Posted at 8:01 AM on February 19, 2009
by Tom Scheck
Filed under: Daily Digest
State and federal lawmakers continue to try to figure out the details of the stimulus plan.
The stimulus plan could free up money for alternative energy projects in Minnesota.
There are high hopes that a bullet train from St. Paul to Chicago could be built as a result of the stimulus bill.
New home construction posts a worse-than-expected drop.
The Federal Reserve says the economic outlook is turning grim.
President Obama also announces his plan to fix the home foreclosure market.
Homeowners in Minnesota expect to benefit from Obama's foreclosure plan.
Under the Dome
The federal money will mean a state budget do over.
Lawmakers hit the road today to hold hearings on the budget.
A GOP plan would cut pay for state politicians.
Former Finance officials blast Pawlenty's tobacco appropriations bond proposal.
The Vikings will continue to push for public money for a stadium even though the state is clearly short on public money.
The green cars bill could face a tough road at the Capitol.
A study says the state's No Child Left Behind rules are looser than other states.
A bill that increases the state's dropout age has been proposed again.
The GOP is pushing welfare reform as a cost savings measure.
Medical marijuana moves through a House Committee.
Greg Lemond, the winner of the Tour de France, is backing a bill calling for physical education classes in school.
2008 U.S. Senate Race
Is the air coming out of the Coleman campaign balloon? Politico is running a story saying "Coleman needs a miracle."
GOP bigwigs send out a fundraising video saying "America needs Norm Coleman" and ""A little bit of money right now could make the difference. We've got to get every ballot counted."
Coleman's attorney is arguing that "they can still win."
The panel of judges rejected Coleman's request to reconsider ballots. Coleman's attorneys say they've created a fatal flaw and blast the ruling and blast the ruling. The Pi Press, Forum Communications, AP and the Star Tribune have stories.
They also question the "reliability" of the election trial.
DFL Rep. Keith Ellison visits Gaza.
President Obama is considering Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius to head HHS.
He also heads to Canada.
The EPA is expected to regulate carbon dioxide.
DFL Rep. Tim Walz pushes the stimulus bill in Winona.
GOP Rep. John Kline says he has concerns about the auto bailout because he doesn't want the federal government telling car companies how to run their businesses.
DFL Rep. Betty McCollum wants to yank an Iraq contract from Kellogg, Brown and Root.
A report suggests that the White House not move FEMA outside of Homeland Security. DFL Rep. Jim Oberstar wants that to occur.
Former U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton sends out a fundraising letter.
The U of M's Larry Jacobs doesn't think Gov. Pawlenty will run for a third term.
Posted at 8:57 AM on February 19, 2009
by Tom Scheck
Ron and Valerie Jerich, lobbyists who represent several groups including R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and the Minnesota Corn Growers, are holding a fundraiser tonight for DFL Rep. Collin Peterson:
You are cordially invited to dinner with Congressman Collin Peterson
Hosted by Ron & Valerie Jerich
At the W Hotel - Prohibition Bar, 27th Floor
Marquette & 8th Street
Valet Parking Available
Thursday, February 19, 2009
5:30 - 8:30 p.m.
Suggested Donation: $1,000 per person
Here's who Ron Jerich represents.
Here's who Valerie Jerich represents.
Posted at 11:49 AM on February 19, 2009
by Tom Scheck
Burnsville Mayor Elizabeth Kautz will meet with President Obama, Vice-President Joe Biden and other members of the Obama Administration on Friday. Kautz, who serves as the Second Vice-President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, is headed to the White House along with more than 60 other mayors. Here's the release.
Posted at 12:59 PM on February 19, 2009
by Tom Scheck
One day after Republicans announced a proposal to cut pay for state lawmakers and the state's five constitutional officers, DFL Sen. Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller implemented a state Senate hiring freeze for the remainder of the year, is freezing state Senate wages and will allow any member of the Senate to cut their salary by submitting a written request.
"These are common-sense measures to show the public that we are taking the budget deficit seriously and we will be sharing in the pain," said Sen. Pogemiller in a news release. "Our state is in the midst of a budget crisis and these actions are a continuation of the cutting we've been doing this year in the Senate. We will continue working together in these tough times and sharing in the sacrifice that many Minnesotans will be asked to make."
