Posted at 6:55 AM on June 25, 2009
by Tom Scheck
Filed under: Daily Digest
An official with MMB says they may propose some changes to the Governor's unallotment plan as early as today.
The Pi Press interviewed Gov. Pawlenty. He laid his budget cuts at the feet of DFLers.
AP says the 35W bridge memorial is making slow progress because of a lack of fundraising.
A meeting is the next step in determining Iron Range mesothelioma.
The U of M Regents agree to job cuts and an alcohol ban.
A deadline looms for Minnesota's "clean diesel" grant applications.
Smart Politics wonders whether newly elected GOP House Minority Leader Kurt Zellers is politically vulnerable.
Zellers will appear on MPR's Midday today at 11.
MPR says the climate bill faces a tough road despite DFL Rep. Collin Peterson's support.
The Hill says the changes to the climate bill were made because of the power of the ethanol lobby.
President Obama will begin to lay the groundwork for the immigration debate.
Conservatives criticize President Obama's town hall meeting on health care.
A tax on health care benefits also advances.
The female members of the Senate push for the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar is mentioned.
The U.S. House Labor panel approves a pension plan bill. GOP Rep. John Kline is mentioned.
DFL Rep. Keith Ellison's privately paid trip to Mecca prompts a debate.
Several DFL members of the delegation help launch efforts to change the trade law.
Lawmakers, like DFL Rep. Jim Oberstar, urge Obama to drop his transportation plan.
2008 Race for U.S. Senate
DFL House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, who is considering a run for governor, visited Mankato.
MinnPost says GOP state Rep. Laura Brod could be an intriguing candidate for governor.
Will DFL Rep. Betty McCollum face a primary opponent because of her stance on health care legislation?
Reuters has a fact box on the possible candidates in 2012.
Posted at 7:22 AM on June 25, 2009
by Tom Scheck
A government watchdog group is giving Minnesota a failing grade for having weak public disclosure laws for state lawmakers. The Center for Public Integrity released the report today on where every state stands.
You can read why Minnesota got such poor marks here.
Here's why it matters:
Posted at 10:23 AM on June 25, 2009
by Tom Scheck
The recent flap regarding South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford's whereabouts raises plenty of questions about the whereabouts of MN Gov. Tim Pawlenty. The Minnesota governor's official schedule released to the media often says only "no public events listed." In fact for the past four days that's what his schedule has said.
I found Pawlenty yesterday at an event that was not listed on his schedule. I asked him whether Sanford's problem would prompt him to provide more information about his daily schedule. Here's what he said:
"I try to always be in touch so regardless of where I am, I have communications capabilities so my office always knows where I'm going."
But Pawlenty didn't answer my underlying question of whether he would provide more information about his whereabouts on his daily public schedule. It's been a problem for the press corps as you can see by this MPR story on his travel in 2008.
Rep. Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, is on Midday at 11. Zellers was elected House Minority Leader Tuesday night. He's taking over the job from Marty Seifert, who is running for governor.
MPR's Stephanie Hemphill reports Gov. Tim Pawlenty opposes the climate change bill that Democrats in the U.S. House are trying to pass. Here are the major features of the bill courtesy of the Associated Press:
- Reducing greenhouse gases by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050 through a cap-and-trade program that allows pollution permits to be bought and sold.
- Limiting emissions from major industrial sources, including power plants, factories, refineries and electricity and natural gas distributors. Emissions from agriculture would be excluded from the cap.
- Controlling carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels and limiting six other greenhouse gases.
- Allowing companies to meet emission-limiting targets by investing in offset projects such as tree planting and forest protection.
- Requiring electric utilities to produce at least 12 percent of their power from renewable sources such wind and solar energy by 2020, and requiring as much as 8 percent in energy efficiency savings.
- Imposing tighter performance standards on new coal-fired power plants and providing $1 billion a year in development money for capturing carbon dioxide from such plants.
- Establishing standards that will require new buildings to be 30 percent more energy-efficient by 2012 and 50 percent more efficient by 2016.
- Protecting consumers from rising energy costs by giving rebates and credits to low-income households.
Posted at 1:24 PM on June 25, 2009
by Tim Pugmire
Attempts to interview Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., about his privately-paid trip to Mecca last year have been unsuccessful. The Star Tribune reported today that Ellison had not disclosed the cost of the trip, which was picked up by the Muslim American Society of Minnesota. Ellison's spokesman, Rick Jauert, said the congressman was tied up all day in a subcommittee hearing. He sent this statement instead:
"In the summer of 2008 Congressman Ellison received an invitation to participate in a trip to Saudi Arabia to observe the Hajj, a religious pilgrimage. Congressman Ellison was invited by a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that neither employs nor retains a federal lobbyist. The inviting organization has sponsored trips of community leaders to the Hajj in the past.
In accordance with the guidelines of the U.S. House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, Congressman Ellison's office requested guidance from the Committee regarding the invitation Congressman Ellison received.
The bi-partisan Standards of Official Conduct Committee approved Congressman Ellison's participation in the trip stating, 'This trip is not subject to the private sponsor certification, Committee approval, and post-travel disclosure requirements for officially-connected travel.'
The trip included no official business, and therefore did not constitute 'officially-connected travel.' In addition, no part of the trip included tax-payer expense.
Congressman Ellison's office reported the travel in accordance with the Committee's guidelines and is in compliance with the Committee's rules and regulations. In short, Congressman Ellison followed all of the rules and procedures of the U.S. House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct."
Posted at 3:15 PM on June 25, 2009
by Tim Pugmire
The League of Minnesota Cities announced today that Rochester Mayor Ardell F. Brede was elected the organization's new president. The election took place at the league's annual conference in St. Paul. Brede will serve as president for 2009 and 2010. He previously served first vice president and chaired the organization's environment Brede has been Mayor of Rochester since 2003, and is a former employee of the Mayo Clinic.
Posted at 5:42 PM on June 25, 2009
by Tom Scheck
Tom Hanson, the commissioner of Minnesota Management and Budget, said the plan keeps in place most of the major portions of Governor Pawlenty's plans to erase a $2.7 billion budget deficit. The changes increase the level of cuts to some health and human services programs but restores funding for a private mental health facility in Minneapolis and the White Earth Band of the Ojibwe. Hanson said they made the changes after listening to stakeholders and lawmakers
"Whenever you come up with any kind of budget plan, it's always better to vet it a little bit and We vet it internally and then we try to vet it externally like we did."
Hanson said the cuts in state aid to local government will mean the state will pay $6 million more in property tax refunds to taxpayers. Hanson will hold another meeting with lawmakers next week but said they have already met the consultation requirement specified in law. He said they'll proceed with their unallotment plans on July first.
You can read the entire letter here.