Rob Hahn - Reform Family Law Now

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Rob Hahn forming Reform Family Law Now group to seek change in child custody
By Jay Weiner Published Thu, Jan 6 2011 6:24 am

Former Independence Party gubernatorial candidate Rob Hahn is expected to announce today that he has formed Reform Family Law Now, an organization that will seek to change child custody laws in Minnesota and other states.

A website — — has been established.

Hahn wants the "legal presumption" in a divorce situation to be joint "50-50" custody arrangements. Hahn believes that fathers are often discriminated against in post-divorce custody battles.

Op-Ed by Tom Horner

Posted by Jeffrey Johnson Labels:

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When the Minnesota Legislature convenes Jan. 4, Republicans and Democrats
will be laying claim to their respective version of the “voters’ mandate.” Republicans – who won majorities in both houses of the Legislature – are convinced that Minnesotans want all solutions to fixing the state’s deficit to come from the spending side of the ledger. Democrats – backed by the election of DFLer Mark Dayton to the governor’s office – will be equally adamant that Minnesotans are willing to accept some higher taxes to maintain vital services.

If those are the only mandates Democrats and Republicans heard in the 2010 elections, Minnesotans better get used to hearing a lot of another word: gridlock. Meaningful, long-term solutions won’t be found if spending cuts or higher taxes are the only two tools used by legislators and the governor in an effort to forge good policy.

Legislators and the governor would do well to look beyond what one party or the other claims as a mandate and find in today’s divided government the great opportunity for reform – not policies that simply make the status quo cheaper (by cutting spending) or larger (by raising taxes), but innovations that build a stronger Minnesota for everyone.

Education is a good place to start. The debate in 2011 is shaping up as a re-run of the past several years in which the key question asked by both DFL and GOP state leaders is “how much?”. How much should we spend on teachers? How much should we ask property owners to pay to support local schools? How much should we ask students and their families to go into debt for college education?

A far better question is “what for?”. What we really need to be paying for is outcomes – not measured by test scores, but by citizens who are prepared for the future. The Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce estimated that by 2018, 70 percent of Minnesota’s jobs will require some level of post-high school training. Today, we are falling far short of that measure.

Yet, the policy discussion in Minnesota too often revolves around fixing an institution – traditional classroom instruction in traditional schools – that is hopelessly out of date with today’s students. What is needed are entirely new approaches. Put teachers in charge of schools. Really in charge of schools – trusting them to hire and fire, to decide curriculum and to make decisions about how resources are allocated. Engage students as partners in education, not just passive sponges of facts. Use technology and student-directed learning projects in ways that allow students to create their own paths to knowledge. Invest in early childhood learning to make sure kids enter kindergarten prepared to succeed.

The same is true of economic development programs. Democrats and Republicans need to think differently about economic development. Minnesota’s future is much more tied to the Biomedical Discovery District at the University of Minnesota – a center of research that will produce breakthroughs in medical science and private sector job creation – than company-specific tax incentives.

In other words, economic development of the future will be about knowledge, requiring more public and private research dollars; a strong talent pool of workers, making accessible and affordable life-long learning essential for all; and, a marketplace that values innovation and risk-taking, necessitating streamlined regulatory processes and a tax system that promotes investment.

Minnesota’s tax system is the third area crying out for reform. Minnesota’s tax system should ask more of the wealthy, as Dayton proposes. But do it by simplifying the state’s tax system, curtailing deductions that disproportionately reward the well-off. Republicans are right in their contention that raising the income tax rates punishes job creation (higher individual income tax rates fall heavily on the small businesses that are creating the most jobs) and makes it difficult to attract and retain top talent in Minnesota.

The state needs comprehensive tax reform, starting with a transition to a system that rewards investment and savings. That means more revenue has to come from consumption taxes. Minnesota should lower the sales tax rate, but apply it to more goods and services. The result would be a tax system that rewards investment, promotes economic growth – including job creation – and creates enough revenue education and other core public services.

If policy makers heading to St. Paul are looking for the mandate of the 2010
election, try this: Voters are tired of politics as usual. They tossed the incumbent parties – Democrats from control of the legislature and Republicans from the governor’s office – as a way of telling all politicians that it’s time to end the gridlock. Reform offers Democrats and Republicans the opportunity to deliver on their principles and to restore Minnesota to a state of prosperity through innovation. That’s a mandate for the future.