The economy continues to fall at a rapid pace.
Several members of Congress appeared at the State Capitol yesterday to discuss the federal stimulus package that passed the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this week. DFL Rep. Jim Oberstar said the plan will create and save thousands of jobs. Others aren't so sure. MPR and the Pi Press have stories.
DFL Rep. Collin Peterson also appeared at the Capitol and explained why he voted against the bill.
Meanwhile, Gov. Pawlenty's proposed cuts to health care could jeopardize some stimulus money.
KARE runs with some city requests for stimulus aid that have been ripped by a GOP group.
Gov. Pawlenty signed a bill that extends unemployment benefits.
Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson sues two more housing services.
Minnesota gets poor marks for teacher quality.
A different report says Minnesota has lost its edge in biosciences.
Dentists rip Pawlenty's proposed cuts to dental services.
Some state lawmakers are pushing for plans to reduce carbon emissions.
DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar creates an advisory committee to help her find a new U.S. Attorney for Minnesota.
A top EPA scientist highlights the change in attitude with the new administration.
GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann bashes the stimulus bill in this op-ed.
Politico reports that Democrats plan in running campaigns in GOP districts.
President Obama is said to be considering GOP Sen. Judd Gregg (New Hampshire) for Commerce Secretary. If Franken wins, that would put the Senate at 60 Democrats.
Obama signed the equal pay bill.
2008 Race for U.S. Senate
MPR takes a look at the PR battle between the two campaigns.
AP says Coleman shifts in the fight for votes.
The Pi Press says Coleman wants the three judge panel to reconsider 11,000 rejected absentee ballots.
The Star Tribune says Coleman's campaign counterattacks.
Politico reports that Coleman's U.S. Senate office is tossing out bundles of stuff.
Holy Angels school revokes an award for DFL Rep. Paul Thissen (a candidate for governor) because Thissen supports legalized abortion.
Posted at 12:02 PM on January 30, 2009
by Tom Scheck
Democrats in control of both the House and Senate have been urging Gov. Pawlenty to appoint someone to manage the the expected federal stimulus money that will be given to the state. Pawlenty announced this morning that he was appointing Tom Hanson, Commissioner of Minnesota Management and Budget, to the post. In a news release, Pawlenty said Hanson is best suited to lead the effort, since he works closely with state agencies and the federal government as the state's top finance official.
Democrats aren't pleased with the pick. DFL House Majority Leader Tony Sertich said Hanson already has his hands full managing the state's budget deficit. He said "The task of keeping an eye on the spending of federal recovery dollars should be handled by someone who does not already have a full plate."
Posted at 12:47 PM on January 30, 2009
by Tim Pugmire
The Minnesota Senate passed a resolution Thursday setting committee deadlines for the 2009 session. The House is expected to do the same next week.
The first deadline, for committees to act favorably on policy bills in the house of origin, is March 27, 8:00 p.m. The deadline for companion bills from the oppisite body is midnight on April 7.
House and Senate finance committees have until April 16 to approve omnibus appropriation bills. The committees on finance, ways and means and taxes must act favorably on omnibus bills by April 22. The fifth deadline, for conference committees on omnibus appropriation and tax bills to report bills to the floor, is May 7.
Legislators will squeeze in an Easter/Passover break April 8-14. They must complete their work by May 18.
Posted at 1:55 PM on January 30, 2009
by Tim Pugmire
Democrats say they need more details from Gov. Tim Pawlenty's budget proposal, as well as public input from a series of meetings they plan to hold throughout Minnesota next month. Republicans say they want DFL leaders need to share their budget alternatives.
Another budget unknown is the amount of money coming from a federal economic stimulus package.
Budget talk dominated the regular Friday briefing sessions held by legislative leaders. The Republican governor unveiled his budget plan Tuesday. But the Senate Assistant Majority Leader, Sen. Tarryl Clark, DFL-St. Cloud, wasn't satisfied with that lengthy power point presentation.
"I think we needs some bills," Clark said. "So hopefully we'll get the bills soon, so we can actually take a good look at it."
Several committees have hearings planned next week to dig deeper into the governor's budget and better understand its implications. Lawmakers are also planning to fan out across the state next month to get public feedback. Meetings are scheduled Feb. 19 in Mankato, Rochester, St. Cloud and Willmar. On Feb. 20, meetings are planned in Albert Lea, Alexandria, Bemidji, Duluth, Little Falls, Marshall, Virginia, Winona and Worthington. A second series will be scheduled in the Twin Cities metro area.
The House Majority Leader, Rep. Tony Sertich, DFL-Chisholm, says lawmakers want to hear about the potential impact of the governor's budget proposal on communities, schools, families and health care institutions.
"This deficit is very significant and severe," Sertich said. "And the answers don't lie within these four walls of the Capitol building."
Republicans say they weren't consulted about the series of meetings, but they still plan to participate. Sen. David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, says he thinks Democrats intend to use the meetings to criticize the governor's budget. Hann says that approach is fair, but he also wants DFL leaders to present an alternative budget and any tax increases they're considering.
"Take that to the people," Hann said. "Here's our plan, here's the governor's plan and let's have some discussion on that. I don't think that's part of the plan, and so to that extent, I'm not sure how productive that exercise will be."
Hann says DFL leaders need to show their cards early to prevent an end of session meltdown and a special session.
Posted at 2:34 PM on January 30, 2009
by Tom Scheck
It's not really a surprise since The Fix has been enamored with Gov. Pawlenty for quite some time. That being said, Chris Cilizza says Pawlenty is in the Top Ten Republicans to watch:
6. Tim Pawlenty: In retrospect, T-Paw being passed over as John McCain's vice presidential pick might have been the best thing that ever happened to the Minnesota governor. He can now make a clean break from the GOP of 2000-2008 and offer his Wal-Mart Republican message as the cure for what ails the party. Pawlenty allies point to his state of the state address as a blueprint for where the party could go nationally in these tight economic times: increased funding for education, a cut in business taxes and a shrinking of state government. (Previous ranking: N/A)
Pawlenty is headed to Virginia today to address the House GOP retreat. He'll return to Minnesota on Saturday.
Posted at 2:51 PM on January 30, 2009
by Tom Scheck
AP's Martiga Lohn analyzed Gov. Pawlenty's budget proposal and found that it would cut 1,100 full-time workers. You can read the story here.
Politico reports Sen. Amy Klobuchar is invited to President Obama's Superbowl party. I'll bet he has a nice TV. Just be careful not to choke on the pretzels.