Underlying all issue positions is a governing philosophy of Libertarianism. It essentially boils down to "Live and Let Live" and that limited government exists to defend and protect the rights and freedoms of individuals. These rights and freedoms are inherently owned by each person as part of existence and are not granted by any law, government, or institution. Within this context is the assumption of nonviolence, peace, and autonomy of every individual. A good starting point for any issues I left out below would be: how can this policy problem be addressed with solution aligned with freedom and individual choice absent the threat of violence or harm to others. If you disagree or think I missed something, I want to hear from you. Pick an issue and give me your best solution, and I will review it. I especially enjoy discussing these in person, so if you want to change my mind, check my schedule and let's talk at an upcoming event!
Voting and Elections
Government of the people requires all eligible people to freely select their representatives and issue positions without control, moderation, or censorship by those currently in power. The right to freely cast a vote or express a preference on an issue should be nearly unlimited, with only very limited cases of violent crime conviction and incapacitation restricting that right. Currently, our choices on the ballot are restricted to those individuals pre-approved by the state's threshold of major parties. Under a ballot access bill, I would advance the access equity and loosen the two-party control over our options at the ballot box. Even more, expanding access to ranked-choice voting would allow us to better express our preferences among those expanded options on the ballot. Together, these changes would make our government more democratically representative republic. This is distinct from the two major party candidates who would prefer to restrict your choices to retain a tighter hold on power.
Ballot Access Bill highlights:
Change major party threshold from 5% of a statewide race to 1% by both petitioning and election results.
Any party over 1% is major, any party under 1% is minor, no more third-class political organizations.
Allow petition signors to vote in primaries and sign multiple candidate petitions for the same office if they choose.
Align state and municipal race requirements with general election details:
signatures tied to population ratios (400 senate, 200 house, 200 municipal, instead of 500 for each)
broader, general election aligned deadlines (14 to 88 days)
Ranked Choice Voting highlights:
Optional use of multiple choices for ordered preference of candidates.
Requirements that candidates must win absolute majorities to be elected.
Reallocation of votes to advance secondary, tertiary, etc. preferences as candidates are mathematically eliminated from contention.
Criminal Justice Reform
One death is too many, but so many of our neighbors, family, and friends have been taken by "peace officer" actions. That is made problematic by the transfers of excess war equipment, existence of SWATing, no-knock raids, and so many other egregious fear-based policies that don't promote safety and put everyone, especially people of color, at risk. The fact is no one should be in fear for their life as they go about their peaceful lives. To better align the police with the mission of safety, we need to stop treating them as the social elixir for any emergency, real or imagined. There are already solutions for these problems on the table, and I intend to work every day to make sure they get a hearing and become law.
Examples of excellence in Police Reform Policy:
ACLU Mobile Justice App - a great, free, individual accountability tool
Minnesota Coalition on Policy Accountability hits all of the high points I know, and several I didn't:
Ending statute of limitations on wrongful deaths. This is insane that uncovering evidence after bureaucratic delays could amount to nothing because it was too long ago. This needs to be corrected immediately. This goes along with their bills on independent investigation of wrongdoing and access to body camera footage within 48 hours.
Professional liability insurance and qualified immunity. I don't think these policy proposals go far enough. I would ensure that all civil servants carry professional liability insurance and are not provided any immunity defense for crimes committed in the line of duty. The fact is, taxpayers should never be on the hook for the wrongdoing of one of their employees, and this forces agencies to face the true cost of tenured employment and keeping bad actors around by letting the insurance companies hold them financially accountable.
To reform policing culture, they propose civilian oversight and ending prosecution for reporting police misconduct. These are outside my understanding, because as a former soldier, I think of police as civilians. My concern with this policy would be adding ineffective and costly oversight where some already exists. I would prefer enhancing whistleblower protections, weakening union powers over reemployment and grievances, and increasing accountability through mandating extra reporting to justify the "near miss" lethal force incident any time a weapon is drawn or placed in service on scene.
Last, end the us versus them mindset that treats police like warriors on the thin blue line between society and anarchy. They are not and that sentiment is always absurd. To better reflect equal justice under the law, we should return to an innocent until proven guilty model of police enforcement:
Ban all no-knock warrants in all circumstances. there is never a good reason to put police and the public at risk when the suspect is not yet found guilty. Only being accused of a crime should never result in your death or the death or injury of anyone who happens to be near you, your neighbor, or the target of mistaken identity. Never again.
End the transfer, training, and deployment of war equipment in service of peace. That is a heinous contradiction that builds a war mindset, but lacking sufficient training and rules of engagement, can only lead to excess injury, fear, and death.
