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Archive for the ‘Tim Walz’ Category

After a day of  zipping around the packing house on my forklift, moving pork to its intended destination, I like to come home and relax and then see what Ollie Ox has to say at A Bluestem Prairie. Today I was a little shocked and saddened to read that Bluestem Prairie will be on hiatus until June 1. In a short post Sally Jo Sorensen announced:

 

“After posting at this blog for 2 years, 8 months, we’re feeling the need to spruce up the joint. Bluestem will be shuttered after today until June 1, when the blog will return as a venue for nonfiction essays…”

I and many others across the 1st District will miss her vigilant updates on  Congressman Tim Walz and her extensive recaps of the political news in the district. Sally also has kept an eye on the MSM and was not hesitant to remind them to get the facts straight.

This fall I had the privilege to meet the one and only Ollie OX at the annual Turkey Day celebration in Worthington and was honored to be her ‘union goon’ for the day. Although the vultures were circling overhead, we did manage to have some good discussion about blogging and politics.

We look forward to reading her new stuff on June 1 and hope she still has time for birding and gardening.

Cheap Trick says it all…

Peace & solidarity,

CHC

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Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District Congressman Tim Walz drove to the end of the world district today (a few minutes more and he would have been in South Dakota)  for a listening session about the economic stimulus package recently passed the the U.S. House of Representatives. One of several throughout the 1st district over the last couple of days, the event in Luverne was well attended. walz-luverne-jan-30-09-aLocal elected officials, school administrators, business people from the private sector, ag interests, social workers, organized labor and concerned citizens were there to hear what the congressman had to say and to ask questions and share their concerns.

Congressman Walz was straightforward about the seriousness of the

Congressman Walz making a point.

Congressman Walz making a point.

economic crisis we face as a nation as well as the pros and cons of the stimulus package. He would have preferred more infrastructure spending (as do I) but also touted the fact that the transparency measures are unprecedented. The congressman and his staff received valuable input on projects from the assembled crowd and will use that information to pass on to state government officials who will eventually receive the stimulus money and be tasked with its distribution. They will also use the information gathered today in Luverne and from previous listening sessions to help shape the final look of the stimulus package. The Senate will deal with the legislation next and eventually the two legislative bodies will have to reach an agreement on the final package. Representative Walz  says this will all be done by February 15 but there is still time for citizen input.  A Bluestem Prairie has a summary of the plan posted here.

I continue to be impressed with the Congressman’s willingness and eagerness to constantly get out and meet with the people he represents. There may be more voters  in Rochester and Mankato but he also came to Luverne because he sincerely wants to represent all the people of the 1st District.

walz-luverne-jan-30-09-b

 

Oh, just one more thing. My youngest of five grandchildren, at 11 months, had his first face to face meeting with a congressman. It was a proud moment.

what-do-you-mean-ive-got-to-pay-for-this-mess

 

Peace & solidarity,

CHC

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Since I will be dedicating my time to GOTV efforts my ability to provide content on this blog for both of my readers will be curtailed. I do have a number of recommendations for the faithful.

For news and views about southern Minnesota and the 1st CD’s Tim Walz, the first place I go to is A Bluestem Prairie. Ollie Ox keeps the stories coming and provides facts and insight on politics in the 1st CD. Ollie also keeps a watchful eye on the MSM and does not hesitate to tell ‘the rest of the story’.

Charlie Quimby provides an an eclectic mix of content at Across The Great Divide. From reviews of lemonade stands and bar cuisine, commentary on biking (the kind of biking as my mother used to say, “you pedal you legs off to give your ass a ride”), and short, powerful essays on the economy, there is always something interesting for the reader. His serious stuff is at Growth and Justice.

McPherson Hall always provides thoughtful, well researched analysis and commentary on legislation, public policy and candidates at Minnesota Central.

Some of my other favorites include Blog of the Moderate Left, Mercury Rising, Liberal in the Land of the Conservative, BlueMan in a Red District, Tild, and The Mississippifarian.