The move, which was approved by the Senate Rules Committee, is a body blow to the Senate GOP. That caucus recently released Dan Wolf as Chief of Staff and was reportedly looking to hire (which was first reported by MN Progressive Project) Norm Coleman's campaign manager.
I'm told that Dan Wolf is still currently serving as chief of staff.
GOP Senate Minority Leader Dave Senjem was visibly upset and declined comment after the meeting. During the Rules Committee hearing, Senjem asked the DFL majority to delay the freeze until they could fill the chief of staff position next week. He described the move as "disturbing" and "not fair to the minority."
Pogemiller's proposal also puts those who back the pay cut in a compromising position since the press corp can regularly check to see which members decided to take the voluntary pay cut.
Senate Republicans say DFL leaders are using the hiring freeze to punish them for speaking out on budget issues.
During an afternoon news conference, Sen. David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, said he was disappointed by the DFL vote to prevent his caucus from filling a chief of staff position. Hann also claimed the freeze is payback for recent GOP proposals to trim spending. He said this week's Republican plan to reduce lawmakers' salaries was the last straw for Democrats.
"To us it clearly is politically motivated because they have gotten tired of our attempts to make issues of things that we believe are important," Hann said.
Hann insisted the Senate GOP caucus will continue proposing alternative ideas.
Posted at 4:08 PM on February 19, 2009
by Tom Scheck
Say hello to Jerry Dhennin, of Coon Rapids, who brought some heavy machinery to a news conference in St. Paul. Dhennin, who is a self-described "gun nut", is a member of Citizens for a Safer Minnesota. During his remarks, Dhenin pulled out his Ruger mini 14 which he says he bought at a gun show four years ago "with no questions asked" besides a driver's license. Before he had the gun disabled by a gunsmith, Dhennin said he could fire the
pistol gun at four rounds per second.
"There's no reason to have that kind of firepower that I know of except maybe for law enforcement and the military. But yet I was able to buy this at a gun show, no questions asked, except that I was required to show a driver's license by Minnesota law."
Dhenin said he also bought a Springfield Armory 9mm semiautomatic pistol at a gun show just the other day with "no questions asked" but the driver's license requirement.
Citizens for a Safer Minneota and DFL Rep. Michael Paymar want to make it tougher for those transactions to take place and are calling for the closure of what they call a "loophole" in law. Paymar's bill would require background checks on any pistol or semiautomatic weapon purchases
Current law requires licensed dealers to conduct background checks but allows individuals to sell firearms at gun shows, over the internet or through newspaper ads without a background check.
"All we're trying to do is make a very clear statement and believe that we can save lives and keep some guns out of the streets in Minnesota if we plug these loopholes by trying to ensure that dangerous people don't possess dangerous weapons," Paymar said
Supporters of the legislation point to a study that says illegal "straw purchases" are much more common in states that don't have tighter regulation laws than California, which does require background checks for any gun purchase.
Olson says the bill is more about harassing legitimate, law abiding gun owners. He said Minnesota law has allowed individuals to sell guns to one another since 1974. He said there are different standards between purchases from licensed dealers and private transactions because private transactions are "not a significant source of anything other than the recreational firearms."
In other words, Olson said, "If you and I are at the gun range and you're shooting your gun and I say 'Gee, that looks just like the one my grandfather used to have. Would you like to sell it to me?' You could do it."
But he said the sale couldn't be made if the bill became law unless a background check was done first. Olson also added that this legislation doesn't deal with the "people who are selling guns of a car in north Minneapolis at 3 and 4 AM. Those are the people who are putting guns in the hands of gang members..." He added that people engaged in illegal drug selling can acquire guns through illegal activity.
"This bill has no effect on criminals at all. It's not intended to have an effect on criminals. It's only intended to make gun ownership and gun possession a bigger hassle.."
Question of the Day: Will this bill make a difference if it became law?
Posted at 7:38 PM on February 19, 2009
by Tom Scheck
WCCO says the fine print in the stimulus package says Gov. Pawlenty (and other governors) have to make a formal request for the stimulus money. If Pawlenty chooses not to request the money, the Legislature can overrule him. That is something DFL House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher said the DFL controlled Legislature would do.