Posted at 7:32 AM on February 18, 2010
by Tom Scheck
Filed under: Daily Digest
The Minnesota House votes today on a bill that would extend General Assistance Medical Care.
There's reaction to the MN Chamber's decision to sue for clarification regarding the state's campaign law that forbids businesses from spending money on campaigns. Some DFLers aren't happy with the lawsuit.
Gov. Pawlenty met privately yesterday with the chairs of the Capital Investment Committee to provide direction on the bonding bill. He's open to a bill that reaches $725 million, which is $275 million less than what DFLers are proposing). The conference committee could meet as early as today.
The Taxpayers League of Minnesota is targeting Republicans who voted for the bonding bill.
The poorest of the poor will lose their cash assistance under Gov. Pawlenty's budget plan. The Administration hasn't outlined how the new program will work.
Will Pawlenty's tax cut proposal generate jobs?
Lawmakers are proposing bills to track missing persons.
A bill seeks to protect school money.
Pawlenty chides the state teacher's union.
DFL Rep. Keith Ellison challenges Pawlenty's comments regarding the state's teacher's union.
Minnesota Republicans want to create a sunset commission to cut government spending.
A report by the Legislative Auditor shows problems in the state's workforce programs.
St. Paul's Union Depot gets stimulus cash.
A new report says Minnesota foreclosures dropped.
The Obama Administration makes a big stimulus push.
President Obama signs an executive order today that would create a fiscal commission.
Obama also meets with the Dalai Lama today.
Two more Taliban leaders have been detained.
House Republicans are pushing for an open jobs meeting.
DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar supports reconciliation on the health care overhaul bill.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers, including GOP Rep. John Kline, intend to rewrite the federal No Child Left Behind law.
GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann will speak at CPAC on
Conservatives push the "Mount Vernon Statement,"
2010 Race for Governor
Republican Tom Emmer will campaign in Red Wing on Friday.
DFL Rep. Paul Thissen will speak at Drinking Liberally tonight.
2010 Race for Congress
A Spicer Psychiatrist will challenge DFL Rep. Collin Peterson.
Pawlenty for Prez Watch
Gov. Pawlenty wants President Obama to invite governors to his health care summit.
The Hotline says Pawlenty has the most to prove to CPAC.
Pawlenty is also on CPAC's straw poll ballot.
The Iowa Republican handicaps the Iowa Caucuses and puts Pawlenty at third.
Republican candidate for governor Marty Seifert has selected an Anoka County commissioner as his lieutenant governor running mate.
Seifert announced his selection today of Rhonda Sivarajah. Here's the campaign news release:
Marty Seifert announced Anoka County Commissioner Rhonda Sivarajah as his running mate today at a press conference in St Paul. Sivarajah has served as the district 6 Anoka County Commissioner since being elected in 2002.
Marty Seifert said, Rhonda has real world experience running a small business, life experience raising a family, and practical experience as an Anoka county commissioner with a record of downsizing government through creative solutions.
Rhonda Sivarajah added, I am proud to join Marty Seifert's effort to bring conservative values to Minnesota government. With our combined experience and vision, I am confident we have what it takes to lead a successful campaign for Minnesota's highest office.
A pro labor group is taking on Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann is a radio ad that's being heard today in Minnesota's 6th district.
Americans United for Change based the ad around Bachmann's recent comment that future generations should be "weaned" off of Social Security and Medicare. A news release from the group said that ad time was purchased on three St. Cloud radio stations.
"We're making a shining example of Bachmann because I believe she's the first or among the very few Congressional Republicans (even excluding Minority Leader Boehner) to enthusiastically embrace Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)'s misguided alternative budget proposal that would dismantle Social Security with a privatization scheme and replace Medicare with a voucher system," wrote Jeremy Funk, Americans United for Change communications director.
Republican Marty Seifert announced today that Anoka County Commissioner Rhonda Sivarajah will be his running mate in his bid for governor. Sivarajah has served three terms as commissioner and praised Seifert's leadership during his time in the Legislature.
There are several points that popped up during the news conference. Sivarajah said she ran for Anoka County Commissioner because she shared the same frustration as the members of the Tea Party movement. Seifert also said balancing the ticket was important to him (Sivarajah is a female from the suburbs who doesn't have experience in the State Capitol). She said she did vote for Bill Clinton in 1992 "but not the second time."
Finally, they sidestepped a question regarding differences. She would only say that Seifert likes Star Wars and she doesn't.
Note - I'll post the q and a once the video is encoded.
Here's the q and a with reporters:
A coalition of organizations that represent Minnesota's 20,000 firefighters says Pawlenty is not keeping his promise to protect public safety. They say he's using $9.9 million in fire fighting training money to balance the state's budget.
Pawlenty is using funds in the Fire Safety Account as part of his plan to erase a $1.2 billion budget deficit. The money is created from a fee on homeowner and commercial insurance policies (page 33 of his budget plan).