All progressive or Lefty Blogs but if you want to read what others have to say in Minnesota go to Blognetnews/Minnesota for a line up of left, right and everything else on the blogosphere.

Check the blogroll to the right for others that I frequent.

Well, that was fun, but a little labor intensive.

Peace & solidarity,

CHC

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The Minnesota AFL-CIO along with rank and file union members who are veterans gathered in St Paul at the capitol today, July 10, to launch the Union Veterans Council.  The AFL-CIO Union Veterans 2008 website states:

Some 2.1 million union members, or 14 percent of all union members, are veterans of military service. The AFL-CIO is bringing together union leaders and members who are veterans to speak out to and hold government officials and candidates accountable to the needs of our returning heroes—not only for Labor 2008, but beyond.

The event coincided with similar events in Milwaukee, Denver, Dayton, Ohio; and Charlston, W. VA. WorkdayMinnesota covered the event and has this quote from MN AFL-CIO President Ray Waldron:

Like all working people, veterans are worried about our future and our children’s future. Our country is headed in the wrong direction,” said Minnesota AFL-CIO President Ray Waldron, who participated in Thursday’s event. “The first-ever union veterans council will bring union veterans together across Minnesota on the issues that matter most to veterans, our families and all working people. And we’re starting by working to elect leaders who will put working people’s concerns first.”

Public News Service Minnesota also has this story and audio with MN AFL-CIO Communications Director Diane O’Brien.

The AFL-CIO will be running tv ads in selected states featuring Jim Wasser, a Vietnam veteran.

 

 

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Speaking of veterans issues, Ollie OX at  A Bluestem Prairie has two posts up today:

Click on the titles

Wa Times on hearing: “Why Does the VA Continue to Give a Suicide-Inducing Drug to Veterans with PTSD?”

and

House passes Homeless Vets bill; Bush threatens veto

 

The Veterans Council is a welcome addition to the AFL-CIO and will help bring together veterans to focus on issues and to elect reperesentatives( like 1st District Congressman Tim Walz) who will be responsive and accountable to their constitiuencies.

 

Peace & solidarity,

CHC

 

 

 

 

 

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An email from David Wellstone alerts us to the possibility of a compromise and final vote on H.R. 1424,  the ”Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act of 2008”. From the Wellstone Action website is this description of the bill:

The Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act is legislation that would end the practice of insurance companies discriminating against people suffering from mental illness. Sponsored by Representative Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) and Wellstone’s friend Representative Jim Ramstad (R-MN), the bill would compel insurance companies to treat mental illness the same as physical illness, given the overwhelming scientific evidence that mental illness is a disease every bit as real and serious as physical illness. This practice is often referred to as “mental health parity.”

David Wellstone had this to say:

…the final touches are being put on a compromise between the House and Senate, and we believe that a bill could go to the President’s desk next week.  But, if it doesn’t happen then, it’s likely we’d have to start all over again with the new Congress next year.

The Senate and House have passed different versions of the legislation and have been working on settling their differences since the House passed its version in March of this year. 1st District Congressman Tim Walz was a co-sponsor and supporter of this legislation. Representatives John Kline (R-MN2) and Michele Bachmann (R-MN6) were both in the NAY column, continuing their tradition of voting against the best interests of their constituents.

A favorable editorial in the July 5th Minneapolis StarTribune praises the Wellstone family and Congressman Jim Ramstad for their efforts on the bill and concludes their remarks with this:

Many business groups have long opposed coverage parity, saying costs could drive up premiums substantially. But one estimate by the Congressional Budget Office concluded the impact would be relatively small: a 0.4 percent premium increase for group health insurance. In addition, the federal employees’ health plan has had a parity policy since 2001; one study found no significant cost increase as a result. Part of the explanation likely lies in the value of treating mental conditions early and avoiding expensive complications and hospitalization later.

