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Guess What’s Not Happening This Year

Plus a Ward 8 challenger, a reason to tax the elderly, and the U spies on its students in today's Flyover.

Noel Parsons

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

Put Full-Strength Beer and Wine in Grocery Stores, Cowards!!!

The DFL-controlled House and Senate have been getting to work this legislative session, with an aggressive agenda that includes everything from OK'ing drivers licenses for the undocumented to enshrining abortion rights to legalizing the ol' ganja. But one thing you shouldn't expect to see get the green light in 2023? Full-strength beer and wine at your local grocer. “We just had a really significant liquor bill last year," Rep. Zack Stephenson (DFL-Coon Rapids), who leads one of two commerce committees that handles liquor laws, tells MinnPost's Peter Callaghan. "So I don’t expect to do a significant liquor bill this year.” Frustratingly, Sen. Matt Klein, who oversees the second such committee, adds that the stalling is due to an agreement among liquor industry players that puts a five-year moratorium on changes to liquor laws.

Our take? That stinks! You can already get beer and wine "at" a number of grocery stores thanks to a stupid wall separating the two businesses. (And you can get a ton of beer and wine, along with spirits, "at" several area Costcos.) Just let people check out at one register and be done with it! It's embarrassing having to explain 3.2 beer to my friends in other states! Plus, as you can clearly see from the map below (via a 2021 County Health Rankings and Roadmaps study), we have a tremendous alcohol access problem.

Soren Stevenson Announces Run for Ward 8

In 2020, Soren Stevenson was attacked and maimed by the Minneapolis Police Department while protesting. “Together we marched, sat, chanted, and came together as a community to demand justice for George Floyd and all victims of police brutality,” he said Wednesday via press release. “In response, the police shot me in the face in broad daylight and I lost my left eye.” That incident inspired his next big move: running for public office.

This morning, Stevenson announced that he's challenging Ward 8 Minneapolis City Council incumbent Andrea Jenkins. According to his website, he’ll be running on a “a kinder, safer Minneapolis” platform, with focus on police reform and affordable housing. The police accountability part might be a good angle for Stevenson; while Jenkins voiced support for dismantling MPD post-unrest, she has since softened her stance, stating that the police should continue to “serve and protect” the community. Jenkins could prove tough to beat: She has held the seat since 2016, was unanimously elected council president in 2022, and, as the first Black, queer, trans person in her position, is rightly considered a trailblazer.

Why Not Tax Social Security?

Your non-retirement-age pals at Racket haven’t been following the debate over exempting social security benefits from Minnesota state income tax all that closely, to be honest. (We’re more concerned that enemies of the program in DC will use misleading predictions of insolvency as an excuse to whittle down or eliminate it before we're eligible.) But this Minnesota Reformer opinion piece arguing against the exemption by Eric Harris Bernstein of We Make Minnesota is pretty damn persuasive. 

The current Senate bill would cost the state $1.26 billion, Bernstein writes, more than just about any of Gov. Walz’s proposed budget items. And 70% of the benefit would go to the highest-earning 20% of seniors. The 600,000 low-income Minnesotans who already pay no state tax on their benefits would not be helped at all, and anyone with an annual income below $49K would save just $4.07 a month—about 1/13th of what folks who make over $250K would save. Bernstein makes a good case that any tax relief should be focused on helping the less well-off generally, rather than using a sympathetic target ("the elderly") to justify cutting taxes for the already comfortable. 

UMPD Has Been Monitoring Leftist Student Groups for Years

Great scoop by the Minnesota Daily's Gillian Haveman: Since "at least" 2020, the University of Minnesota's Department of Public Safety (DPS) has been tracking the marches and rallies of leftist student groups, including "where the event will occur, the route participants will take if marching, who is involved, and what the purpose of the protest or rally is," Haveman writes. Those groups include Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA), and Students for Climate Justice.

This reveal was sparked by U grad student Cal Mergendahl, who requested public records late last year on a hunch. "I had, like, sort of an inkling that there might be something here,” Mergendahl tells the Daily. The groups, understandably, are frustrated to learn how they're viewed by the U. “I just find it so disappointing that the university is so opposed to students having their own opinions and voices,” Haley Bergren of YDSA tells the Daily. Adds Siobham Moore with SDS: “I think that’s frankly a little telling of how the admin sees their relationship with the student body.” U of M PR dude Jake Ricker downplayed concerns by saying DPS tracks every large campus event, adding: “Freedom of expression is at the core of instruction and discovery and essential to the University of Minnesota mission."

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