Posted at 7:15 AM on April 22, 2009
by Tom Scheck
Filed under: Daily Digest
The governor's office points out that the plan raises property taxes.
Tough budget problems force Rochester to cut 75 teachers.
Gov. Pawlenty proposes a flood relief plan for northwestern Minnesota.
The I-35W bridge collapse victims praise the victim's compensation fund.
EPA action may kill the clean cars bill in the Legislature.
The Senate approves a Judiciary Finance bill that relies on user fees.
The Senate defeats a plan for a new hockey arena but a proposal to forgive a loan for the Xcel Energy Center advances.
The House HHS budget bill advances. A note on DFL Sen. Linda Bergin's door said the Senate HHS Budget bill won't be released until late this week or early next week.
Hospital executives, who are getting whacked under the House plan and the governor's plan, call for fair cuts.
GOP Rep. Marty Seifert seeks to stop state money to a Twin Cities Somali group.
GOP Rep. Steve Drazkowski filed a complaint with the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility against the Wabasha County Attorney. The Red Wing Republican Eagle has the story.
Fewer young people are fishing but baby boomers are picking up the slack.
The Star Tribune looks at the energy alternatives in Minnesota and the difficulty with picking one of them.
Health plans record a break-even year.
2008 Race for Senate
Franken files a request with the MN Supreme Court to expedite the appeal.
Democrats in the U.S. Senate hedge on seating Franken.
President Obama signs a bill that expands Amercorps.
The House Speaker says the House will pass Climate Change this year.
DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar will help raise money for a New York Senator.
DFL Rep. Collin Peterson says he doesn't support efforts to allow the Federal Reserve to regulate over the counter derivatives. He said the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which is overseen by Peterson's committee, should do the job.
Peterson also said most lawmakers don't "have a clue what's going on with" food safety reform.
CQ says there's No Clear Favorite in the race for governor. Note: The analysis doesn't mention DFL House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher (who hasn't said whether she'll run yet) and calls Matt Entenza a current lawmaker.
Violent crime is down in Minneapolis. Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak is mentioned.
MNProgressiveProject interviews Mark Dayton.
Posted at 10:40 AM on April 22, 2009
by Tom Scheck
Gov. Pawlenty's political director, Trisha Hamm, announced in an e-mail that the Pawlenty for Governor campaign is beefing up its website. The question is whether Pawlenty is gearing up for another run for Governor or a national run in 2012. He hasn't announced his intentions. Here's the e-mail from Trisha Hamm:
Over the next few weeks, we will be making a series of changes to www.TimPawlenty.com .
When completed, our new website will serve as a platform for discussion on state politics and a tool for citizens to get involved at the grassroots level. It will feature state of the art new media tools that will help you stay more easily involved. We'd welcome your feedback and hope you'll sign up for regular updates!
While we are still in the process of developing the website, you can get a preview of what to expect by checking out our new splash page.
Our goal is a one-stop, easy to navigate site that allows you to research and discuss important issues facing Minnesotans, ask Governor Pawlenty questions and organize with other supporters in your area.
In the meantime, the Governor is hard at work at the Capitol. He's fighting to enact a budget which emphasizes efficiency, cuts taxes, maintains important commitments in education, and asks government to tighten its belt to reflect the times.
You may also be interested to know the Governor was asked just last week to give the Republican weekly radio address. In that message, the Governor reinforces his belief in keeping a lid on taxes and restraining government spending. Click here to link to his brief three minute message on these important topics.
Your involvement will be critical, so please stay connected with our activities and progress, and make your voice heard! At TimPawlenty.com, we will regularly share the Governor's message and keep you informed of all the latest news.
We know it's a tough economy, and people's budgets are tighter, but we can't do all this alone. If you can, go to the new website and help us with your financial support to complete our upgrades quickly. Please consider a contribution today.
We hope you'll check out our new splash page and check TimPawlenty.com often in the coming weeks.
QUESTION OF THE DAY: What do you think Pawlenty will do?
Posted at 10:52 AM on April 22, 2009
by Tom Scheck
Republican Norm Coleman's attorneys have filed a motion with the Minnesota Supreme Court saying they want their appeal expedited but they say Democrat Al Franken's timeline is too fast. Here's Coleman's motion. For those who missed it, here's the Franken motion.
Posted at 1:07 PM on April 22, 2009
by Tom Scheck
I posted a Revenue Department analysis yesterday that said the Senate DFL Tax bill would increase property taxes. Today, a leading property tax expert for several cities, MN2020 and the Coalition of Greater Minneota Cities released a statement on Revenue's analysis:
Here it is:
Governor Tries To Spin Property Tax Blame
Statement from Jeff Van Wychen, Noted Property Tax Expert, In Response to Statement from Governor's Office That Claims Senate Raises More Property Taxes
"The Revenue Department analysis vastly overstates property tax increases under the Senate tax bill, possibly by as much as $400 million. The claim that the Senate tax bill is increasing property taxes by over $800 million is based largely upon the fallacious assumption that levy limits are effective in holding down property taxes. House Research analysis shows that levy limits are an ineffective long-term strategy for holding down property taxes. Levy limits are a gimmick used by politicians to give the impression that they are doing something about property tax increases."
"The Revenue Department analysis states that the Senate tax bill is increasing business property taxes by $333.6 million. What the analysis fails to mention is that business property taxes have increased at half the rate of homeowner property taxes since 2002. Even with a $333.6 million increase, the rate of business property tax growth will still be well below the rate of homeowner property tax growth over the last seven years."