Many states already have laws in place that provide some protection for patients struggling with mental illness or addiction. Minnesota has one of the strongest. A federal law would not preempt those laws. What it would do is make sure no one falls through the cracks. Mental disorders are one of the most devastating diagnoses families can face. Their health insurers should work with them –not against them — at this difficult time.

A final call-in day to members of congress will is scheduled for Wednesday, July 9. Stay tuned for details on the call-in!

David Wellstone testifies before Congress in March of this year:

 

 

 

 

Peace & solidarity,

CHC

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“Eighteen months ago, we began with the simple concept that those who have been serving since 9/11 should have the same opportunity for a first class educational future as those who served during World War II. Today, we have accomplished that goal.”

Senator Jim Webb of Virginia spoke those words on June 26th after the Senate passed the 21st Century GI Bill that was part of the 162 billion war supplemental spending measure. The legislation passed 92-6 with 2 not voting. Today President Bush signed the measure into law and in a press release from the White House the President spins all the positives and thanks numerous people for their work. One line from the press release did raise my blood pressure.

“And I want to thank members who worked hard for the GI Bill expansion — especially Senators Webb and Warner, Graham, Burr, and McCain.”

Graham, Burr, and McCain? This is the same trio that opposed the 21st Century GI Bill and introduced legislation in an effort to sabotage Senator Webb’s bill. GOP presumptive nominee John McCain is now jumping on the bandwagon and trying to take credit despite the fact he was a vocal opponent and didn’t even bother to show up for both of the votes on this bill. McCain has proved that he is consistent in one way-having it both ways!

Ollie Ox at Bluestem Prairie has the press release from 1st District Congressman Tim Walz who has been consistent, vocal and hard working on veterans issues. In the statement he notes that over 20,000 men and women from Minnesota have been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. The Congressman also offers up the assistance of his Rochester, MN office (507-206-0643) for veterans that are experiencing difficulties with their benefits.

Peace & solidarity,

CHC

 

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With the passage of the 162 billion Iraq war funding bill last week it appears that the 21st Century GI Bill will become law. The Senate still needs to act on it but the White House has indicated it would sign the legislation. The GI Bill was included in the war funding along with a 13 week extension of unemployment benefits, disaster relief in the amount of $2.65 billion for the Midwest affected by the recent tornadoes and floods, additional money for the construction of military hospitals and some important Iraq policy provisions as noted by Minnesota Central in the comments section.

Senator Jim Webb, co-sponsor of the GI BIll, expressed his gratitude to supporters:

“I would like to again express my appreciation to the veterans’ service organizations, many of whom communicated their support of this bill directly to a skeptical White House, and to the 58 Senate and 302 House cosponsors of this landmark legislation. This bipartisan coalition consistently rejected the allegations of this Administration, and of Senators McCain, Burr and Graham, among others, who claimed that the bill was too generous to our veterans, too difficult to administer and would hurt retention.

“It has now been nearly seven years since 9/11 — seven years since those who have been serving in our military began earning the right for a proper wartime GI Bill. I am looking forward to the President living up to his word, and signing this legislation at his earliest opportunity.”  Read the entire statement here.

DFL Representative Collin Peterson, from the 7th district, which is just a tad more than 60 miles from my corner of the state was a supporter and his comments are covered by the Bemidji Pioneer.

A Bluestem Prairie covers 1st District Congressman’s statement on the passage of the new GI Bill and also comments about the process of getting the legislation passed:

“Like the final passage of the increase in the federal minimum wage, final approval of the New G. I. Bill came–eventually–at the cost of continuing to fund the war in Iraq. Those who feel that Congress should quit funding the war and pull out immediately will be disappointed with Walz’s vote for another amendment to the bill that continued money for the war in Iraq.”
It has been said that making laws is a lot like making sausage. Well, I work in the meat industry and I would consider that an insult. It is tragic that the continued occupation of Iraq was the price to pay. Just about everybody (416-12) in the House of Representatives will be able to pat themselves on the back for supporting the GI Bill. How many more GI’s will they be making eligible for the benefits?
Peace & solidarity,
CHC
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

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    That’s what they used to do.

