Where’s Erik Paulsen?

Our Representative in Congress hasn’t held a public town hall since September 6, 2011. There’ve been last minute meetings announced on social media shortly before they happen, tele-town halls where questions can be vetted before being forwarded, appearances at local businesses and school, robocalls that come to you saying he’s sorry you weren’t there to take his invitation to the tele-townhalls — but no traditional town hall.

It’s been 2,288 days since Rep. Paulsen’s last public town hall.

January CD3 DFL Gubernatorial Candidate Forum

Please mark your calendars and plan to join us for our next candidate forum:

What:  DFL Gubernatorial Candidate Forum

When:  Saturday, January 13, 2017, registration Starts at 8:30 AM, forum begins at 9:00 AM

Where:  Hennepin Technical College Auditorium, 13100 Collegeview Dr, Eden Prairie, MN 55347

Please submit your questions in advance here.  Deadline for submissions midnight, Sunday, January 7, 2018.

Action Alerts

Concerned about the outcome of the last election?  Want to get involved and help defend progressive values? We will be making periodic postings of ways you can get involved in a range of projects with various non-DFL organizations.  (DFL events are listed on our DFL In the Know posts.)

 Here are some upcoming events:

  • Today through December 23 — ACA Open Enrollment Period, visit MNSure.org to check out insurance plans if you need coverage for new options.
  • December 11, 3:30 PM — Meet and Greet with CD3 Candidate Adam Jennings, Eden Prairie Library, 565 Prairie Center Dr, Eden Prairie, MN 55344
  • December 11, 5:00 PM — Indivisible Plymouth Social Event with Dean Phillips, El Azteca, 3500 Vicksburg Ln N, Plymouth, MN 55447.  More information and RSVP here.
  • December 11, 5:30 PM — Secretary of State Steve Simon Birthday Fundraiser, LTD Brewing Company, 8 Eighth Ave N, Hopkins, MN 55343. To join the host committee or RSVP, please contact KristenMcMullen at mcmullen.kristen@gmail.com or 612.741.6647.
  • December 11, 6:30 PM — Chanhassen Indivisible Small Group, Powers Ridge Apartments Community Room, 1321 Lake Dr W, Chanhassen, MN
  • December 12 ,4:30 PM — Indivisible MN03 Defend Dreamers!, 7801 Xerxes Ave S, Bloomington.  More information and RSVP here.
  • December 14, 10:00 AM — Meet and Greet with CD3 Candidate Adam Jennings, Caribou Coffee Meeting Room, 4754 County Rd 101, Minnetonka, MN 55344
  • December 16, 10:00 AM — Meet and Greet with CD3 Candidate Dean Phillips, Champlin Library, 12154 Ensign Ave N, Champlin, MN 55316
  • December 16, 1:30 PM — Meet and Greet with CD3 Candidate Adam Jennings, Eden Prairie Library, 565 Prairie Center Dr, Eden Prairie, MN 55344 Read More

Donald Trump and Criminal Conspiracy Law

The following article by John Norris and Carolyn Kenney was posted on the Center for American Progress website December 7, 2017:

Introduction and summary

Credit: Justin Merriman/Getty Images

The scope of investigations by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and others into the activities of President Donald Trump, his campaign, and businesses is sweeping. Mueller is tasked with investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and any potential collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians. This mandate gives the special counsel ample imperative to study an array of links between Trump, Trump associates, and Russia, in a list of concerns that seems to grow by the day.

The pace and intensity of this investigation was only highlighted by the recent release of the indictment and guilty plea of Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, who admitted under oath lying to the FBI about his multiple contacts with Russians during the campaign, and acknowledged that the Russians informed him that they possessed “thousands of emails” hacked from Democrats well before any public knowledge of the fact.1 Papadopoulos admitted that he shared information about his Russian contacts and desire to broker meetings with the Russians with his Trump campaign supervisors. In addition, the special counsel indicted the former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort and his business partner Rick Gates on 12 charges related to a series of complex financial crimes that are alleged to have taken place both before and during the campaign.2 The indictment charges that the pair conspired to move more than $75 million, largely from a Ukrainian lawmaker who was a supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin, through offshore accounts and engaged in extensive money laundering; undertook a “conspiracy against the United States”; served as an unregistered agent of a foreign principal; and failed to file reports on their foreign financial and bank accounts.3

Read More

FBI director defends bureau’s integrity as GOP lawmakers press him on Trump, Clinton probes

The following article by Devlin Barrett and Ellen Nakashima was posted on the Washington Post website December 7, 2017:

During questioning from lawmakers on Dec. 7, FBI Director Christopher Wray responded to President Trump’s critical tweets from Dec. 3. (Reuters)

FBI Director Christopher A. Wray defended his agency’s integrity and independence in response to skeptical questioning Thursday from Republicans who repeatedly suggested its personnel are biased against President Trump.

