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Drag Hysteria, Weed Is Sugar, Defunding the Occult: MN GOP Gets to Work

Plus expunging weed, a DFL tax plan, and a new shade of blue in today's Flyover.

3:39 PM CDT on April 18, 2023

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Welcome back to The Flyover, your daily digest of what local media outlets and Twitter-ers are gabbing about.

MN GOP: Still Nuts! 

It’s easy to fixate on the DFL punching left and eroding press freedom, but we can’t forget the major party that doesn’t even pretend it’s here to help: The Minnesota GOP. Watch with amused horror as we present a play of recent Republican insanity, in three can’t-look-away acts. 

First up: The man some are dubbing “ZZ Cop,” State Sen. Nathan Wesenberg (R-Little Falls), on his manly inclination to call 911 when he encounters *gasp* drag shows. 

Next up: State Rep. John Petersburg (R-Waseca) on how, when you really think about it, marijuana is a lot like sugar, though unlike sugar, it should not be available for legal sale and use.   

And, finally: Sen. Eric Lucero (R-Saint Michael) with some good ol' Satanic panic, as applied to "pictures, plays, sculptures, or any other type of art" that might be used to "channel the occult" via taxpayer dollars.

House DFL Bill Taxes the Right People (and Non-People) 

From where we're sitting, the House DFL majority does have a pretty good tax plan on the table. Their bill, made public yesterday, would provide tax cuts, tax credits, and a one-time rebate to those below a certain income threshold, while jacking up taxes ever so slightly on the wealthy and on corporations. And the best news? Under this proposal, you wouldn’t have to file a separate renter’s credit form—you could take care of that on your income tax return. 

The bill would cut state taxes on Social Security, but only for those below a certain income. (Republicans and some Democrats have insisted on cutting the taxes across the board.) It would expand the earned income tax credit. And the bill would issue $550 rebate checks to married couples who earn less than $150,000, with single people getting $275 and then another $275 per kid for up to three children. That’s well below the $2,000 Gov. Tim Walz has proposed—so far below it raises the question whether this is the best way to provide financial relief.

On the top end, the bill would add a fifth income tax tier of 10.85% for incomes above $1 million (married) or $600,000 for individuals. The current top rate is 9.85%. (Why not bump it up to an even 11%. Or hell, 12%. They’ll never miss it.) This would affect about 24,000 taxpayers. (And if you’re one of them have you considered becoming a Racketeer?) The bill would also tax corporate income held in other countries. Together, these hikes are expected to bring in about $1 billion over the next two years. Now let's see what the Senate has to say about this.

Expunging Marijuana Convictions: A Pricey, Bureaucratic Mess

It’s only a matter of time before the Minnesota legislature legalizes marijuana, which will also see records expunged automatically for certain low-level convictions. But until that happens, this permanent, petty misdemeanor can impact all kinds of things, from housing to job applications. Getting that “oops” taken off your record? Yeah, that ain’t easy, either. The process can take six to nine months, and you can only begin two years after conviction. It’s not cheap either: If you do it yourself it’ll set you back over $300, and if you use a lawyer that could cost upwards of $3,500.

You also have to serve a physical statement to every agency who has a copy of your conviction, and who you need to send that letter of intent to can vary depending on your situation. “That’s where everybody gets screwed up,” says Jon Geffen, a Minneapolis defense attorney. Read more about how people go about getting their convictions expunged, from the forms to the mailings to the money, in this very handy Sahan Journal article; you can sign up for a free workshop Wednesday that will walk you through the steps here.

They Blue It!

The Lake Harriet Bandshell has seen better days, which is how a petition to re-paint the sucker—this time restoring it to its original pleasant shade of blue—garnered more than 1,500 signatures last year. But then in January, drama! The paint chosen by the Minneapolis Park Board looked an awful lot like the current, drab brown-beige, not the sky blue constituents were promised. "Is it blue, though?" Southwest Voices asked at the time. It was not. SWV followed up with some good news today, though: The Park Board has figured out how to get a shade closer to that original bandshell blue. It does look a lot better, no?

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