion Southwest Light Rail Transit line in the administration’s “A New Foundation for American Greatness” budget just unveiled. The spending plan follows through on previous  announcements by federal transportation officials that only transit projects with Full Funding Grant Agreements (FFGA) in place by October 2016 would receive funding. The proposed Southwest Light Rail line does not have such a funding agreement, leaving it ineligible for $929 million in federal construction funds under the new administration’s policy. Federal...

  • Transgender Toolkit for MN Schools Based on Controversial Obama Rule

    Posted by: Catrin Wigfall on May 22, 2017
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    A controversial transgender and gender nonconforming “resource toolkit” drafted by the Minnesota Department of Education’s (MDE) School Safety and Technical Assistance Council recently caught the attention of 67 Minnesota legislators. The 29 page document — “Toolkit to Ensure Safe and Supportive Schools for Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students” — purports to be a compilation of “best practices that schools can use” to address gender identity. The toolkit is based on a controversial Title IX transgender policy imposed by the Obama administration that is no longer in effect. MDE insists the package should be viewed as advisory in nature only. “The toolkit does not serve...

  • Lawmakers Spar Over Controversial Home Care Worker Contract

    Posted by: Tom Steward on May 9, 2017
    Posted in:

    It’s not often a hearing of the Subcommittee on Employee Relations packs the room. But the chambers were filled for a hard-hitting legislative session at the State Capitol on Monday that put the Service Employees International Union and their backers on notice. The message? No more business as usual when it comes to public employee union contracts considered for approval by state legislators. The abrupt change caught Democrats off guard. “I have served on this subcommittee as the longest serving member,” said Rep. Debra Hilstrom (DFL-Brooklyn Center). ” I have never seen what’s about to happen today happen in this subcommittee...

  • Federal and Local Funding Still in Doubt for Southwest Light Rail

    Posted by: Tom Steward on May 3, 2017
    Posted in:

    The sigh of relief by Met Council brass over a $10 million New Starts federal grant that keeps the Southwest Light Rail line on life support illustrates just how jittery the regional agency has become over the fate of the controversial $1.9 billion project. But the troubled line still faces significant obstacles in Washington and St. Paul that threaten to derail funding and approval of the project. The funding announcement became news as part of the federal budget deal reached by Congress over the weekend. Some initial reports gave the impression that Congress had fully funded the project and directed...

  • US Transportation Officials: No Federal Funds for Troubled Southwest Light Rail  

    Posted by: Tom Steward on April 22, 2017
    Posted in:

    Hold everything. Top U.S. Department of Transportation officials have informed Minnesota legislators the controversial Southwest Light Rail Transit line does not qualify for $928 million in make-or-break federal funding necessary for the Metropolitan Council to start construction as planned this year. The announcement came from the Federal Transit Administration in response to a letter from Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Daudt and 83 Republican state legislators who expressed concern over SWLRT’s “financial plan, potential environmental impacts, alignment and projected ridership.” Rep. Jason Lewis, R-Minn., has also urged FTA to reject funding. The FTA oversees the federal New Starts program that provides...

  • Is Southwest Light Rail Transit Line on the Ropes?

    Posted by: Tom Steward on March 30, 2017
    Posted in:

    The Met Council always expected the Southwest Light Rail Transit line to be on the short list in Washington—the short list for $895 million in federal funding for construction. Instead, the controversial $1.9 billion project has suddenly popped up on a different list of transit projects that the Washington Post warns “could be out of luck under the Trump Budget.” President Trump’s budget proposal zeroes out the New Starts program that funds light rail transit projects like SWLRT. “Future investments in new transit projects would be funded by the localities that use and benefit from these localized projects,” according to...

  • Is the Minnesota Commerce Department Out of Control?

    Posted by: Tom Steward on March 13, 2017
    Posted in:

    Most of what happens behind the scenes at state agencies stays behind the scenes. The gears of government grind on, leaving taxpayers little choice but to trust that officials act in their best interest. But three recent legal cases involving the Minnesota Department of Commerce have provided ammunition for critics of the entrenched administrative state and unelected regulators that run it. “Court opinions and other legal filings published in the past several months have afforded Minnesotans a stark look at the internal operations of the Minnesota Department of Commerce,” Rep. Tony Albright (R-Prior Lake) and Rep. Kelly Fenton (R-Woodbury) wrote...