Wray spent the morning being grilled at a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee about how FBI personnel — particularly a senior counterintelligence agent now the subject of an internal ethics investigation — handled sensitive probes of Trump and his former political rival, Hillary Clinton. Read More

What You Need to Know About the House Higher Education Act Bill

The following article by the Center for American Progress Postsecondary Education Team was posted on their website December 7, 2017:

In this February 1, 2017, photo, students walk between classes on campus. Credit: AP/Bebeto Matthews

Last week, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce unveiled its proposal for rewriting the Higher Education Act, the nation’s main law governing postsecondary education. The Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act is the beginning of an important conversation about what the future of learning beyond high school should look like in this country going forward.

Unfortunately, the bill’s vision of higher education is an emboldened industry at the expense of students. In a one-two punch, the bill would first eliminate key requirements that shield students from being taken advantage of while they’re in school, and then follow up by undercutting the safety net that prevents debt from ruining the lives of low-income borrowers. Similarly, the bill limits state efforts to oversee schools and loan servicers, and ties the U.S. Department of Education’s hands in conducting oversight work. Read More

Bump Stocks Get First Hearing in Senate, Dealt Another Blow in House

The following article by Griffin Connolly was posted on the Roll Call website December 7, 2017:

ATF has begun process to re-evaluate bump stock classification, lawmakers told

Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, held a hearing Wednesday that addressed bump stocks, making good on a promise after the Las Vegas shooting. Credit: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

More than two months after the Las Vegas shooting, the deadliest in U.S. history, the Senate Judiciary committee held a long-awaited hearing addressing the bump stock devices the shooter used to kill more than 50 people and injure hundreds more.

“ATF’s authority to regulate firearms is of course limited by the terms of [the 1934 and 1968 firearms laws], and they do not empower ATF to regulate parts or accessories designed to be used with firearms,” Thomas E. Brandon, the acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), told lawmakers.

For the ATF to legally regulate bump stocks under current legislation, the devices would need to be classified as “machine guns,” Brandon indicated.

legal review process launched this week to determine whether bump stocks fall within the definition of “machine guns” will take months. Read More

The most accurate climate change models predict the most alarming consequences, study finds

The following article by Chris Mooney was posed on the Washington Post website December 6, 2017:

The government’s National Climate Assessment cited human influence as the “dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.” (Patrick Martin/The Washington Post)

The climate change simulations that best capture current planetary conditions are also the ones that predict the most dire levels of human-driven warming, according to a statistical study released in the journal Nature Wednesday.

The study, by Patrick Brown and Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Stanford, Calif., examined the high-powered climate change simulations, or “models,” that researchers use to project the future of the planet based on the physical equations that govern the behavior of the atmosphere and oceans. Read More

Trump Jr. Rebuffs Questions At House Hearing

The following article from the Voice of America was posted on the National Memo website December 7, 2017:

Donald Trump Jr. refused to answer questions from lawmakers Wednesday about conversations he had with his father, then-presidential candidate Donald Trump, about his controversial Trump Tower meeting with Russian operatives in June 2016.

Trump Jr. avoided reporters and entered the Capitol through a back door before facing more than eight hours of questions from the House Intelligence Committee.

The committee is investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Attorney-client privilege cited

The committee’s top Democrat, California’s Adam Schiff, said the younger Trump answered most of their questions, but claimed attorney-client privilege when declining to comment about the meeting he had with the Russians. Read More

The GOP tax plan, state and local taxes deductions – and you

The following article by Capri Cafaro, Executive in Residence at American University, was posted on the Conversation website December 7, 2017:

The Capitol is seen at dawn on October 30, 2017, in Washington. Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite

While Washington is claiming victory, states are crying foul.

Late last week, the U.S. Senate passed its version of the tax reform package that cleared the House a few weeks earlier. Within the hundreds of pages of legislative language in each bill lay a number of provisions that have significant impact on state governments, including modifications to the state and local tax deduction.

Under current tax law, individuals who choose to itemize and deduct eligible expenses on their federal tax return are able to deduct state and local income, sales and property taxes. Both the House and Senate billseliminate the so-called “SALT deduction” for state and local taxes while capping the property tax deduction at US$10,000.

As a former Ohio state senator, I served on the Senate Ways and Means Committee for a number of years. I also went through five state budget cycles over 10 years. Because of that experience, I believe the federal changes to the SALT deductions will be detrimental to American families and have long-term negative impacts on balancing state budgets. Read More