The DFL Rural Caucus serves to ensure a voice for rural communities and our positions are developed to reflect the needs of those communities.
Agriculture is experiencing a moment of intense challenge. Climate change, market disruptions, and record low prices are battering the bottom line. The resulting social stress is driving many young people out of the industry. The DFL Rural Caucus believes these problems have reached a crisis point, demanding dramatic action.
Business and Community Development
The DFL Rural Caucus supports work to foster economic development, increase scientific and energy innovation, and connect rural communities by closing the digital divide. A thriving Rural America starts with economic security and opportunity. The DFL Rural Caucus will continue to fight on behalf of rural families, small businesses, and family farmers to expand economic development, create jobs, and protect and invest in rural America.
The DFL Rural Caucus strongly supports science-based, reasonable, and robust environmental and energy policies that promote clean water, clean air, soil conservation, and clean, renewable energy. Such policies favor drinking water protection, air and water pollution control, and sustainable farming practices. We recognize that small- and large-scale clean and renewable energy (infrastructure) projects (ex solar farms, wind farms, biomass, stored hydro, etc) will help farmers and rural Minnesotan’s bottom line, create good-paying local jobs, and boost local and county tax revenues. We encourage local and state policies, regulations, and legislation that further these goals.
Public Education secures a fair and level playing field for our citizenry. Rural schools are often the heart of the community: They should be a place that prepares us to go successfully out into the world, and effective and memorable enough to make us want to come home to have our children educated there.
We Support Fully Funded Public Education; Broad-based curriculum (including Vocational, Science, Health, Technology, Math, Economics, Languages, Art, Music, History, Political Science, Literature, Dramatic Arts, Home Economics, Life Skills); Continuing Ed for Adults; robustly funded and affordable classes through our Community Colleges; Support for our Union Member Educators; Expanded Public Education to include Early Childhood Education.
The Rural Caucus strongly supports science-based, reasonable, and robust environmental and energy policies that promote clean water, clean air, soil conservation, and clean, renewable energy. Such policies favor drinking water protection, air and water pollution control, and sustainable farming practices. We recognize that small- and large-scale clean and renewable energy (infrastructure) projects (ex solar farms, wind farms, biomass, stored hydro, etc) will help farmers and rural Minnesotans bottom line, create good-paying local jobs, and boost local and county tax revenues. We encourage local and state policies, regulations, and legislation that further these goals.
Government Accountability to the Public
We Support: • Campaign finance reform, including: o Fair public financing of presidential and congressional elections. o A ban on gifts from lobbyists to elected officials. o Disclosure of financial political campaign support. • Enforcement of standards of ethical conduct and accountability for elected officials. • Ensuring public availability of government information. • Policies that enforce honest conduct by government officials and contractors who provide services to government agencies. • Adequate government funding for research and development in areas of humanitarian and scientific significance. • Government agency actions that ensure citizen safety and fair treatment. • Providing veterans and military personnel with the appreciation, respect, and benefits deserved because of honorable service to our country. • Efforts to locate and bring home service personnel who are prisoners of war or missing in action. • Native American tribes’ rights to self-government and the generation of revenue to serve theirpeople. • The use of ranked choice voting, also known as instant runoff voting, for state and local elections. We Oppose: • Unnecessary government regulations. • Using government agencies for political purposes. • Laws and policies that restrict government employees’ right to participate in the political process.
Universal health care is paramount to the well-being and freedoms of our citizenry. It should not be tied to employment or group vs. individual. Democrats are committed to ensuring that every American has access to quality, affordable health care, and treatment. It should not be biased by gender or race, or exclude pre-existing conditions.
We support increased funding for community health centers, and an increase in the funding and support for the National Health Service Corps, providing scholarships and support for students willing to serve in underserved locations.
Housing in Rural America should be stable, accessible, safe, healthy, energy-efficient, and, above all, affordable. No one should have to spend more than 1/3 percent of their income on housing, so families have ample resources left to meet their other needs and save for retirement. The DFL Rural Caucus supports taking aggressive steps to increase the supply of housing, especially affordable housing, and address long-standing economic and racial inequities in our housing markets.