  • Lawmakers Aim to Make the Met Council Accountable

    Posted by: Tom Steward on February 22, 2017
    Posted in:

    The Metropolitan Council still holds the title of the biggest, most powerful unelected regional government in the country bar none. But that would change under proposed legislation calling for local elected officials to replace political appointees of the governor as Met Council representatives. “This legislation brings more openness to the Metropolitan Council by aligning its membership with local elected officials, giving regular citizens more voice in the make-up of the council and the important policies it implements,” said Rep. Tony Albright (R-Prior Lake), author of HF 828. While the proposed legislative reforms were embraced by the agency’s critics as a...

  • City Debates Turning Down Grant in Latest Met Council Flap

    Posted by: Tom Steward on January 16, 2017
    Posted in:

    Shakopee could become the first city to reject a $32,000 Met Council planning grant this week in the latest sign of local governments’ mounting antagonism to the heavy hand of the nation’s biggest unelected regional bureaucracy over their affairs. “We are concerned about the direct connection of the Thrive 2040 Plan, Met Council’s housing policies and any housing goal plan, as it relates to the acceptance of this grant,” Mayor Bill Mars wrote in a recent email exchange with Met Council officials. Met Council staff have downplayed the rift. “I don’t think we have a ‘controversy,’ so much as a...

  • Cigarette Smuggling Soars in Minnesota After Big Tax Hike

    Posted by: Tom Steward on January 6, 2017
    Posted in:

    Cigarette smuggling has soared since Minnesota imposed a $1.60 per pack excise tax increase in 2013, propelling the state to fifth highest for the crime in a new Tax Foundation and Mackinac Center for Public Policy report. The study shows smuggled smokes accounted for more than a third of cigarettes–36 percent–consumed in Minnesota in 2014, leading to an estimated $313 million loss in revenue due to tax evasion and avoidance by so-called border shopping. “Minnesota’s big leap in the ranks of smuggling states is no surprise,” said Michael LaFaive, Mackinac Center Fiscal Policy Director and co-author of the report. “As...

  • Contractors Pressed to Shop Subcontractor Bids as MnDOT Misses Minority Goal Again

    Posted by: Tom Steward on December 22, 2016
    Posted in:

    A new MnDOT report shows the agency has again failed to reach its goal for minority and women-owned business participation on transportation projects for at least the tenth year in a row. This despite spending an estimated $10 million of taxpayer funds on training and recruitment to pave the way for the federally mandated Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program since 2007. The DBE program requires states to set goals for companies “owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals” for federally-funded MnDOT projects. But the latest numbers indicate DBE-qualified firms landed 8.5 percent of federally funded road construction contracts statewide...

  • SEIU and State Ordered to Halt Early Contract Talks in Boost for Decertification Drive

    Posted by: Tom Steward on December 5, 2016
    Posted in:

    The Minnesota Bureau of Mediation Services has ordered the suspension of contract talks between the Service Employees International Union representing personal care attendants and state negotiators to avoid interfering with a union decertification campaign underway. “This Order is issued to preserve existing conditions and promote a free and fair environment for the resolution of this question of representation,” said Carol Clifford, a BMS Representation Specialist, in a two page order dated December 5. “…It shall remain in full force and effect until an investigation and/or hearing has been conducted and the matter is disposed of by a determination issued by...

  • VA Spends 300k to Study Defunct St. Cloud Wind Turbine

    Posted by: Tom Steward on November 29, 2016
    Posted in:

    The Veterans Administration has been trying to get a wind energy project up and running at the St. Cloud VA Medical Center since 2007.  Almost a decade later, the 245 foot high wind turbine originally hyped as a national model by the White House is up but not running since 2012. The most notable results generated to date by the 93 ton renewable energy installation are a nearly $2 million loss for taxpayers and a black eye for the Obama Administration’s green energy agenda. Yet instead of mothballing the project and cutting taxpayers’ losses, the federal agency recently doubled down...

  • State Ordered to Turn Over List to Personal Care Attendants Fighting Union

    Posted by: Tom Steward on November 1, 2016
    Posted in:

    A Ramsey County Court has ordered the Minnesota Department of Human Services to stop stalling and turn over the names of thousands of personal care attendants to a coalition leading a union decertification drive against SEIU Healthcare Minnesota. Minnesota Personal Care Attendants (MNPCA), a coalition of personal care attendants who provide home-based care for the disabled recently sued three state agencies in an attempt to get an accurate and up-to-date contact list of home care workers to notify about the campaign. MNPCA is working to force a new election in hopes of decertifying the union that won a 2014 low...

