Posted at 6:53 AM on February 9, 2010
by Tom Scheck
Filed under: Daily Digest
The Senate is set to vote on a nearly $1 billion bonding bill today.
Gov. Pawlenty will hold a news conference today to announce that he wants longer prison terms for sex offenders.
House and Senate DFLers will introduce legislation to limit Pawlenty's unallotment powers.
MMB officials say quick action on a bonding bill may complicate the state's cash flow.
State Economist Tom Stinson says unemployment is likely to remain high.
The State Ag Commissioner's stance on an EPA plan regarding global warming is drawing criticism.
The Minnesota Senate wants to quickly pass a bill to fix GAMC.
The House Taxes Committee approved a measure that would allow taxpayers deduct donations to Haiti earthquake relief efforts when they file their 2009 taxes this spring.
Officials representing the southeastern Twin Cities say they should be next in line for a rail project.
There's an effort to redesign state government and lawmakers want citizen input.
A former member of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was at the Capitol Monday to tell lawmakers now is not the time to repeal the state's ban on new nuclear power plants.
MnDOT remains short of the goal of hiring minority contractors.
The Rochester Tea Party Patriots are pushing for voter id at the polls.
President Obama hits his lowest approval mark.
The U.S. will commit $78.5 million to try to halt the Asian carp in the Great Lakes.
House Republicans may refuse to participate in President Obama's health care summit.
AP wonders whether the summit is just for show.
RIP John Murtha.
GOP Rep. Erik Paulsen held a jobs fair on Monday.
Think Progress says GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann said "we must wean everybody off of social security."
Bachmann's office is also collecting valentine's for veterans.
DFL Rep. Jim Oberstar hears about the success of a drug court in International Falls.
2010 Race for Governor
Republican Tom Emmer pushes a horse-lover license plate.
Eight of the candidates for governor participated in a forum on KFAI last night.
The Star Tribune says the MNGOP feels like it's gathering steam.
Pawlenty for President Watch
Gov. Pawlenty arrived in Alabama on Friday with a $100,000 check to the Alabama GOP to buy some goodwill. But who paid for it?
Gov. Pawlenty spoke in North Carolina on Monday morning. You can listen to his speech and the q and a with reporters here.
Mike Huckabee will visit Minnesota in April.
Sarah Palin had a cheat sheet on her hands during the Tea Party convention.
Gov. Pawlenty said this morning that the $100,000 check he delivered to the Alabama GOP on Friday night was from Texas homebuilder Bob Perry.
If you think the name sounds familiar, it should. Perry is a big-time GOP donor who contributes to the Republican Governors Association and several conservative 527 groups (including the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth organization in 2004). He also gave $500,000 to A Stronger America Minnesota, an independent 527 that worked to get Pawlenty reelected in 2006.
Pawlenty says he met with Perry a few weeks ago and mentioned that he was speaking to the Alabama Republican Party. He said Perry, who gave to the Alabama GOP in the past, asked him to deliver the check to the group:
"I understand they (Alabama GOP) asked him for the contribution. I was there on behalf of the RGA in my capacity as vice-chair of the RGA and he said 'Look, they asked me to give this contribution would you deliver it to them?' I said sure."
Pawlenty said he met with Perry a few weeks ago when he was raising money in Houston and Dallas on behalf of the RGA and his federal political action committee. At the time, the spokesman for Pawlenty's PAC would only say that Pawlenty was raising money in Texas but wouldn't provide additional details.
Pawlenty's meeting with Perry also signifies that he's meeting with some wealthy GOP donors as he considers whether to run for president in 2012. As I wrote in a 2006 profile about Perry, one campaign finance watchdog called Perry "an 800 pound gorilla."
At that time I also noted on the blog how many groups he contributed in the 2006 election cycle.
Governor Tim Pawlenty is proposing tougher penalties for sex offenders that would more than double their time in prison.
Pawlenty announced today that he wants to increase the presumptive sentence for those convicted of first degree sexual conduct from 12 years to 25 years. The Republican governor said the move would result in long-term savings because prison costs are significantly less than civil commitments to the state's sex offender treatment program.
"Sex offenders continue to be a scourge to public safety across this country and in Minnesota. IN many cases they are individuals who we have a very difficult time trying to remediate or change behaviors. They are individuals who in my view need to be taken off the streets and locked up for as long as possible."
Pawlenty also announced a new Internet safety education program aimed at warning children about the dangers of online predators. State officials will distribute program materials to all public schools in the next two weeks.
Late last week, DFL legislative leaders said they won't act on a Vikings stadium proposal until Gov. Pawlenty puts his own proposal forward. This morning, Pawlenty said the plan won't be included in his supplemental budget plan and that he doesn't have a stand alone proposal.
The political hot potato is up in the air like a Chris Kluwe punt.
The Chair of the Minnesota Republican Party issued a news release criticizing the Minnesota Senate for voting for a $1 billion bonding bill:
"Today's vote by the Senate to add to our state's debt is irresponsible and it is wrong. Minnesotans can't afford more wasteful government spending and business as usual pork barrel projects. Instead of providing critical funding for the sex offender facility at Moose Lake, this bill is replete with millions for sculpture gardens and gorilla and polar bear exhibits. Minnesotans deserve better."
It appears that nine Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Dave Senjem, are getting caught in Sutton's crossfire. Republican Senators Steve Dille, Dennis Frederickson, Joe Gimse, Bill Ingebrigtson, Michael Jungbauer, Paul Koering, Gen Olson, Pat Pariseau and Dave Senjem all voted for the bill.
Two Democrats, Satveer Chaudhary and John Doll, voted against the bill.
Several DFL members of the Minnesota Senate say something happened that rarely occurs. Their phones within the Senate chambers were ringing.
That may seem odd but the phones, according to members, are only supposed to be used by Senate members and staff. But at least six Democrats say they got calls today from unhappy constituents. They were being urged to vote against a $1 billion bonding bill. DFL Sen. Don Betzold of Fridley says he got a call while the Senate was debating the bill.
"I've never gotten a phone call like that from the floor," Betzold said. "I have never gotten a phone call like that from a citizen, a lobbyist, anyone, until today."
DFL Sen. Terri Bonoff of Minnetonka said she got six calls from constituents. She said the callers said they were contacted by the Minnesota Republican Party and were patched through to their senators.
DFL Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller said the calls are a violation of Senate protocol. He said the phone numbers for the phones are unlisted and are only meant for internal business. He urged the Senate to stop the practice at the end of today's floor debate.
But it doesn't look like that will happen. Michael Brodkorb, a spokesman for Senate Republicans who also serves as Deputy Chair of the MNGOP, said he didn't know the calls were taking place until after the fact. He also said he didn't give the internal phone numbers to the MNGOP. But Brodkorb defended the practice stressing that the phones are paid for with taxpayer dollars.
"I don't know that's it's problematic," Brodkorb said. "They're public phones but I don't know how often the party is going to do it or not."
He said it's up to MNGOP Chair Tony Sutton and MNGOP executive director Ryan Griffin to decide whether the practice will continue.
Question of the day: What do you think? Should members of the Minnesota Senate get calls on the floor?
A committee in the Minnesota House approved a bill that would move Minnesota's primary election to August 10th. The bill's next stop is the House floor. The full Senate is also set to vote on the bill. Pawlenty has indicated that he supports the August primary.
Posted at 7:13 PM on February 9, 2010
by Paul Wenzel