Tag Archives: David Hann

Looking for a Republican suburban woman and other thoughts

MinnPost ran a story last week on prospective GOP candidates for Governor.  Of note in that story was a quote from prominent Republican operative Ben Golnik lamenting the fact that “the ideal candidate — a female from the suburbs” wasn’t out there.  As such, I found it interesting that the name of State Senator Julianne Ortman didn’t come up.  Ortman’s resume — in the Senate over a decade, former Deputy Majority Leader, a caucus leader on tax and legal issues — stacks up comparably against many of the other named contenders.  And she’s one of the Senate GOP’s better communicators, as evidenced by her continuing high profile despite not holding a formal leadership position anymore.

I have no idea if Ortman is interested in higher office — perhaps she’s signaled she’s not, which is why she didn’t make this piece.  But it seems that for many, the list of women available for statewide runs in the Minnesota Republican Party ends with Laura Brod now that Amy Koch is out of the Senate.

Given that the current list of prospective candidates all have significant question marks as it relates to their ability to either earn the Republican endorsement or win a general election — Sen. Dave Thompson might be too conservative for a statewide election, Rep. Kurt Zellers was widely criticized for his leadership (or lack thereof) last session as Speaker of the House, Sen. David Hann was an also-ran in the 2010 race for Governor, Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek has perhaps spent too much time on gun issues for the base’s liking, and Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson has already lost one statewide race (Attorney General in 2006) — it seems maybe the list of usual suspects should be expanded.  But, of course, I doubt the Republicans are looking to me for advice.

Here are some other things happening in the community:

  • In case you haven’t already heard, two new restaurants opened in Chaska in the last week or so:  BullChicks in Chaska Commons, and Egg & Pie Diner in downtown.  I’m hearing positive word-of-mouth on both.
  • The two facility taskforces convened by the Eastern Carver County School District continue to make progress.  The High School taskforce is wrestling with the question of balancing programming and demographics between Chaska and Chanhassen High Schools.  Meanwhile, the Early Childhood through Middle School task force is working on finding the best way to deal with overcrowded schools on the west side of the District as well as finding a permanent home for the La Academia Spanish immersion program.  I am a member of the Early Childhood through Middle School task force  and I can attest to the difficult challenges that lie ahead here.  Over the next few months, there will be opportunities for public input on potential changes — I encourage you to keep your eyes open and attend those sessions when they occur.
Advertisements

Dayton rolls out revised budget plan

Governor Mark Dayton rolled out his revised budget plan today, reflecting adjustments required after the February forecast trimmed the projected 2014-2015 budget deficit from $1.1 billion to $627 million.

Here are the key changes in the proposal compared to Dayton’s original budget:

  • All sales tax reform is removed from the budget:  no business sales tax expansion, no expansion of consumer sales taxes to services, and no reduction in the sales tax rate.
  • The $500 property tax refund has been removed, although Dayton does invest an additional $18 million in increasing the pool for the renter’s property tax refund.
  • The cut in the corporate income tax rate has been removed, but changes to eliminate tax breaks for foreign operating companies and foreign royalty payments remain in the budget, raising about $370 million.
  • The proposed school shift payback in 2016-2017 has been removed from the budget.  Dayton would continue with current law, paying back the remaining shift as surpluses come in.

Dayton’s spending plan remains essentially unchanged from his original proposal.

Legislative reaction fell as expected along party lines.  Democrats, many of whom were wary of Dayton’s business sales tax proposals, were more positive about this budget.

“For too long we have seen our budget deficits resolved by deep cuts to the middle class and one-time fixes,” said House Speaker Paul Thissen. “That approach has only given us more deficits, higher property taxes, and larger classroom sizes. It is high time we reject the status quo and build a budget that positions our state to thrive in the future.” (via kare11.com)

One point of contention among DFLers is likely to be Dayton’s failure to address the school shift.  Expect a DFL legislative budget that includes a partial shift payback.

Republicans, meanwhile, continue to call for the budget deficit to be closed by reducing spending.

“I think it’s time for the people of Minnesota to weigh in on all of the taxes and just ask the question, do you need high taxes to grow the economy? We don’t believe so,” said Senate Minority Leader David Hann, R- Eden Prairie. (via MPR)

GOP legislators have yet to introduce a budget proposal of their own, continuing a regrettable trend of legislative minorities choosing to complain from the sidelines instead of producing something that can be matched up side-by-side.

2013 Legislative To-Do List [UPDATED]

The 2013 legislative session kicks off next week, and there’s a long list of things that the newly-minted Democratic majorities should look at as their top priorities.