  • MN Secretary of State Sued for Instructing Election Judges to Let Felons and Others Known to be Ineligible to Vote

    Posted by: Tom Steward on October 28, 2016
    Posted in:

    Minnesota Secretary of State and county election managers are being sued by election judges who claim the 2016 Minnesota Election Judge Guide requires them to violate state election laws. The lawsuits were filed today in Hennepin, Ramsey and St. Louis Counties by three election judges who are requesting an injunction relieving them from having to provide ballots to people who are listed as felons, people under guardianship and noncitizens. “It is important for all election judges to honor their election judge oath to adhere to Minnesota election law and allow only eligible voters to cast a vote,” said Andy Cilek,...

  • News Alert: To Save or Not to Save METS: That’s the Real Question for Counties

    Posted by: Tom Steward on October 7, 2016
    Posted in:

    Three years after a disastrous launch, the MNsure state health care exchange’s IT system (METS) remains so dysfunctional that county officials still struggling to implement it openly question whether the system should be scrapped. “The whole operability of the public program side is a complete, unmitigated disaster,” said Dakota County Commissioner Mary Liz Holberg. “After a while you just get numb,” said Pennington County Commissioner Darryl Tveitbakk. “…The administration of it has been a disaster.” “It’s been three years of incremental improvements, temporary fixes and manual work-arounds for public healthcare programs,” Hennepin County Board Chair Jan Callison told Gov. Mark...

  • Minnesota Supreme Court Protects Citizens from Unfair Taxes Disguised as Fees

    Posted by: Tom Steward on August 24, 2016
    Posted in:

    The Minnesota Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling today that declared a fee charged by the City of St. Paul to fund road maintenance was in fact a tax that was subject to the state constitution’s limitations on taxation.   The case was brought by two churches, the First Baptist Church of St. Paul and the Church of St. Mary, that had been paying excessive and unfair fees. “This case represents a victory for Minnesota taxpayers who deserve a fair, transparent and accountable tax system,” said Peter Nelson, a Vice President and Senior Policy Fellow at Center of the American Experiment...

  • Met Council to Spend $25 Million to Monitor Race-Based Use of Parks

    Posted by: Tom Steward on August 10, 2016
    Posted in:

    A walk in the park may be just that to most of us, but not the Met Council. It all depends on who’s taking a walk in the park. A remarkable 47 million visits to regional parks were recorded last year, more than visit the Mall of America. Yet the Met Council staff has concluded that some racial groups aren’t using the parks as much as their numbers suggest they should–and local governments get the blame. “Missing from the throngs of visitors were people of color in numbers proportional to their share of the region’s total population,” according to the...

  • Homecare Workers Mount Statewide Drive to Drop Union

    Posted by: Tom Steward on July 18, 2016
    Posted in:

    The Service Employees International Union that won the biggest public employee labor election in Minnesota history in 2014 now faces a statewide decertification campaign aimed at eliminating  collective bargaining for 27,000 personal care assistants. A group of PCAs today launched a drive to collect the required 9,000 signatures to force a follow-up election, reigniting one of the state’s most controversial political issues of recent years. A 2013 state law designates Minnesota home care workers as public employees subject to collective bargaining because they receive a Medicaid subsidy to care for family members and others with special needs. Homecare workers who join...

  • Rogue State Teaching Board Fined and Cited for Contempt of Court

    Posted by: Tom Steward on July 7, 2016
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    How many court orders does it take to compel state education officials to follow the law? A courtroom showdown over the serial intransigence of the Minnesota Board of Teaching has led to a rare contempt of court citation and $7,100 in penalties imposed on the controversial agency. Court transcripts show the Minnesota Board of Teaching and the Minnesota Department of Education not only snubbed a teaching license application request from plaintiff Joan Dobbert, but also a standing Ramsey County District Court order for the Board to expedite the process. “They’re not interested in following the law, they’re clearly not interested,”...

  • Widespread Voter Fraud Documented in New Minnesota Supreme Court Case

    Posted by: Tom Steward on July 1, 2016
    Posted in:

    A new voter fraud case before the Minnesota Supreme Court claims 1,366 ineligible felons have cast at least 1,670 fraudulent votes in recent statewide elections, possibly tipping the outcome of close contests, including the 2008 U.S. Senate race. The case holds repercussions for the 2016 election with the plaintiffs seeking a court order to prevent state and local election officials from distributing ballots to ineligible voters by implementing new safeguards. The lawsuit marks the culmination of a years-long effort to challenge suspected voter fraud tied to Minnesota’s same day voting registration law. More than half a million Minnesotans register to...

