I participated in the Burnsville Chamber’s Pre-Legislative Forum on Thursday, Feb. 20. Representative Mogan, Representative Myra, Senator Carlson, and Senator Hall were also on the panel.
The first question was on federal tax conformity. Last year, the legislature passed HF6 which conformed Minnesota’s taxes to most federal taxes for tax year 2012-for those paid by April 15, 2013. The DFL House Omnibus Tax Bill did a provision to address federal conformity for future years, but that did not have Senate approval and was not in the final tax bill. This year, House Tax Chair Ann Lenczewski has introduced HF 2106 that conforms the state’s income tax to federal taxes and provides tax relief to middle-class taxpayers and businesses.
The bonding bill received attention as well. The Burnsville Chamber had supported the bonding bill last year. The bonding bill covers projects for buildings, roads, bridges, and other projects that have regional or statewide importance. The Governor’s bonding proposal invests an additional $126.3 million to finally complete state Capitol restoration process. The Capitol is one of Minnesota’s most important assets and the need for repair has been obvious for decades. I am advocating for a bonding proposal for a necessary project to improve the Red Line BRT. Interest rates are still fairly low, so this is a very good time to have a large bonding bill. It enhances assets for Minnesota and it means JOBS.
There was also spirited discussion on a minimum wage bill and some of the business-to-business taxes.
Last night, I saw the THE BALLAD OF EMMETT TILL at the Penumbra Theatre. Cold as it was outside, there was a packed house inside. This is a story about a fourteen-year old boy from Chicago that was murdered in Missisissippi in 1955. The story and the performance do an outstanding job of portraying the life of a young man that had such a tragic ending.
What is impossible to comprehend is that the murderers seem to think they had a right to kill Emmett Till. The confession in LOOK magazine details their actions and reasoning. In spite of the progress we have made in the civil rights area, the chilling reality is that we still have these outrageous acts still happening. How long before we can all live together in harmony and respect the rights of others?
Restore the Vote MN is a coalition who wants to restore voting rights to people living in our communities who have lost that right due to a previous conviction . This is a broad coalition that involves organizations providing public safety and legal services, faith based organizations, and civic engagement groups. For more information, see: www.RestoretheVoteMN.org
There are many reasons to do this. One being that it will clear confusion as to who is eligible to vote.
The second is that it will help with integration into the community. Restore the Vote Minnesota says that research has shown that persons with criminal convictions in their past are less likely to be arrested again in states that restore voting rights after their release from incarceration than in states where they face permanent disenfranchisement. It encourages a sense of responsibility.
From a long-range perspective, children are more likely to vote as adults if they are raised by parents who engage in the voting process.
To summarize, the change will make the law more clear and save resources, encourage participation in the democratic process, and will help create safer and more just environments.
The Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women held a Memorial Service today for those who lost their lives as a result of domestic violence last year. In 2013, at least 37 Minnesotans lost their lives and their names were each read aloud to acknowledge the loss.
Anarae Schunk and Palagor Obang Jobi were two of the people recognized.
As part of the Clothesline Project, a decorated shirt for each person was on exhibit. This program has been going on for years and the shirts are shown in communities throughout the state as a reminder of the lives that have been so tragically ended.
As a community and as a state, we have to work on ways to prevent these violent crimes.
For information on MCBW, see www.mcbw.org
I attended the performance of A TOAST TO PROHIBITION at the Minnesota History Center yesterday afternoon. It was a musical program with songs related to temperance and temptation. It was a entertaining and educational. While the program was in progress, historical photos and newspaper articles were shown on the screen that was at the back of the stage. Some interesting facts include: Congress passed the Volstead Act in 1919, which established the government’s right to investigate and punish violators of Prohibition (Volstead was from MN); in 1925, Collier’s magazine ranked San Francisco and St. Paul as the two “wettest cities” in the nation; and a statistic from 1926 estimated that 100 Americans died each week from toxic alcohol.
Dan Chouinard, Maria Jette, and The Rose Ensemble were some of the performers and they all did a great job. I saw many of them in CAFE EUROPA last year and that was outstanding. The research involved in these productions is impressive as is the musical talent.