We support modern infrastructure improvements, which include reliable and affordable internet and cell phone service, better roads, safer dams and bridges, and common-sense renewable energy projects. Improvements to these essential amenities are necessary to facilitate jobs, expanded tax revenues, public education, and transportation for farm products, and e-commerce capabilities for farmers and rural Minnesotans.
Labor and Employment
We promote the American labor movement and the rights of all workers. We Support: • The right of workers to organize and bargain collectively. • Comparable wage standards and pay equity. • A minimum wage that keeps pace with inflation and provides full time workers with an income above the poverty level. • Adequate compensation for injured workers. • Programs to promote full time employment. • Hiring Minnesotans for jobs created when state/local tax incentives are involved in development projects. We Oppose: • The permanent replacement of striking
National Security and International Policy
We recognize the intertwined relationship between national security and international policy. We believe in a foreign policy that strives for international cooperation, supports human rights, and respects international justice. Such a policy will have the effect of restoring American leadership in world affairs and thereby greatly enhancing the security of our borders as well as the safety of our citizens at home and abroad We Support: • Free elections and democracy. • Foreign aid that helps people achieve economic self-sufficiency. • Fair trade policies based on mutual understanding of each country’s problems and culture. • The protection and promotion of women’s rights, including comprehensive, adequately funded international family planning programs. Countries receiving foreign aid must be required to protect and promote women’s rights. • United Nations mediation of international conflicts and global reduction in armed forces and nuclear and conventional weapons. • Israel’s right to exist within secure borders, Palestinian rights to self-determination, and continued peace efforts in the Middle East. • Marine life conservation and prohibition of drift netting. • International cooperation to protect the global environment in areas such as preventing acid rain, preserving the rainforests, preserving the ozone layer, and preventing global warming. We Oppose: • Terrorism, dictatorial and exploitative international policies. • All forms of United States exploitation in foreign countries, and any attempts to dictate their political systems.
Public Safety and Crime Protection
We advocate strong law enforcement policies combined with vigorous crime prevention programs that emphasize education, treatment and rehabilitation. We Support: • Protection of victims of crime through the mandatory arrest of domestic abusers and mandatory sentences for convicted rapists, as well as government-funded programs to house, treat, counsel and educate victims of abuse, rape or other violence. • Protection of children exposed to abuse or violence, with stiff penalties for child abusers. • Reasonable firearm policies that promote public safety and crime prevention without infringing on the rights of hunters and other sports enthusiasts. • Enforcement of traffic safety laws, particularly against chemically impaired drivers. • Abolition of capital punishment, and freedom from unreasonable searches, seizures and surveillance contrary to our constitutional rights. We Oppose: • Mandatory sentencing practices for drug-related crim
As our populace ages, we should guarantee all seniors approach the help and care they need to live autonomous, solid lives. To keep the guarantees our nation has made, we should keep Social Security and Medicare solid and stable for the present seniors and people in the future.
The DFL Rural Caucus strongly supports efforts to care for vulnerable seniors and to keep elderly Americans out of poverty, including through programs like Meals on Wheels.
Taxes & Budget Policy
Balancing the federal budget and reducing the National debt. • A progressive tax structure with minimal reliance on sales and excise taxes. • Taxing all income producing property owned by tax-exempt organizations, as the same rate as other income producing property. • Establishing a lower tax base for industry in rural areas of Minnesota as an aid to the economic well-being of those areas. • Taxing agricultural lands on the basis of production value rather than market value. • Providing tax incentives for equity investment in small businesses. • Reducing the military budget and using the savings to fund social, scientific and environmental programs and research and development. • Exempting senior citizens from paying property taxes if their income does not exceed 125% of the poverty level and they live in single-family homes. • Denying tax exemptions for schools that practice or advocate racial segregation.
The DFL Rural Caucus believes we cannot rest until no veteran goes homeless and every veteran has access to timely, world-class health care, swift and transparent action on disability claims, and the good-paying jobs and support they and their families need to thrive as they transition into civilian life.