  • Suburb Backs Off Restrictions on Homeowners’ Rental Property Rights

    Posted by: Tom Steward on June 15, 2016
    Posted in:

    Brooklyn Center, Minn.—For the second time this year, a Twin Cities suburb has turned back a controversial proposal to curtail one of its residents’ fundamental property rights—a homeowner’s freedom to rent his house. Brooklyn Center had appeared poised to become the fifth Minnesota city to restrict property owners’ rental rights, joining Mankato, Northfield, West St. Paul and Winona. But the Brooklyn Center City Council on Monday unanimously rejected an ordinance that would have banned most property owners from renting out their homes by limiting rental licenses to 30 percent of houses per block. South St. Paul city councilors dropped a...

  • Taxpayers on Hook for $100k for City Council’s Lawyers in Open Meeting Violations

    Posted by: Tom Steward on June 8, 2016
    Posted in:

    Victoria officials expect taxpayers to foot the bill for up to $100,000 in anticipated attorneys’ fees for four city council members found liable in March for a combined 38 intentional violations of the Open Meeting Law.  But not if the citizen watchdog group behind the civil lawsuit can help it. “The City of Victoria should not pay private counsel to represent officials engaging in intentional and unlawful conduct like that proven here,” Alan Kildow, the citizens’ attorney, said in a May 25 letter. “The individual Defendants are not entitled to that personal benefit at taxpayer expense, particularly when the expense...

  • House Democratic Leader Called Out for “Pattern of Verbal Abuse” of Opposition Staff 

    Posted by: Tom Steward on June 3, 2016
    Posted in:

    It gets crazy in the waning hours of a legislative session. But House Minority Leader Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis has displayed “a disturbing pattern of verbal abuse of Republican Staff” on the House floor throughout the 2016 legislative session, according to a letter signed by seven GOP legislators. “Your verbal taunts occurred both on and off the record, but all were plainly visible to most in the House chamber. This is absolutely unacceptable behavior by any member – let alone a leader – of either caucus,” states a May 26 letter the legislators sent to Thissen. The blunt letter follows an...

  • Will Bloomington Ever Allow Residents to Vote on Trash Plan?

    Posted by: Tom Steward on May 31, 2016
    Posted in:

    They’ve garnered hundreds more signatures on their petition campaigns than five-term Bloomington Mayor Gene Winstead received in votes last November. But it remains to be seen whether the third and latest petition from the citizens group Hands Off Our Cans will be the charm or third strike in a year-long battle with City Hall to let residents vote on who should collect their garbage. Until now, residents of Minnesota’s fifth largest city have been able to select from seven garbage haulers. But the Bloomington City Council has moved to replace the system for “organized collection.” The issue at stake—freedom of...

  • Threat to Eagles Shuts Down Three Xcel Energy Wind Turbines for Months

    Posted by: Tom Steward on May 11, 2016
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    The eagle has landed in rural Mower County, shutting down three turbines at the Pleasant Valley Wind farm for a month so far in hopes of preventing a deadly collision between the federally protected bird and churning blades just 200 feet away. Xcel Energy discovered a pair of adult eagles and at least one eaglet high in a tree in a windbreak between two turbines near State Highway 56 and County Road 1 on March 10, immediately reporting the threat to federal Fish and Wildlife Service authorities. In addition to idling the turbines closest to the nest through the summer,...

  • Residents Criticize Environmental Impact of Solar Project  That Cut Hundreds of Trees

    Posted by: Tom Steward on May 2, 2016
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    Buffalo Township, Minn.–Residents of Buffalo Township are voicing concerns over the environmental impact of a solar power project they say has leveled hundreds of mature hardwoods and taken fertile cropland out of production 35 miles west of the Twin Cities. While it may be too late for Buffalo Township, the backlash has led to a moratorium on additional solar developments in Wright County. “A lot of people were not aware of what was happening yet. Now, it gets thrown in their back yard and all of a sudden it’s like, we’re not so sure about this,” said Don Schmidt, Buffalo Township Supervisor...

  • U of M Professor Bills $120 an Hour Plus Benefits to Study $15 Minneapolis Minimum Wage

    Posted by: Tom Steward on April 19, 2016
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    A University of Minnesota economics professor leading a study underway on a possible $15 per hour minimum wage in Minneapolis will be paid $120 per hour plus benefits under a contract approved by the Minneapolis City Council. Samuel Myers, Jr., Director of the Roy Wilkins Center for Human Relations and Social Justice at the University of Minnesota, will receive $19,000, plus $6,500 in benefits for an estimated 160 hours on the project, university documents show. Myers earned $183,000 in 2014, according to the Minnesota public salaries database. Two more participants in the study, including AFL-CIO Chief Economist William Spriggs, will receive...

