Posted at 9:06 AM on May 13, 2008
by Tom Scheck
Filed under: Daily Digest
Gov. Pawlenty and legislative leaders are expected to resume behind closed doors budget talks later this morning. MPR, Forum Communications and AP say the property tax cap issue is holding things up. The Pi Press says Democrats believe the governor is deliberately delaying by not providing information about the impact of the property tax cap. Pawlenty officials say it's tough to put it together. The speaker says the Revenue Department has not given the info to her yet this morning.
I'm told the Governor also canceled a Wednesday trip to Washington DC to attend a "Crisis in Education" conference in order to be in Minnesota for budget talks.
He's in Thief River Falls this morning for the Capitol for a Day festivities. He was in Bemidji yesterday and unveiled a new stamp.
KSTP says there are three outcomes for budget talks.
The House and Senate are expected to take up an education finance bill this morning.
The Mall of America proposal gets a renovation in the Tax Conference Committee report.
The pool safety act and dining with dogs were approved.
The House also passed a bill that creates rules for surrogate mom contracts.
Speaking of biofuels, an ethanol plant proposal is dividing Eyota.
The House passed a constitutional amendment that would let voters decide if an outside citizens group should determine lawmaker pay.
Pawlenty signed legislation Monday requiring insurance companies and agents to annually notify insured clients whether flood coverage is included in their policy.
He vetoed a bill that banned the sale of two chemicals.
DNR officers are put on paid leave as conference is probed.
NWA CEO Doug Steenland says most jobs will stay in Minnesota.
Forum Communications says lawmaker retirements spur speculation.
A study says the use of wind energy is expected to grow dramatically.
Politico says nutrition groups are pushing for the Farm Bill passage.
DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar says she's pushing to redirect tax subsidies to oil companies to alternative energy.
Klobuchar's husband dines with First Lady Laura Bush and the other Senate spouses.
Northrup Grumman says the House Armed Services Committee will vote on a bill that could provide jobs to Minnesota. The news release singles out GOP Rep. John Kline.
A former businessman and backer of GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann agreed to pay nearly $3 million to settle debts. The payment is a result of a court agreement.
DFL Rep. Jim Oberstar says a tunnel for Central Corridor could be back on the table. The Met Council says no.
2008 Race for President
DFL Rep. Collin Peterson (Minnesota's remaining uncommitted superdelegate) said on MPR this morning that "Senator Obama won my district by a pretty good margin. So that'll be heavily weighted in my decision." I'll link to the interview when it goes up.
Voters in West Virginia head to the polls today. Hillary Clinton is expected to win.
Bob Barr, a former GOP Congressman from Georgia, announces that he'll run as a Libertarian.
2008 Race for U.S. Senate
The American Future Fund hits Democrat Al Franken with an web attack ad.
Democrat Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer campaigns in Hutchinson.
2008 Race for Congress
3rd District DFL candidate Ashwin Madia is mentioned in this story focusing on the growing number of Indian Americans who are running for office.
Pawlenty for VP Watch
Pawlenty gets the VP questions in Bemidji.
GOP Sen. Norm Coleman talks up Pawlenty.
The Washington Post/ABC News poll looks at potential VP picks.
KARE is putting the cart before the horse by speculating on a possible Gov. Molnau. I saw some blogs speculating on who Molnau would select as her Lt. Gov. She can't pick anyone. The president of the Minnesota Senate (in this case Jim Metzen) would take Molnau's slot. See Article 5, Section 5 of the Minnesota Constitution.
Posted at 10:24 AM on May 13, 2008
by Tom Scheck
DFL Rep. Collin Peterson was on MPR this morning to talk about the Farm Bill, ethanol and other issues. You can listen to the interview here. Peterson, who is Minnesota remaining uncommitted superdelegate, said he would wait until the Farm Bill debate was over before he would back a candidate. He did, however, add this nugget:
"Senator Obama won my district by a pretty good margin. So that'll be heavily weighted in my decision."
Here's where Minnesota superdelegates stand.
Two other superdelegates will be selected at the DFL State Party Convention.
Posted at 10:31 AM on May 13, 2008
by Tom Scheck
Former Gov. Jesse Ventura will be making a rare Twin Cities media appearance by appearing on Midday this Thursday at noon. Will he announce that he's running for the U.S. Senate? Will he discuss who he's backing for president? Will he say "Everybody thinks Che Guevara is dead. I know better" like he did on the Colbert Report? Tune in.
Posted at 10:41 AM on May 13, 2008
by Tom Scheck
The Minnesota House is moving forward with debate on an Education funding bill. That has increased the level of tension regarding budget negotiations. DFL Rep. Mindy Greiling said they need to take the bill up because "We're at the drop dead date should we try to override" a veto. It could be interesting to watch which House Republicans vote for the bill since it does include an increase in school funding. He called it "political games."
Several Education Department officials (including Education Commissioner Alice Seagren) were heavily lobbying the Legislature yesterday.
Update: I just talked with Governor Pawlenty. He said it's not helpful that the House is taking up an education funding bill. Pawlenty said budget negotiations are now headed in the wrong direction with the House action.
"It's disappointing that they decided to piecemeal this. At the end of last night I thought we had a good understanding with how this was going to proceed today and apparently there's been a change of heart or change of mind from the other side."