#1:  Fix the budget.  It’s long past time for the folks in St. Paul to get on with it and take care of the structural problems in the state budget.  No more stalling, no more half-measures, no more one-time fixes or gimmicks to solve this year’s $1.1 billion projected deficit.  This means:

1a.) Get a plan in place to pay back the school shifts.  My talks with local school district officials indicate that they are more interested in certainty at this point, so we need not necessarily pay back the entire $1.1 billion still remaining (this is on top of the $1.1 billion deficit) in one budget cycle.  A bipartisan commitment, though, to repaying $275 million a year for the next four years should be sufficient.

1b.) Real tax reform.  The elements required here are pretty simple, but the devil is in the details.  First, broaden the base of the sales tax by removing distorting exemptions on some categories of goods and services — it should be possible to broaden the base, lower the rate, and still end up revenue-neutral to revenue-positive.  Second, recognize that the sales tax changes are regressive, so cut income taxes on lower- and middle-income taxpayers.  Third, remove unnecessary tax expenditures (credits and deductions) that essentially function as handouts via the tax code.  This should free up additional revenue that can be applied to across-the-board rate reductions in both the individual income and corporate income taxes.  And that’s all before addressing our overly complex property tax system.  It may be too much to ask legislators to fix that in 2013, too, but we can hope.

1c.) Accountability in state spending.  State government needs to do a much better job of measuring effectiveness of state programs, and requiring reforms for programs that don’t measure up.  Additionally, there are programs that just aren’t needed any more.  It’s time to end them, now.  That said, we should be wary of sound-bite proposals like legislative Republicans proposed last session that imposed across-the-board cuts without an analysis of the work required.

#2:  Improve the job-creation environment in the state.  An odd-year bonding bill seems unlikely at this point, but the Legislature can take some concrete steps to improve conditions for job creation in the state.  A commitment to infrastructure is paramount.  For starters, the legislature can begin indexing the gasoline tax to inflation in order to maintain its buying power. (Minnesota’s gasoline tax, even with the increase passed after the 35W bridge collapse, has less purchasing power than it did 20 years ago and our road and bridge construction needs are much more significant.)  Renewing our commitment to our public universities is vital as well.  Even though enrollment is up 23,000 over that time, funding for the University of Minnesota system and MnSCU has declined back to Ventura Administration levels.  This is a significant factor in the doubling of college tuition over the last decade.  In return, those institutions should provide concrete plans on how they can reform their operations and become more efficient.  The U of M, in particular, has some administrative bloat that needs to be addressed.

#3:  Support implementation of the Affordable Care Act.  Minnesota’s health insurance exchange, required as part of the Affordable Care Act, is scheduled to go live in October to enable enrollment in plans starting on January 1, 2014.  It is critical that the Department of Commerce have the necessary resources to finish development and provide ongoing support for the exchange.

#4:  Government accountability, campaign finance and election reform.  There’s a gaping hole in the finance disclosures that our elected officials have to provide.  If they work as an independent contractor or consultant, legislators don’t have to disclose who they work for.  That’s a problem, as demonstrated during the campaign in the case of Senator David Hann.  Unlike some, I don’t have a problem with Hann chairing the committee with critical oversight on health insurance while being licensed to sell it.  But I do have a problem with not knowing who’s paying Hann’s salary outside of the Capitol so I can fairly judge his actions in the legislature.  Same goes for anyone else.  It’s time to require folks in those categories to disclose who they’re getting paid by (over a limit, say $2,500).  From a campaign finance perspective, it’s time to bring some additional sunshine into the process and require additional disclosures.  I would recommend moving to a four times per year model (quarterly in odd years, then Q1, pre-primary, pre-general, and year-end in even years).  Finally, even though the Voter ID constitutional amendment failed, there are things that can be done in the realm of election law to improve perceptions of fraud incidence and improve access to the polls.  Such provisions should include the introduction of early voting (how about the two Saturdays before Election Day), automatic voter registration of holders of drivers licenses and identification cards, and a close look at the electronic poll book concept as an alternative to voter ID requirements.

Certainly, these won’t be the only items that come up — social issues like a push for recognition of same-sex marriage will undoubtedly be discussed (and eventually, I believe it should and will be passed) — but these are what should be at the top of the list.

[UPDATE, 1/4]:  Let me clarify a few points regarding Hann’s relationship with Boys & Tyler Financial.  Hann has completed his licensing requirements with the state of Minnesota, but has not been enrolled as an agent by an insurance company.  Until that has been completed, Hann cannot sell insurance in the state.  Hann works on a contract basis with Boys & Tyler, and claims to earn no compensation for that relationship. (Under current law, Hann would not be required to disclose any income earned on a contract basis.)  This seems to be an arrangement designed to fight efforts at disclosure, and leads me to believe that all contract employment/consulting relationships should be disclosed instead of those surpassing the dollar limit originally indicated in the post.

[State Capitol picture courtesy of Minnesota House of Representatives Public Information Services.]