  • Landmark Ruling as Court Finds Victoria City Officials Committed 38 Open Meeting Law Violations

    Posted by: Tom Steward on April 1, 2016
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    In what may be the biggest Open Meeting Law case in Minnesota history, a Carver County District Court has found four current Victoria City Council members committed a total of 38 intentional violations of the state transparency statute, leveling a total of $7,800 in personal fines. The civil case brought by 13 residents of the Twin Cities suburb alleged numerous violations of the Open Meeting Law by city officials in 2013 in the process leading up to building a new city hall and public works building. State law requires governmental bodies to open their meetings to the public for transparency...

  • State Agency Spending $350,000 to Implement Environmental Regulation Blocked by Supreme Court

    Posted by: Tom Steward on March 28, 2016
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    The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is spending hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to comply with controversial federal greenhouse gas regulations that have been temporarily blocked by the US Supreme Court and may never be implemented. Last month, twenty-seven states concerned about federal government overreach and the economic consequences of the Clean Power Plan successfully sued to stop the Environmental Protection Agency from enforcing the climate change regulations until their legal challenges are resolved. But MPCA officials responding to a CAE inquiry indicated the agency will spend more than $350,000 this fiscal year anyway, moving full speed ahead “reviewing and...

  • Child Care Providers Flatly Reject Unionization in Lopsided Vote

    Posted by: Tom Steward on March 2, 2016
    Posted in:

    PAUL, MINN.– After eleven years of facing labor organizers at their doors, Minnesota in-home child care providers overwhelmingly rejected union representation in an election decided today in St. Paul. “Providers have been saying ‘no’ to the unions for so long, it just feels so good that we’ve finally been heard,” said Lakeville provider Pat Gentz. Despite more than a decade of organizing, card campaigns and expenditures, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 5 garnered 392 votes, compared to 1,014 for providers opposed to the union. The margin of victory announced by Bureau of Mediation Services officials stunned...

  • DFL Lawmaker Bucks Nurses’ Union in Effort to Streamline Licensing

    Posted by: Tom Steward on March 1, 2016
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      Judy Santiago just wants a level playing field with the Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin nurses who compete with her. Minnesota has granted reciprocity to licensed nurses in neighboring states for ten years, allowing them to care for Minnesota patients, over the phone or in person, without requiring a Minnesota nursing license. But Santiago still has to buy a separate license to practice in each state, costing the Burnsville nurse time and money. “I know nurses who have 30 plus licenses in order to be able to work with patients telephonically,” Judy Santiago said. “That’s just ridiculous....

  • Farmer Runs for School Board That Sued Him for $2.9 Million

    Posted by: Tom Steward on February 23, 2016
    Posted in:

    A Gaylord chicken farmer plans to turn his campaign for school board into a teachable moment for the Sibley East Public Schools officials who asked a court to award $2.9 million in damages against him, as a result of his fighting a controversial $43 million bond referendum. After a Sibley County District Court denied the multi-million dollar claim in January, Nathan Kranz could have retreated to his chicken coop. Instead, he announced a bid to run in an April special election to serve on the school board that he says threatened his very livelihood. “I’m convicted in what I’m doing,”...

  • MNsure Enrolls Millionaires in Medicaid and MinnesotaCare Programs

    Posted by: Tom Steward on February 15, 2016
    Posted in:

    The Affordable Care Act was supposed to extend health coverage to millions—not millionaires. Yet while many families continue to struggle to afford medical insurance, some Minnesotans with millions in assets get free and low-cost subsidized health coverage through MNsure, the state health insurance exchange. “It’s happening all over the nation and all over Minnesota,” said Harlan Johnson, a Pequot Lakes health insurance broker and MNsure Health Industry Advisory Council member. “I’ve looked people on the MNsure Board of Directors right in the eye and told them this. They know it, but they don’t want to deal with it.” It’s a...

  • Stealth union election threatens to bind thousands of child care providers

    Posted by: Tom Steward on February 8, 2016
    Posted in:

    After fending off union organizers for a decade, Minnesota home-based child care providers face a make or break February election that could leave their businesses subject to collective bargaining and monthly dues. Yet most of the estimated 10,000 licensed and unlicensed child care providers statewide will not get a say in the issue, under the rules of engagement in a 2013 state law. “We were shocked to find out that they were limiting the election to a small group of providers who accepted a payment in one month, which we believe excludes thousands of providers,” said Jennifer Parrish, a Rochester...