Now it is ‘time out’. Minnesota 1st District Congressman Tim Walz (D) announced that he is co-authoring legislation (H.R. 6239) with Republican Congressman Sam Graves called the “NCLB Recess Until Reauthorization Act”. This proposed legislation will in effect suspend sanctions against schools that are struggling to meet the requirements of the underfunded NCLB act until the legislation can be fixed. Representative Walz released the following statement:

Statement on HR 6239

Walz-Graves “NCLB Recess Until Reauthorization Act”

By Congressman Tim Walz

June 21, 2008

 

Today, I’m here to announce that I’ve introduced legislation with my Republican colleague, Sam Graves of Missouri, that will give schools and teachers a ‘time out’ from ill-conceived sanctions imposed by the No Child Left Behind law. 

I’m disappointed that this bill is even necessary, because Congress was supposed to take time this year to work with the President to fully fund No Child Left Behind and to fix what isn’t working with the law. 

Unfortunately, Congress didn’t do its job this year.  And as a result, children, parents, teachers and schools all across the country must continue to operate under a law that nearly everyone agrees should be fixed. 

Well, if Congress and the President can’t or won’t take action this year, then I will work across party lines to protect students and schools from being penalized by bad policy for yet another year.  I believe that it’s time that Members of Congress hold themselves as accountable as we hold our students and schools.

Many of you remember when No Child Left Behind became law in 2002.  Since that time, much has changed for educators and students in America. 

Teachers have provided more information than ever before to parents about the educational progress of our children and students are working harder than ever before to master new skills.

The intent of this law was to make schools accountable for providing a first class education to our children, but the unfunded, cumbersome mandates of the law have resulted in frustration and diverted attention away from the best practices that we know are beneficial to our children. 

As a longtime public school teacher, let me state clearly that I fully support accountability in education and I know that most teachers share my desire to do whatever it takes to see our kids succeed.  But the same law that triggered these positive changes also penalizes schools that, while making progress, don’t meet an arbitrary bar set by the Bush Administration. 

Everywhere I go in southern Minnesota, I hear from constituents like those here with me today about the problems with No Child Left Behind.  As the only teacher in Congress with experience teaching under the unfunded mandates of No Child Left Behind, I believe I have a unique perspective on this law – I celebrate its achievements, but I cannot sit idly by and allow our children to be penalized while we wait for a new President to work with the Congress to fix what is broken.

This bill freezes in place the penalties imposed by NCLB.  That means that schools who are about to be sanctioned for not reaching the arbitrary benchmark will have another year to improve their scores, while schools  already being sanctioned will not receive additional penalties. However, schools that are already taking corrective action to improve their performance will continue with that plan – students will still receive extra tutoring, teachers will still receive extra professional training and other efforts to improve schools in American will not cease. 

My bill simply puts a hold on additional penalties until Congress and the new President can fix and fund NCLB, or until the conclusion of the 2008-2009 school year.

Congress should have fixed NCLB this year, but this President stands in the way of real reform.  But just because it didn’t get done doesn’t mean that our kids and our schools should have to suffer through more bad federal education policy for another year.  That’s why it is only fair to take a time-out from these penalties until Congress can provide parents, teachers and students a better plan to improve America’s schools – a plan that truly sets high expectations for all students and rewards results in the classroom.

 

This is one more example of Congressman Walz working for the people of the 1st District and educators and students nationwide. Our current president likes to talk about reform but falls short when providing the funding to get the job done.

And now a fine tune from Crosby, Stills & Nash:

 

 

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Peace & solidarity,
CHC

 

 

 

 

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This week, the U.S. Senate took an historic vote and passed (75-22) the Webb-Hagel 21st Century GI Bill. The GI Bill passed the House of Representatives earlier this month so now once the two legislative bodies reconcile any differences it will go to President Bush for his signature, signing it into law.

Or maybe not!

