The State of the GOP

In July 2013, the Minnesota GOP was declared one of the most dysfunctional state parties by Roll Call, which is somewhat surprising considering that only three years have passed since the GOP held control of the Minnesota State Legislature. Then again, the abrupt fall from power may be a sign of the exact dysfunction which Roll Call identifies. Between financial woes and ideological rifts, Minnesota’s GOP has managed to lose a significant majority rule in less than four years and has caused significant damage to the party infrastructure  in the process.
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The New Fracking Debate

In Southeastern Minnesota, the benefits and consequences of silica sand mining are at the center of a growing debate. In particular, the area surrounding Saratoga Township in Winona County is now a hot bed of controversy as the county has recently approved the first silica sand mind following the expiration of a moratorium on such operations. As the Nisbit Mine comes online, silica sand mining will likely re-emerge as an important issue in the region.
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Wage Increase Stalls in Minnesota Legislature

Gridlock. The Minnesota State legislature is stalled on a bill, originally presented in the House, that would raise the state minimum wage to $9.50 an hour, while indexing that wage to inflation. Proponents, comprised of a coalition of labor, anti-poverty organizations, and a majority of the DFL in both houses, argue that the bill would take significant steps towards lifting low income families out of poverty, while also reducing state expenditures on social welfare programs. Those in opposition fear that a hike in the minimum wage could slow state job growth, ultimately hurting the very families that the legislation attempts to help.
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Shakeup in the Third

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Don Shelby

Rumors began circulating this week of a potential bid for Congress by Don Shelby to represent Minnesota’s 3rd District. Shelby, a former TV anchor and news reporter for WCCO, has yet to confirm or deny the stories, yet the potential of his candidacy has many on the left excited and rightfully so. Minnesota’s 3rd District has long escaped the DFL. However, the margin of Republican control in the 3rd has narrowed in recent years and a strong candidate on the left could be what finally tips the  district blue.
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Costs at University Increasing Despite Tuition Freeze

In 2012, over fourteen thousand students at the University of Minnesota took out a subsidized Stafford loan which is the most common federal student loan available to help finance their educations.  Combined, these loans amounted to a total of approximately $54 billion dollars. During that same year, the average student at the U of M graduated with over $27,000 in debt, according to the University’s One Stop Student Services.[1]
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Land of 10,000 Taxes

This past legislative session in Minnesota has made the Land of Ten Thousand Lakes feel more like the Land of Ten Thousand Taxes. With the help of the DFL-controlled legislature, Governor Mark Dayton signed into law two notable new tax increases; an excise tax on cigarettes and an increase in the state income tax. The purpose of these new taxes is to close the current budget deficit and provide money for new spending projects making the 2.1 billion dollars in expected revenue seem necessary. Meanwhile, many Minnesotans are likely thrilled that the bracket for tax increases applies only to the top income earners. However, it is unfortunate that our representatives fail to look beyond their uninspired party slogans. It may seem “fair” to tax the state’s top income earners, but the repercussions of this new taxation on our state’s economy may end up hurting every Minnesotan, regardless of who has their taxes increased.
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Rybak Recap

In 2001, the people of Minneapolis elected RT Rybak as their Mayor. Although Rybak had never held an elected position before, the city’s faith in the political newcomer was well founded as Rybak went on to earn consistently high approval ratings and overwhelming margins of reelection in 2005 and 2009. After 12 years as mayor, Rybak will not be running for re-election in 2014 and as he leaves office, he has a long list of accomplishments upon which to reflect . From his Step Up Summer Jobs Program to recruiting Allina and Global Market to the Midtown Exchange, here is a recap of some of Mayor Rybak’s biggest contributions to his city:
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Bachmann’s Next Chapter

Although she already announced her intention to not seek re-election to represent Minnesota’s 6th district, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann remains poised to have a powerful impact in future state and national politics. For now, she is saddled with resolving some  legal challenges and debt from her 2012 presidential campaign and last week’s arrest of one of her legislative aids in DC on charges of theft doesn’t make the path to a legacy immediately clear; However, her largest asset, a large campaign war chest, is well preserved and may help Bachmann weather the current storm and reemerge to retain her role as a powerful player in Minnesota politics.

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Minnesotans United Prepares for 2014

In 2012 and 2013, the Minnesotans United for All Families campaign played a vital role in both defeating a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and later supporting the legislation that legalized same-sex marriage here in Minnesota. Now in 2014, Minnesotans United is turning to the next front and has become a political action committee in order to defend and re-elect legislators that supported same-sex marriage.
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METRO Expansion is a Worthy Cause

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The Blue Line, formally Hiawatha Line: the first METRO light rail route.

In the summer of 2004, the Twin Cities metropolitan region welcomed the reintroduction of commuter mass-transit by rail with the opening of the “Hiawatha Line”, a light rail system which provided access to 19 stations stretching from Target Field in northern Minneapolis to the Mall of America in Bloomington. Although controversial when $715 million was initially allocated to the project, including $100 million from the state budget, the Hiawatha Line has repeatedly met its goals for ridership over the last decade and although not generating a large profit, the light rail now provides 10 million rides on an annual basis.
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