Unions mus­cle up for 2018

Star Tribune - - MINNESOTA - J. PA­TRICK COOLICAN J. Pa­trick Coolican 651-925-5042 pa­trick.coolican@startri­bune.com Twit­ter: @jp­cooli­can

In a sign of how se­ri­ously it is tak­ing the 2018 elec­tion, Ed­u­ca­tion Min­nesota is up­ping its po­lit­i­cal ac­tion com­mit­tee dues by $10 per year. This may seem like a small amount, but if you con­sider the size of the union — more than 80,000 mem­bers — that means the teach­ers will have roughly $1.5 mil­lion more to spend dur­ing the 2018 elec­tion cy­cle.

Pub­lic em­ployee unions are wor­ried about full GOP con­trol of state gov­ern­ment: If a Repub­li­can wins the gover­nor’s race, that means the GOP would likely re­tain their House ma­jor­ity. Repub­li­cans also con­trol the state Senate, whose mem­bers don’t stand for elec­tion in 2018. Unions fear a Repub­li­can state gov­ern­ment would try to limit col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing rights, as Gov. Scott Walker has in Wis­con­sin, which se­verely weak­ened unions there.

Morn­ing Hot Dish:

Union par­tic­i­pa­tion — or lack thereof — will play a big role in de­ter­min­ing the DFL nom­i­nee.

Both sides are also look­ing at the 2020 cen­sus, af­ter which con­gres­sional and leg­isla­tive dis­tricts will be re­drawn. It’s es­pe­cially im­por­tant if, as ex­pected, Min­nesota loses a con­gres­sional seat. State GOP Chair­woman Jennifer Car­na­han was blunt about it at a fo­rum last week: “Why it’s so im­por­tant is, our gover­nor can­di­date will have the abil­ity to re­draw the district lines in 2020.”

Head to head on health care

U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen, who is vul­ner­a­ble on health care af­ter sid­ing with his Repub­li­can col­leagues on an Oba­macare re­peal bill that polled badly and is dead for now, saw an open­ing last week when Sen. Bernie San­ders re­leased his sin­gle-payer health care plan. Paulsen went af­ter his lead­ing Demo­cratic chal­lenger 14 months be­fore the elec­tion: “Where does Dean Phillips stand on the Bernie plan? I op­pose this gov­ern­men­trun health care plan,” Paulsen said in a state­ment. (Paulsen does not op­pose a dif­fer­ent gov­ern­ment health in­sur­ance plan called Medi­care.)

Phillips, a busi­ness­man and phi­lan­thropist, posted a video on Face­book say­ing: “I be­lieve that uni­ver­sal ac­cess to af­ford­able health care should be a moral right in this coun­try, and that should be our ob­jec­tive.”

He adds: “Tran­si­tion­ing to a sin­gle­payer sys­tem is one idea for how we get there, but it’s not the only idea. I want to pur­sue pol­icy so­lu­tions that en­sure greater com­pe­ti­tion among in­sur­ers and providers and — most im­por­tantly — lower costs for con­sumers.”

GLEN STUBBE • gstubbe@startri­bune.com

U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen, shown in 2015, made it clear last week that he op­poses Bernie San­ders’ sin­gle-payer health plan.

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