Redistricting maps revealed: Eastern Carver County to CD 3; Chanhassen split into two State Senate districts [UPDATED]

[UPDATE:  State legislative details were originally incorrect.  They have now been corrected.  Additional maps showing the boundary of the part of Chanhassen in SD33 have been added as well.]

The redistricting maps were just released a few minutes ago.  Here are the key takeaways for Carver County:

From a Congressional perspective, eastern Carver County (Chanhassen, Chaska, Victoria, and Laketown Township) are now part of the Third Congressional District, with current incumbent Rep. Erik Paulsen (R – Eden Prairie).  The rest of Carver County is now part of the Sixth Congressional District.  Rep. Michele Bachmann is the current incumbent in the Sixth, but Bachmann’s Stillwater residence in not in the new Sixth, so she will have to decide whether to move to the new Sixth or challenge Rep. Betty McCollum in the Fourth Congressional District.  [UPDATE:  Bachmann will run in the Sixth.]  Rep. John Kline no longer represents any part of the county.

The area highlighted in red is now part of CD 3.

From a state legislative perspective, northeast Chanhassen is being combined with much of the Lake Minnetonka area in the new Senate District 33 with retiring Sen. Gen Olson (R-Minnetrista) and Rep. Steve Smith (R-Mound) as the current incumbents.  The boundary of the area in SD33 is the area north of MN-5 and east of MN-41, as shown in the map below.

The rest of Carver County is the new Senate District 47 with Sen. Julianne Ortman as the incumbent.   The rest of Chanhassen, northern Victoria, and Chaska combine to make House District 47B with Rep. Joe Hoppe as the incumbent.  The remainder of the county is House District 47A, with Rep. Ernie Leidiger as the incumbent.

New legislative map for Carver County

Under 2010 Census results, it was inevitable that Carver County would be split up into more than one Senate district — the County’s rapid population growth over the last decade dictated that.

WCCO: Koch Allegedly Had Inappropriate Relationship With Staffer, Plus Other GOP Bad News [UPDATED]

WCCO’s Pat Kessler is reporting that Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch resigned her post Thursday after she was confronted by GOP Senate leaders about allegations of an inappropriate relationship with a Senate staffer, according to high level State Capitol sources.

This would be a sad ending to the story, if true.  Although I can’t say I agreed with Senator Koch on many issues, she was a capable leader of the Senate Caucus and seemingly had built a strong relationship with Governor Mark Dayton.

[UPDATE, 2:55 Friday]:  Headline updated to reflect the fact that the relationship is alleged at this point.

An interesting note from the WCCO story is that four Senators apparently confronted Koch on Wednesday.  One has to wonder if Chanhassen’s Julianne Ortman was one of them.  Ortman, as chair of the Tax Committee was an important leader in the caucus.

[UPDATE #2, 3:10 p.m.]:  At a Capitol press conference, it is reported that the four Senators in the meeting with Koch were Sen. Geoff Michel, Sen. David Hann, Sen. David Senjem, and Sen. Chris Gerlach.  Gerlach says Koch did not admit or deny the relationship.

[UPDATE #3, 3:30 p.m.]:  Michel reports that the staffer allegedly involved is a direct report.

Also, it’s interesting to note the very real divergence between what was said yesterday and what was being said today.  Even though Sen. Hann was in the meeting with Koch on Wednesday, he said yesterday that the resignation was a “total surprise”, even though the four Senators in the meeting all reported today that Koch brought the topic up.

Koch, as well, chose to provide a spinned account of events as well, saying that there was no hidden agenda behind her decision.  But, I guess that’s not really a surprise — that’s the pattern for politicians of all stripes who get caught in this sort of thing.

[UPDATE #4, 4:00 p.m.]:  The rough day for the GOP gets rougher.  Party Chair candidate Brandon Sawalich was arrested yesterday for having a vehicle with expired tabs.  Today, he withdrew from the race after it was revealed the AP was pursuing allegations of a sexual harrassment claim that Sawalich settled in 2003.

Meanwhile, U.S. Senate candidate Joe Arwood revealed he was convicted in 2005 of attempting to go through airport security with a loaded handgun.

And, State Senator Mike Parry is planning a press conference later this hour.  Parry is running for the U.S House in District 1 and his campaign manager is Michael Brodkorb, who also works as the Executive Assistant to the Senate GOP Majority Caucus.

[UPDATE #5, 6:20 p.m.]:  Sen. Parry canceled his press conference.

[UPDATE #6, 9:15 p.m.]:  MPR is reporting that Michael Brodkorb is no longer employed by the GOP Senate Caucus.

[UPDATE #7, Saturday 3:40 p.m.]:  Brodkorb has left the Parry campaign, per the Pioneer Press.


%d bloggers like this: