FFM Bulletin 9/22/11

Senate to hold hearing on MN daycare unionization Thursday, 6 PM

Minnesota Senate leadership announced that they will hold a joint committee hearing this Thursday on the potential unionization of in-home daycare providers.

Gov. Mark Dayton announced last week that he is considering issuing an executive order to hold an election where the state’s 11,000 daycare providers would decide if they wish to be represented by the AFSCME-Child Care Providers Together and/or the SEIU-Kids First unions.

This timely hearing in Minnesota follows a Wednesday decision from Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy who used two executive orders that the Yankee Institute for Public Policy described as the first steps in moving toward forcing daycare providers to pay union dues, while taking away a secret ballot for the same providers.

The hearing on Thursday will feature committee members, affected childcare providers, advocacy groups, and members of the governor’s administration, according to a Senate media release.

On Tuesday, Gov. Dayton called the hearing a “waste of taxpayers’ money” and “political ploys.” House Speaker Kurt Zellers (R-Maple Grove) fired back, saying that the Legislature and the constituents they serve have questions over the legality of a daycare union executive order by the Governor.

The Senate hearing will be held at 6 PM in Capitol Room 15 and will be led by Health and Human Services Committee chair Sen. David Hann (R-Eden Prairie) and State Government Innovation and Veterans Committee chair Sen. Mike Parry (R-Waseca).

Controversial CenterPoint Energy pricing program creates more controversy

CenterPoint Energy has announced its support for the suspension of the Inverted Block Rate natural gas pricing system for the utility’s 715,000 ratepayers.  The tiered energy pricing program charges customers who use comparatively more energy an inflated rate for natural gas. This latest development follows significant pressure from consumers and Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson over the past year.

Yet, in a joint filing with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC), several environmental groups defended the premise of the program of charging some customers more than others for the amount of energy they use.  These groups, including the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy (MCEA), Izaak Walton League of America (IWLA), and Energy Cents Coalition (ECC), announced they will ask the PUC on September 28 at a PUC hearing to establish a working group to make modifications to the program and report back in 2012.

In the meantime, the pilot program would be suspended for the coming winter pending program changes, though the option would remain to reinstitute the pilot program next year.

Learn more about this issue from our previous research.

Brooklyn Center voters reject levy…again

For the eighth time since 2005, Brooklyn Center voters have voted down a levy referendum for the Brooklyn Center School District (ISD 286).  Voters defeated the levy that would have hiked property taxes to the tune of $66 million and provided an additional $590 of spending per student.
In the district that has become known as the “poster child for defeated levy referenda,” the levy was rejected 626 to 525.
But more interesting than the nearly 1,151 district-wide votes is the manner in which the vote was conducted.

In accordance with state law, the vote was held by mail. Each voter in the district was mailed a ballot that was due back by 8 PM Tuesday night.  Though this process is less common than the traditional method, residents should be on the lookout for their local districts possibly holding a referendum this way.

With more than a third of school districts in the state planning to ask residents for more money this fall, taxpayers from across the state will be seeking information about levy proposals and accountability from their school districts.  Be sure to contact us at: info@freedomfoundationofminnesota.com if you have questions or comments about your local government elections.

Anoka County Commissioners Buck Trend and Cut Spending and Taxes

The Anoka County Board of Commissioners announced last week that their 2012 budget would include a reduction of property taxes totaling $8.14 million, marking a 7.43 percent decrease from the previous year and the first time in 30 years that spending for the next fiscal year will be less than the current budget projections.

So how did they do it? Could other counties copy their template?  For starters, it’s important to note that significant budget reduction did not happen overnight, but instead has been in the works for the past year.

To learn more about the process that led to Anoka County’s historic budget,visit our website.


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