I attended the Feed My StarvingChildren Celebration of their Eagan Site Expansion this afternoon. In addition to a video about the history of the organization, the CEO, Mark Crea, commented on some of the activities that were coming up, and we had a tour of the facility. The number of meals that have been prepared by this organization is amazing. They have some mobile packs and the percentage of meals prepared by the mobile packs is projected to increase.
One staff person told us about the work being done in the Philippines. They had food on the way to the Philippines prior to the landing of the recent Typhoon Haiyan. A video showed some of the workers in a community telling the survivors that there was enough food for all and there was no need to panic.
This organization seems to do well in attacting volunteers and partnerships. The statistics show that they have an excellent record of getting the food delivered with the help of partnerships they have formed. Check out their website for more information, fmsc.org
In spite of all the problems and challenges we face daily, we who live in the United States of America have much for which to be grateful. Regardless of religion, Thanksgiving is one day in which we can all take time to meditate and count our blessings. It is a good time to extend gratitude those who have helped us personally or helped our community.
Our church holds a Thanksgiving Eve service. One of the highlights of the service is the music during the offering because all past and present choir members gather at the front to sing, and that is almost half the congregation.
The refrain of that song tonight was:
Praise to thee, O Lord of all creation. Give us thankful hearts that we may see All the gifts we share and every blessing, All things, come of thee.
The State of Minnesota Veterans Day Event was celebrated at the Veterans Memorial Community Center in Inver Grove Heights. There were veterans in attendance who have served our country in many different ways and in different places, it is very interesting to listen to the details of their experiences.
Dick Carroll [left], an Eagan resident and a POW from World War II was there. I had the privilege of serving on the Eagan Parks Commission with Dick. He has been active in our community for many years and we are fortunate that his involvement continues.
Governor Dayton was there to give the keynote address. Other officials, including U. S. Senator Amy Klobuchar and U.S Representative Betty McCollum, were in attendance to express their gratitude for the service and sacrifice by those who served our country in the past as well as those currently serving in the military.
One comment that sticks in my mind is that we should remember those that have served their country every day. Many have returned with injuries and other issues that require daily attention, and our charge is to help. It is our way of honoring the sacrifices that were made.
Miss Minnesota 2013, Rebecca Yeh, played a moving rendition of “God Bless America” on her violin. Here are several pictures from the event.
The 34th ID “Red Bull” Band Brass Quintet provided the music for the event including “Taps” at the close of the program.
This was a great way to observe Veterans Day!
On Thursday evening, November 14, the Burnsville Police Department held a community meeting at Mary, Mother of the Church to address concerns about crime in the community. Hundreds of people filled the church that evening.
Burnsville Police Chief, Eric Gieseke, gave the opening remarks. Then Dakota County Attorney, Jim Backstrom, talked about crime trends in Dakota County. Drew Evans of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension followed up with remarks on crime trends statewide.
There were about a dozen people who came forward with comments or questions from the floor. One gentleman had some statistics on bail procedures and he felt that bail for recidivists needs to be examined. The bail issue was also raised by others. The County Attorney responded that the Minnesota Constitution prohibits the denial of bail. Another resident wanted to have more access to the location of criminals in the community. Substance abuse was another topic that was brought up.
A young man who lives in the River Hills area read a statement in which he strongly supported the Burnsville Police. He said it was impossible for 75 officers to closely watch 60,000 people and encouraged people in the community to step up when they see something going on.
Once the meeting was closed, the discussion continued as people talked in small groups for quite some time afterward.
On Friday evening, Pilot Knob Elementary School in Eagan held its Fall Family Dance. Students and adults were encouraged to come in costume. In addition to a parade to show off the costumes, there was a lot of music, dancing, and shouting. Disc jockeys played energetic music and kept the students moving and shouting. Adults were also seen on the floor keeping pace with the students. Lots of creative costumes and some familiar favorites like a pirate, Super Mario, and Harry Potter.
This is the second year that they have held this event and it sure looks likes it could be a tradition. Here’s a fun photo I took with a box of crayons!