"Property tax increases since 2002 are largely the result of the Governor's policy of balancing the state's budget on the backs of local governments and local property taxpayers through disproportionately large cuts in state revenue sharing with local governments. By minimizing state aid cuts, the legislative approaches are doing more to protect property taxpayers than the Governor's insistence on the failed policy of levy limits."
Posted at 1:35 PM on April 22, 2009
by Tim Pugmire
The Minnesota House has voted to increase funding for veterans at the expense of farmers.
The House is debating an omnibus finance bill today that covers agriculture, veterans and military affairs. Overall, the measure would reduce spending by 6 percent, with agriculture taking most of the hit. Funding for veterans programs was protected by tapping a surplus in state GI Bill money. But the deep cuts proposed for farm programs grew deeper with several floor amendments that shifted more money from the Department of Agriculture budget to veterans programs.
Republicans had been painting the bill as a cut for veterans. But Rep. Al Juhnke, DFL-Willmar, says that was never the case. Before the floor session, Juhnke told reporters that it was unfortunate to see veterans used as a political issue..
"I will tell you there are just as many Democrat veterans in this state as Republican veterans," Juhnke said. "And we treat them all with respect. And we try and fund to the best of our ability all their needs and services."
The House also voted down an amendment to end state subsidies for ethanol by a wide margin.
Posted at 3:06 PM on April 22, 2009
by Tom Scheck
That's what GOP Rep. Tom Emmer wants certain county inspectors to wear when they inspect a property for the eradication of noxious weeds. Emmer successfully attached an amendment to the House Ag and Vets Budget bill that would require inspectors to wear distinctive clothing identifying them as members of the Weed Inspection and Mitigation Program.
Here's the amendment:
"The inspector or county-designated employee or the individual under contract under section 18.83, subdivision 6, must wear distinctive and uniform clothing when entering a person's land. The clothing must be approved by the commissioner and must include a highly visible patch or markings on the front and back of the shirt and jacket, if any, that includes an acronym identifying the inspector or county-designated employee or the individual under contract as working for the weed inspection and mitigation program."
Not so sure that amendment will survive the conference committee with the Senate.
Posted at 3:48 PM on April 22, 2009
by Tom Scheck
Democrat Al Franken attended an Earth Day event today. He answered a few reporter questions on his way to his car. You can listen to it here (audio is low in the beginning but gets louder as the interview picks up):
Posted at 4:46 PM on April 22, 2009
by Tim Pugmire
Officials with the state's two largest public employees unions say they've reached a tentative contract agreement with the state that saves jobs and prevents furloughs.
A news release from American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 5 and the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees says the tentative agreement was based on a mediator's proposal. They won't release details until the information is shared with union members.
State negotiators had proposed unpaid furloughs of up to 24 days a year early in the bargaining process. The unions stongly opposed that suggestion. Gov. Tim Pawlenty had also called for a salary freeze.
The two-year contract would cover 32,000 state workers. Union members will vote to ratify the contracts.
Here's what AFSCME Council 5 is telling its members about the tentative agreement:
Today AFSCME reached a tentative contract agreement with the State of Minnesota. We are one of only a few unions to beat back a governor's attempt to force state workers to take unpaid leave. Our deal will serve the common good by saving jobs and preserving the public services that Minnesotans need most during tough times. Our tentative agreement for 2010-11 includes:
No wage cuts.
Step increases the second year.
100% employer-paid health insurance for singles and 85% employer-paid coverage for families.
No change in health benefits: deductibles, co-pays and maximum out-of-pocket costs.
No increase in health insurance premiums the first year; 6.7% increase in second year.
A $125 employer contribution to each employee's benefit card to offset the
premium increase in year two.
This agreement was designed to mitigate layoffs by keeping money in agency budgets.
The union killed the employer's proposals to:
Force workers to take up to 48 days of unpaid leave.
Cut wages 1.5% both years.
Eliminate all step increases.
Shift $30 million of health care costs onto employees.
Work employees more than 8 hours a day without paying them overtime. This
take-back would have cost AFSCME members a total of $4 million in lost pay.
Posted at 8:59 PM on April 22, 2009
by Tom Scheck
Former DFL House Minority Leader Matt Entenza will formally announce his campaign for governor tomorrow morning. He'll make the announcement in his hometown of Worthington.
It was widely expected that Entenza would run for governor. He set up a website, formed an exploratory committee and has been traveling the state as a part of his think tank Minnesota 2020. Entenza left his position as board chair earlier this week.
Entenza will be running in a crowded pack of DFLers who hope to be governor. State Rep. Paul Thissen of Minneapolis, state Sen. John Marty of Roseville, state Sen. Tom Bakk of Cook, Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner, former state Sen. Steve Kelley of Hopkins and former U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton are all in the race. Minnesota House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman are also considered possible candidates.
GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty hasn't said whether he'll run for a third term. But his political director announced today that Pawlenty has a spiffy new website and a pretty weak twitter link (
1 followerFollowing 1 person?).
Update: Entenza's spokeswoman Bridget Cusick sent along this statement in reaction to my post on Entenza's investigation/researcher:
"Matt worked with a research firm that has provided research services to many Democratic candidates and political organizations (http://gragertresearch.com/political.html). While they exceeded their mandate in requesting public documents about Mr. Hatch, there was was never any "private investigator."