Build in mental health resources, because a person armed to kill should not be the only one responding to a person already struggling with a mental health crisis or episode. Police aren't social workers, social workers are. Police aren't nurses, nurses are. If we stop criminalizing all nonviolent civil offenses and using police as social Swiss Army knives, and keep police focused on violent crime prevention and investigation, perhaps we will stop having excessive use of force problems. There is only one way to find out, and our current model clearly doesn't work.
There is more to do, but these are the key pieces I see that should be standardized across the state, and maybe the nation. Other reforms like resident or community policing should be decided by each community as both their size and needs can differ.
Our housing market is overheating thanks to limitations placed on housing construction across our state, but particularly in the Twin Cities metro. Our outdated and convoluted planning and zoning system through the Metropolitan Council and cities run by Democrats and Republicans prevents the free ability for people to choose their housing and forces them into skyrocketing rents or unsustainable mortgages on inflated property values. Instead of continuing ineffective policies such as rent control and restrictive zoning, let's try freedom to develop and infill low-density residential areas. Mandates for affordable housing and restrictions on housing innovation leave the housing market and fellow Minnesotans without housing choice. The way to end rent extortion, slumlord management, and predatory lending is through a competitive market that forces landlords and sellers to compete for tenants and buyers, not the other way around.
The biggest failure of our housing policy is being car-centered and stuck in the 50s. We can and must do better by allowing the market to develop diverse housing classes to bridge the affordability gaps in our current stock. Unfortunately, many of these policies are shaped at the local level. Deeper dives into landlord-tenant law can be wonky, but there are a whole host of regulatory obstacles that prevent people from adding housing density on their single-family property or even developing cooperative living arrangements. By trying out a more flexible housing policy model, we may be able to resolve the housing crisis in the Cities and across the state's increasing urban areas. One thing is certain, if we keep trying the same intensive subsidy and government control based solutions, we will continue to face the same shortage and displacement challenges we have now, but with a continuously growing population.
In my consulting work, I have connected with many public charter schools and it has reinforced my already strong affinity for customized education tailored to the family and student interests, focus, and preferences. State standards ought to be generalized with accountability for schools at the local level. Claims of racism or disparities due to charter schools are either overblown misunderstandings of process or whole fabrications based on attachment to outdated models of neighborhood-based education. Charter schools build cost-efficiency in public education and break the property-tax based gaps in education funding that plague neighborhood disparities. Along those same lines, I fully support the Page Amendment to the state Constitution that guarantees all students a civil right to education. Property values should not determine the quality of anyone's education, and a literate and functionally educated society is essential to accountability and execution of our democratic values. Accompanying the amendment should be a budget commitment by the state to provide sufficient state funding to accomplish education goals, eliminating the reliance on levies and bringing equality to the education system. Even more, support and expansion of charter schools will further their successful model in developing novel and differentiated education opportunities for students and families to choose, when the neighborhood schools fail to meet their needs.
The Page Amendment:
“All children have a fundamental right to a quality public education that fully prepares them with the skills necessary for participation in the economy, our democracy, and society, as measured against uniform achievement standards set forth by the state. It is a paramount duty of the state to ensure quality public schools that fulfill this fundamental right. The duty of the state established in this section does not infringe on the right of a parent to choose for their child a private, religious, or home school as an alternative to public education.”
People should retain the rights to cultivate food for themselves and their neighbors if they choose, for business or any other reason. There are some absurd local policies that outlaw food production based on location preferences in city ordinances. The fact is, if people wish to cultivate food, grass, or trees, it shouldn't be up to a local city or the state to overrule the individual's choice. No one is entitled to justify unpaid taking of your property through illegitimate arguments on community-based property values. If you choose to live in a restrictive association, part of your rights are ceded to that association. The Minnesota Bill of Rights prevents takings, but is insufficient. Art. 1, Sec. 13. Private property for public use. Private property shall not be taken, destroyed or damaged for public use without just compensation therefor, first paid or secured. End government suppression of food sovereignty: If it is your land, you should be able to grow anything not classified as a noxious plant anywhere you want; provided it doesn't negatively affect your neighbor's ability to do the same.
Inspired by change in the State of Maine, I would propose the following as a Minnesota Constitutional Amendment:
Constitution, Art. 1, Section 18 is enacted to read:
Section 18. Right to food. All individuals have a natural, inherent, and unalienable right to save and exchange seeds and the right to grow, raise, harvest, produce, and consume the food of their own choosing for their own nourishment, sustenance, bodily health and well-being, as long as an individual does not commit trespassing, theft, poaching, or other abuses of private property rights, public lands, or natural resources in the harvesting, production, or acquisition of food.
Once established, we can correct other injustices in the food code and elsewhere that suppress food choice and competition through unnecessary and burdensome regulation. Be free from hunger: free the food system and grow prosperity!
