The Flag Ceremony

The meeting at Shooting Star Casino in Mahnomen was a huge success. I believe it put us in position for 2020. A highlight for me was the flag ceremony provided by the Ojibwe Veterans.

Healthcare Advocates Rally

Join Healthcare Advocates for a “Sunshine Rally” to Stop the Sunset of the Provider Tax!

Thursday, March 21, at 10 a.m., in the Minnesota State Capitol Rotunda,

The Land Stewardship Project organizes for healthcare for all because we know that the lack of affordable, high-quality care is a major barrier to our vision of thriving rural communities with more farmers on the land, and with people able to choose the work they want to do without worries about healthcare coverage. Every person deserves care, and it is our responsibility as people to work together through our government to ensure we have a healthcare system that meets everyone’s needs. We know we have lots of work to do to achieve this goal of major healthcare reform. But incredibly, right now some elected officials want to take us backwards and make the rural healthcare crisis even worse by creating a roughly $700-million-a-year hole in Minnesota’s healthcare budget.

Why the Provider Tax Matters:

Minnesota’s Health Care Access Fund is used to fund public health programs and healthcare for one million Minnesotans enrolled in Medicaid and MinnesotaCare. This money comes from a 2% tax paid by healthcare providers, a formula which has worked successfully since 1992, when it was created with bipartisan leadership and signed into law by Gov. Arne Carlson. But as part of a deal to end the 2011 state government shutdown, Republican leadership of the Minnesota House and Senate struck an agreement with Gov. Mark Dayton to set a December 2019 sunset date on the provider tax. Stopping the sunset would prevent an unnecessary budget catastrophe by simply continuing what has worked well for decades to ensure stable funding for Medicaid and MinnesotaCare. But unfortunately, some legislators are now trying to misrepresent what the provider tax is and what continuing it would mean. We need to make sure we continue investing this public money for the public good.

Join Us to Speak Up!

It’s time to send a loud and clear message to our legislators: stop the sunset of the provider tax! That’s why the This Is Medicaid coalition and other healthcare advocates are hosting a “Sunshine Rally” in the State Capitol Rotunda on Thursday, March 21, starting at 10 a.m. Click here for details. This will be an opportunity to learn more about why the provider tax is so important and let our legislators know that investing in healthcare matters to us.

We are pleased that Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan have made keeping the provider tax a key priority in their budget proposal. Click here to read an LSP commentary that has run in newspapers across the state describing the important steps forward in the administration’s plan. Stopping the sunset of the provider tax keeps our state on a stable footing from which we can move forward with greatly needed long-term healthcare reform, as well as short-term relief for the many Minnesotans facing unaffordable costs. The health and well-being of all people and of the land are interconnected, and we cannot thrive as a state if we cut our investments in the healthcare Minnesotans need.

We look forward to seeing you at the rally on Thursday, March 21. Please reply to this e-mail to let us know if you plan to attend, and feel free to contact us with questions or ideas.

Sincerely,

LSP Healthcare Organizers

Paul Sobocinski, Wabasso, MN, 507-430-1509, e-mail

Johanna Rupprecht, Lewiston, MN, 507-523-3366, e-mail

The Exodus of Rural Minnesota DFL Voters

By Pat Lunemann

At our Todd County DFL annual meeting held in March 2019, much of our time was spent analyzing why voters have largely abandoned the DFL party in Todd County, and also most of Greater Minnesota.  We were privileged to have John Koll, DFL chair in neighboring Douglas County, lead us in a PowerPoint presentation with statistics and ideas of what we can do to find solutions to make a comeback.  I agree with much of what John said, but believe that there is one key issue for rural Democrats that we will continue to have difficulty with, until we show separation from our urban DFL cousins.

In recent years, the urban DFL message has been driven by metro environmentalists, who are against modern farming methods, a belief that trees should not be harvested, and that mining is evil.  Those three industries happen to employ a sizeable number of us in greater Minnesota, and even if we are not directly employed, the impact on our community is sizeable.  So, an attack on those modes of business is a personal attack on the way we make a living. We have always heard about elections being about “jobs, jobs, jobs”.   If we don’t have one, or our ability to earn a living to feed our family is attacked, we just might have an opinion on the party that is behind that issue.

I believe that the historical rural Democrat has believed in responsible, environmentally friendly and sustainable agriculture, forestry, and mining.  What that is may be different things to different people, and we could debate this issue for years.  But my point is that the middle of the road voter, who traditionally voted DFL in Minnesota, now believes that the DFL party is not like us in our rural communities, and only carries water for those working against our way of life.

I applaud Governor Walz for his “One Minnesota” message.  The Governor understands we have a divide, and a need to bridge that gap. For that to happen, we need to have a two way dialogue between our urban and rural cousins to help us understand each other.  Our city cousins need to understand that in order for us to thrive in greater Minnesota, we need good jobs and business opportunities based on the resources we have. We, in turn, need to be supportive of city issues while doing a better job of communicating our issues to our metro brethren.

I remember fondly two of our legislators, who unfortunately left us too early.  Senator Dallas Sams, and Representative Mary Ellen Otremba, were true rural Democrats who reflected who their constituency was, and didn’t always agree with the party line.  Dallas was truly bipartisan on agricultural issues.  Some of his best friends in the Senate were Republicans, which meant that they could have friendly internal debate.  Mary Ellen was passionate about right to life issues.  At odds with her party, personally she believed she was right, and that it was right for her district.

Last, we need to decide what we are for, rather than what we are against.  If there is a problem, we need to be the party with common sense, fiscally sound solutions, that the middle of the road voter can identify with.  Pat Lunemann