Budget meetings have not been scheduled at this time.
Posted at 12:44 PM on May 13, 2008
by Tom Scheck
The House has recessed until the call of the chair. House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher said she got a call from Gov. Pawlenty asking her to hold off on the Education Funding vote. Kelliher said she agreed but was setting a firm deadline of this afternoon for them to reach an agreement. Private meetings are expected to occur shortly.
UPDATE: They're meeting right now. Gov. Pawlenty just lobbied the Senate GOP to vote against the Real ID bill. After the meeting he was asked about budget talks. His reply: "We're going to try to bring this to a head here today and see where that leads."
NOTE: I corrected the DefCon level after being alerted that DefCon 1 is really bad and DefCon 5 is good. Thanks for helping me out.
The Pioneer Press reports that longtime former state Capitol reporter Jack Coffman has died. That's sad news for all who knew him and respected his work. He was a good competitor and colleague, and we send our condolences to his family and friends.
Posted at 5:48 PM on May 13, 2008
by Tom Scheck
Governor Pawlenty and legislative leaders are still meeting behind closed doors with the hopes of reaching a budget deal. They're working out their differences on property tax relief and budget cuts. DFL House Speaker said they had "a possible framework" for a deal at one point.
The breakthrough in talks came after the House took up an Education Finance bill that would have provided more money for schools. The action was a clear signal that Democrats were prepared to send the governor a bill that had enough support for a veto override (at least on the way out). The House suspended the debate after Gov. Pawlenty called the speaker and asked her to hold off on taking floor votes. Several sources say he threatened to take funding for the Central Corridor Light Rail Line off of the table if the House moved forward with the vote.
Democrats still have the option of moving forward with votes on several budget related bills if a deal isn't done soon. The governor has threatened to veto those bills if an overall agreement is not reached.
It could be a late night. Mr. Tim Pugmire is lucky enough to take over the duties. I asked him to update me if a deal is done.
Gov. Pawlenty also vetoed the Omnibus Education Policy Bill and a Health Care Reform Bill. No word yet on the minimum wage hike or an omnibus liquor bill that includes the 4AM bar closing for the RNC.
Posted at 6:00 PM on May 13, 2008
by Tom Scheck
The DFL Party says GOP Sen. Norm Coleman should divest campaign donations made by employees of DCI, a lobbying firm that did work for Myanmar's junta.
AP says Coleman's folks rejected the call, saying the contributions were legal.
The DFL Party's call comes after a Minnesota Monitor story pointed out the donation. On Sunday, the coordinator of the Republican National Convention quit his post after Newsweek reported that his firm (he's the CEO of DCI) was paid to represent Myanmar's junta.
Posted at 7:56 PM on May 13, 2008
by Tom Scheck
We're raising the DefCon level after DFL leaders walked out of budget talks claiming that Governor Pawlenty was "moving the goal posts." The latest breakdown in private talks came when Gov. Pawlenty raised objections to the use of $50 million from the health plan reserve fund. DFL House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher said the House will not take up the Education Finance bill tonight.
Gov. Pawlenty's spokesma, Brian McClung, sent an e-mail saying the Administration has raised the reserve fund during meetings in April. He said in a scrum with reporters that the governor still wants to continue negotiating but the decision to pass the Education bill "is not a good sign."
The things to look out for are the level of GOP support for the Education Finance bill. Remember the House is up for reelection this fall and a vote against an increase in education funding could end up on campaign literature. What will the retiring Republicans do since they don't have to worry about reelection. Will the House also take up the Tax Bill and the Budget Bill (raising the DefCon levels to 4 and 5)?
UPDATE: The House voted 97 to 35 in favor of the bill. That is more than enough to override an expected veto by Gov. Pawlenty.
UPDATE: DFL House Majority Leader Tony Sertich said they won't take up the Tax bill or the Budget balancing bill tonight.
Posted at 9:59 PM on May 13, 2008
by Tom Scheck
Gov. Pawlenty was scheduled to attend a forum called "Crisis in Education" in Washington DC on Wednesday morning. He canceled the trip so he could continue budget talks. It appears that the actual crisis could be to his signature Q-Comp program. It's getting the funding axe in the Education Finance Bill that is now headed his way.
The House passed the bill 97 to 12. The Senate passed it 55 to 10. Gov. Pawlenty's spokesman issued this statement:
"Tonight, the DFL walked away from negotiations. Instead, they charged ahead to do what they do best - raise taxes, irresponsibly increase government spending, and throw out accountability measures.
"That's unfortunate because Minnesotans would benefit from the property tax relief and other tax cuts we were fighting for as part of the overall budget negotiations. We intend to use every tool at our disposal to ensure Minnesota's budget is balanced, taxpayers are protected, and state government lives within its means just like families have to do every day.
"The DFL education bill stops our nation-leading program to pay teachers for performance and revokes other key education accountability measures."
What's missing from the statement is that a large number of Republicans voted for the Education Finance bill.
We'll see if the House GOP can stick together and protect the governor's veto (Senate DFLers already have a veto proof margin in the Senate). If not, the gov will see veto overrides on a Transportation Funding package and an Education Funding Package this session.
We may be moving to DefCon 5 pretty quickly here. If we're not there already.