The capacity of the Earth to support complex life is, as far as we know, unique in the universe. It is our shared duty to steward that life carrying capacity responsibly and equitably as a species, allowing as much of that life support to continue indefinitely into the future. To the extent that threats such as man-made climate change, soil and water contamination, and other environmental burdens inherited or produced by the current population are addressable, we must mitigate the cause and support adaptation to the changing conditions. To preserve a just, equitable, and sustainable environmental inheritance for our descendants, I support:
Mitigating the impacts of climate driving emissions by deregulating the energy market, especially access to small and medium-scale nuclear power.
Ending all subsidies and government supports tied to pure or blended fossil fuels. We have no business dedicating tax dollars to degrade our environment.
Halting all new road and highway construction and car-oriented development incentives across the state, while implementing congestion toll-based user fees for all major highways. We have overdeveloped our road and bridge infrastructure and now the bill is coming due; however, we realize leaders and drivers since the 1960s have left us with the deferred maintenance. We need to go on a road diet until we can regain sustainability in funding the already existing public infrastructure that subsidizes single occupant vehicle use, and consider opportunities for greater privatization of roads, user fee systems, and reduction in road or impervious surface density where possible.
State-based moralism leads to ruin and criminalization of minorities by those in the majority or at least those minorities forming a coalition of power. Nonviolent crime is a civil matter when more than one person is involved, or none of the state's business if one person alone. I would try to eliminate every nonviolent crime from the Minnesota Criminal Code: It is time to love thy neighbor, instead of throwing them in prison for the state's disapproval of their life choices. This includes all drug-related crime and reforming our system to aid those suffering from mental illness, including addition, rather than pushing them into the shadows through stigma and jail.
Prison should be reserved for REFORM of violent criminals, and that means ending legalized slavery where the state can place prisoners in low-paying jobs to reap the benefits of their labor. I find all slavery and indentured servitude to be abhorrent and think that we should fully sever our society from the injustices of slavery through terminating this exploitation of prisoners as laborers. If it is a job skills program, partner with outside organizations to employ current and formerly incarcerated people. Removing the state work camp option takes away the exploitative use of prisoners of the state, performing labor of the state, to enrich the state. Further, businesses whose wage-laborers try to compete with slavery operated state organizations like MINNCOR would be able to regain their market share displaced by underpaid labor in prisons. Last, and maybe a touch too cynical, the state would no longer have the incentive to create new nonviolent and victimless offenses to fill the prisons so they have sufficient laborers to operate the labor camps.
Love is love. The state has no business interfering with anyone's ability to live their life, access appropriate care, and form consenting relationships, legal or undocumented. When examining children's access to care, it should be up to their parent(s)/guardian(s) unless a court proceeding emancipates them or they reach the age of majority. The state shall make no law respecting or prohibiting individuals free expression and identification of their gender, sexuality, or other aspects of their identity. Each person is a sovereign individual and should be granted the dignity and respect afforded to them as an equally valuable person. When the state's resources or personnel take action to violate this dignity and respect, the offender should be held personally liable for that failure, rather than placing the settlement or payout burden on the employing taxpayers of that civil servant's jurisdiction.
Just as any land or homeowner receives statements on property subject to tax, we should each receive annual statements from the Department of Revenue regarding the state's estimated tax we owe and what was collected. Our complex system of taxation is a tool to bury the loopholes reducing the burden on its friends and making the rest of us pay for it. If the state wishes to collect anything more than a basic flat tax, similar to the sales or property taxes, the state should have to file the return with the taxpayer instead. Then the taxpayer can accept or challenge the tax estimation by auditing the state's calculations and rules. By inverting the paperwork and risk burden, we incentivize legislation and tax code changes that lean toward clear, simple, and straightforward tax structures, as the state's best interest is in reducing the cost of collecting money from each taxpayer.
Health choice is key. I'm a disabled veteran and a Latino, I know what it is like to not be heard when you go to a provider's office. I know what kind of garbage care passes for government specification. Some of the people are great, but a system that relies on making my health decisions through a bureaucratic web of cost-benefit analysis doesn't work for me. I think people should be able to opt in to a public health care pool if they choose. I know that the inadequate patient outcomes they measure, their inability to safeguard personal data, and the delays and misdirection in care I have received puts my preference in a private health system. Right now, lots of factors drive up costs, like restrictive health care professional licensing, limitations on insurance competition across state lines, and price transparency from drugs to having a baby. Some of those factors we can work on in the legislature, like expanding the reciprocity for nurses trained elsewhere, allowing doctors trained abroad to come to the U.S. to practice, and opening up the health insurance markets. Other innovative options include adding flexibility like cost pools, incentivizing cost share and creative deductible arrangements that shift the focus to health care instead of sick/injured care, and changing non-health government policies to align with a healthier society. We can make common sense changes to build health resilience into our policy future, but ultimately the only level where care decisions should be made is the patient-provider.
