After a long Saturday afternoon and five ballots, the 60B DFL convention adjourned without an endorsement, and incumbent Phyllis Kahn and challenger Muhamed Noor will meet in the Aug. 12 primary. Nearly 300 activists participated in the balloting at DeLaSalle High School in Minneapolis on April 5. On the first ballot Kahn was just six votes shy of endorsement, but she couldn’t close the gap, and after more than five hours the delegates agreed to adjourn.
Southside Pride asked both candidates questions about their views on possible legislation. Here are their responses:
How do you feel about the following:
Legislation calling for a single payer health plan, similar to Vermont, which would be an extension of Medicare for everybody?
Kahn: “Yes. The ACA lets us do this in ’17 but the legislation must be passed in ’15-’16. I think I am a co-author to Marty’s HF companion.”
Noor: “By 2017, the Affordable Care Act’s state innovation waiver will allow Minnesota to adopt its own public option plan. Minnesota should take that opportunity to establish a single payer system. As the single insurer, the State of Minnesota will be empowered to bargain for the best possible prices from care providers and drug companies. Minnesota businesses will enjoy the competitive advantage that comes from being free of healthcare costs. Minnesota workers will enjoy more freedom in their employment choices, better health and a higher quality of life.”
Legalization of marijuana and immediate release from prison for anyone convicted of possession of a small amount of marijuana?
Kahn: “Not sure we have anyone in that category. Yes, but I am more interested in working on more possible first issues like industrial hemp and medical marijuana.”
Noor: “I support decriminalizing marijuana. We spend far too much public money on the prosecution and incarceration of marijuana users. For those jailed for small possession, prison can be the beginning of a downward spiral into criminality and/or hard drug abuse. Marijuana prosecution disproportionately impacts people of color and people living in poverty, making overcoming societal inequities that much harder. Finally, decriminalizing marijuana will remove one more barrier to patients who need access to medical marijuana. Removing those barriers is critical to providing compassionate care to people suffering from serious illnesses. Too many people suffer needlessly because they are prohibited from gaining access to medically prescribed treatment.”
Immediately begin phasing out nuclear power plants at Monticello and Prairie Island, and increased state subsidies for renewable energy?
Kahn: “I have bills in every session to control nuclear plants, particularly through financial responsibility. Also vote for all stuff to promote renewable and put first bill in more than 20 years ago for a carbon tax to pay for more tree planting. Also laws on outdoor lighting.”
Noor: “Nuclear power is far too problematic a source of energy for us to subsidize. I support the shift of public subsidies for nuclear energy into renewables—specifically solar, wind and small-scale hydroelectric power. Shifting from nuclear to renewable energy encourages local self-reliance, supports Minnesota jobs, and avoids generating further deadly waste that we will have to secure for thousands of years or transport elsewhere at great cost and risk. In the wake of the most recent IPCC report, the urgent need to address global climate change has never been clearer. Another step Minnesota can take to reduce carbon pollution is to invest government funds in clean energy. All across the country, universities, religious organizations and local governments are shrinking the presence of fossil fuels in their investment portfolios—and thus shrinking their contribution to global climate change. If elected, I will work to reduce the extent to which Minnesota’s state pension funds are invested in the fossil fuel industry. I will work with the state auditor and my colleagues to determine how best to move our state’s pension fund’s energy investments to clean, renewable energy.”
An 8% excise tax on the sale of all Vikings tickets to help pay the Minneapolis share of the $890 million cost for the new Vikings stadium?
Kahn: “I would support it but I am not on tax committee and doubt it will happen. Not sure if Mpls. can do it by itself. If they can, it is not a state issue.”
Noor: “I support exploring all possible options to withdraw the vast public subsidies that went to the new Vikings stadium. Before we punish individual ticket buyers, we should force the billionaires who own the team to pay for their stadium.”
Phyllis Kahn has represented her district for 42 years. She is best known as the principal author of the no smoking ban in Minnesota. Muhamed Noor was appointed to the Minneapolis School Board.