Bush along with his clone, McCain, is opposed to this particular legislation and has threatened a veto. Minnesota’s Senator Amy Klobuchar and Senator Norm Coleman both voted for the GI Bill. Only 2 of our representatives in the House voted against this legislation (Bachmann and Kline). 1st CD Congressman Tim Walz, my representative, voted for the legislation and delivered this speech in support on the floor of congress.

 

This legislation recognizes the sacrifice of ALL the women and men who have served, including our national guard and reservists who have paid a heavy price in Iraq and Afghanistan. It has strong non-partisan support in Congress and has the support of many veterans organizations, including the VFW and the American Legion. Senator McCain’s legislation is not as generous, would not treat the guard and reserve as equals and would require longer service times to be eligible for full benefits. Some may complain about the cost of this program but if we end our occupation of Iraq we will have plenty of extra cash on hand.

Peace & solidarity,

CHC

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UPDATE: 05/01/2008 #1 son points out in the comments that now 7 of 8 of Minnesota’s congressional delegation have signed on to this legislation. The only holdout is Michelle Bachman. As of this date 261 members of the House of Representatives have signed on as cosponsors. END UPDATE

As hundreds of thousands of men and women return from serving their country in the military they are finding that the current G.I. Bill is woefully inadequate. Senators Jim Webb(D) and Chuck Hagel(R), hope to change that with the “Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act” (S.22/H.R. 5740). The current list of cosponsors include 58 in the Senate and 250 members of the House. Both of Minnesota’s senators have signed on to the bill. Six of Minnesota’s eight representatives in the House have signed on, including my congressman, Tim Walz. This legislation has bipartisan support and has been endorsed by the following veterans and educational groups:   

The Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act has been endorsed by the Veterans of Foreign Wars(VFW), Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), The American Legion, the Military Officers’Association of America (MOAA), Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), AMVETS, the Air Force Sergeants Association (AFSA), the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States (EANGUS), the Student Veterans of America (SVA), the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges (NASULGC) and the Partnership for Veterans’ Education, a consortium of military, veterans, and higher education associations such as the American Council on Education (ACE) and the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU).

Democratic presidential hopefuls Clinton and Obama are cosponsors. Republican presidential candidate John McCain has introduced alternative legislation which is a slap in the face to our veterans and especially to our national guard and reservists. VoteVets.org issued a press release last week in which they repudiated the McCain-Graham-Burr bill. Here is and excerpt from the press release:

The veterans stated that the McCain-Graham-Burr bill falls flat in its key differences from the Webb-Hagel Bill, which has the support of 57 members of the Senate, from both sides of the aisle.

1) The McCain-Graham-Burr legislation creates a flat education benefit, not taking into account the cost of state colleges where veterans live. This would mean veterans in states where the cost of education is higher than the benefit would have go to into debt to get an education, or uproot themselves and their families to move to a place where the benefit would cover college. The Webb-Hagel Bill determines the education benefit based on the highest state college tuition in a veterans’ home state, allowing veterans to come home and attend college, without upheaval in their lives.

2) The McCain-Graham-Burr legislation creates second-class veterans, by offering those who serve in the military for 12 years the chance to transfer their education benefits to their children. This says to a veteran who serves for two years and loses both of his legs in combat that his service isn’t as valuable as someone who has served for longer.

3) The McCain-Graham-Burr legislation leaves the National Guard and Reserve out in the cold. In the current conflicts, the National Guard and Reserve have served faithfully alongside their active duty compatriots, and deserve equal benefits. Yet, the McCain bill does nothing to reward our Guard and Reservists for their cumulative service. Under the McCain bill, over 160,000 members of the Guard and Reserves who have done more than one tour in Iraq or Afghanistan would get no credit towards an education for their additional sacrifice. 

If this is an example of John McCain’s leadership and support for the troops, then we don’t need him. He is proving once again that he is out of touch with reality.  If we are going to go to war then we must consider all costs, and that includes education.

A fact sheet on S. 22 is available here.

Watch the video from VoteVets.org. 

Peace & solidarity,

CHC

   

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