Drugs, Cannabis, Hemp
Once our nonviolent crimes go away, it will be legal to possess and use medicines (marijuana, psychedelics), study their benefits and risks (all drugs), and grow your own cordage (hemp). Prohibition by the state makes criminals of our neighbors and makes everyone less safe by taking transactions out of the general market. The War on Drugs has been a cover to deprive minorities in this country of their civil rights and fuel regime change wars in our own backyard across the Americas. Let's end the policy and restore peace by taking power from the cartels and shifting it back to the people and the open market.
All government powers, programs, and projects should include sunset clauses within 5 years. These clauses would require future legislators to continuously reevaluate and reauthorize every proposal that is enacted, to ensure that it continues to meet the needs and priorities of the current cohort of Minnesota taxpayers. This approval model recognizes the potential for representation to change often enough to require a check on the amount of budget control and bureaucratic inertia we carry forward to future legislative assemblies. Along the same lines, the only omnibus bills that should ever pass in the legislature are errata and language corrections to maintain consistency in the statutes. Legislators are elected to represent their constituents and consider what is best for the future of the state. Their due diligence on each bill requires time and consideration that is not possible when meaningful legislation is rolled up in a single act to avoid debate.
Term limits are appealing as a reform, and I don't have a position on that since my personal perspective is that you are elected once and that is the chance you get. The idea of reelection to cement someone in power increases the likelihood of their election becoming about maintaining a position of power over the duty to represent the people. A performance-based term limit makes the most sense to me: If the legislature fails to complete their session minimums (passing a budget), all legislators elected that cycle or appointed for more than half of the biennium are barred from reelection or service in the next biennium. I believe we would find the partisans imbued with a sense of compromise if they become personally disqualified from holding power should they fail to negotiate.
When it comes to business regulation, the simpler the better. The government is not responsible for determining who is a good doctor, nurse, teacher, lawyer, accountant, home mover, or microbrewery. That is up to the consumer, and the government makes no guarantee of excellence beyond self-certified sufficiency or professional organization/mentor testimony. Anyone who has served professionally as a barber, nurse, or teacher in any other U.S. state or across the world should be eligible for professional reciprocity with a simple proficiency test. To the extent that state law is an obstacle to people practicing their trained and chosen profession, those regulations should be eliminated and let the consenting individuals determine their own business relationships in the context of their values and available information. This is not to say that fraud or malpractice is tolerable, just that professionals in good standing immigrating to Minnesota should be allowed to practice their profession.
Thinking of immigration, we should also be doing as much as possible to retain graduates of our colleges and universities who come to the Minnesota or the United States for the first time to complete their education. Once our community enriches a mind, we should reduce the regulation and support the process of incorporating that person into the social fabric of our state as quickly as possible. Recognizing that immigration policy nationally is xenophobic, we should do as much as we can to reverse that and reduce obstacles to immigration and resettlement of refugees, immigrants, and anyone looking to pursue happiness in Minnesota.
The 2nd Amendment does not protect unlimited individual ownership of any firearm, only the possession of firearms related to the historically accurate (and archaic) definition of well-regulated militia. “Shall not be infringed” is the individual right to keep and bear arms for the purpose of maintaining a local military force of trained, mustered, and able-bodied citizens or national guard (a well-regulated militia). Even as a trained soldier in the MN National Guard, I was not allowed to take my service weapons home with me, they remained in the armory and ammunition was only provided when I was at a range or in a combat zone. I believe that we have a long way to go for individual ownership outside of that force to be just as "well-regulated." Licensed and registered possession/operation of a motor vehicle is easier than a firearm when both are about equally deadly, so I would propose consolidating various backgound checks, permits, and purchase regulations into education and licensing:
Classes, perhaps even a high school elective such as trap or target shooting alongside archery – require basic safety, storage, and care of each weapon with a basic skills test to support responsible ownership and reduce the fear around guns. Basic life skills and treating weapons with respect and care eliminates fear and makes for a more prepared generation. Securing a license would include access to National Guard facilities for range, demonstration, and training privileges. This effectively creates a larger spectrum of citizen-soldier through connecting a pool of trained and able citizens who could be a volunteer ready reserve for local mission needs. This practice already happens to some degree at gun clubs and ranges, but the state could benefit by connecting skilled volunteers as well. Completion of classes for care, storage, and use of firearms would lead to classes of regulation showing demonstration of specific skills.
Universal background check on license and renewal, valid license allows purchase of firearm classes and ammunition. No further checks required on firearm or ammunition purchase. The burden is on the state to align the digital system with any restrictions because owners are assumed innocent until proven guilty.