Tom Thornberg, president of the Minnesota Association of Professional Firefighters, says Pawlenty isn't keeping his promise to protect public safety programs.
"Make no mistake, the governor's budget does not public safety. The governor's budget does not protect fire fighters and most assuredly the governor's budget does not protect families. We can't do our jobs if we are not properly trained and equipped."
Gov. Pawlenty is using a mix of one-time money, spending cuts and federal funds that aren't yet available to balance the state's budget.
Pawlenty's spokesman couldn't be reached for comment. I'll post his response if/when he does comment. Here's a statement from Gov. Pawlenty's spokesman, Brian McClung:
We recognize there are some difficult reductions in the Governor's budget balancing plan. Budget analysts at MMB determined that the Fire Safety Account has a structural surplus of $4 million per year. The proposal uses $9.9 million from that account to help balance the budget. However, $4 million was already allocated last year and another $2 million will remain available, for a total of $6 million for firefighter training and other uses during this budget period.
The Governor's budget preserved core state public safety programs and protected funding for areas like the State Patrol, state prison guards, and other programs.
The Minnesota Senate quickly passed the House version of bill to extend General Assistance Medical Care for another eighteen months. They took the action just hours after the Minnesota House passed the bill. The bill is now headed to Gov. Pawlenty for him to sign or veto the legislation.
The Senate's quick action on the bill is a surprise since DFL state Rep. Erin Murphy thought the House and Senate would have to negotiate their differences on it. GOP Sen. Julie Rosen also said Senate Republicans had no idea that they were taking a final vote on the bill today.
Part of the plan may be to jam Governor Pawlenty. Pawlenty is scheduled to be in Washington D.C. tonight (he has a CPAC reception at 7:30 EST) through Tuesday morning for the CPAC conference and the National Governors Association's Winter Meetings.
Under the Minnesota Constitution (Article 4, section 23) the governor has three full days to sign or veto the bill (that includes Saturday). Michelle Timmons with the Revisor's office said it's highly likely that her office will engross and present the bill to the governor's office today. That means Pawlenty will have Friday, Saturday and Monday to act on the bill. He has to file it with the Secretary of State's office and notify the body that the bill originated in (Senate) by midnight Monday.
If Pawlenty doesn't take action on the by that time, the bill will become law. The governor told reporters that he's returning to Minnesota on Tuesday morning. I'm checking to see how they'll handle the issue if it's sent to him.
Update: The governor's office could potentially send the bill to Washington D.C. for Pawlenty take action on it.
Tick tick tick...
Update: An official in the Minnesota House says the House Speaker and the President of the Senate signed the bill and it's now on its way to the governor's office.
Gov. Pawlenty's spokesman said Pawlenty will veto the GAMC bill. Here's his e-mail to reporters explaining why (and that he'll issue veto message from Washington D.C.):
TO: Capitol Press Corps
FROM: Brian McClung
RE: Governor Pawlenty to veto GAMC bill
Several of you have asked me for a response to the legislature's passage of the General Assistance Medical Care (GAMC) bill.
The Revisor's Office presented the bill to our office this afternoon. As you know, the Governor has three days, following the date of presentment and not including Sundays, in which to take action on a bill. That window begins immediately and runs through the end of Monday.
For your background information, vetoed bills do not require a signature. In issuing a veto, the Governor does not sign the bill and does not file it with the Secretary of State. Article IV, Section 23 of the Minnesota Constitution says, "If he vetoes a bill, he shall return it with his objections to the house in which it originated." http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/CCO/RULES/MNCON/Article4.htm
Governor Pawlenty is in Washington, D.C. at this time. He is preparing a veto message with assistance from our Washington, D.C. office and will sign that veto message. The veto message, along with the bill, will be returned to the Senate as soon as possible, either tonight or tomorrow morning.
Here is a statement you can attribute to me:
Governor Pawlenty will veto this bill tonight or early tomorrow morning. He is currently preparing a veto message with assistance from our Washington, D.C. office.
Governor Pawlenty is vetoing this bill because it irresponsibly spends $170 million, further exacerbating the state's budget problems, and includes virtually no reform. The legislature has chosen to pass a massive spending bill without first crafting a comprehensive, balanced budget solution. They've got things backwards. Both DFLers and Republicans who voted for this bill should be held accountable for taking out the state's checkbook when there's not only no money, but a deficit.
Shortly after Pawlenty announced through a spokesman that he would veto the bill, three Democrats in the Minnesota House lined up outside reporter's doors to say they won't stand for it. DFL Representative Paul Thissen of Minneapolis said Democrats, hospital officials and advocates for the poor will work to convince three Republicans to override.
"They're going to be hearing from their hospitals and their communities and I think for that reason we are going to pick up the votes to override this veto and we should."
38 Republicans in the House voted for the bill but GOP House Minority Leader Kurt Zellers promised his caucus will uphold the veto. He said he thinks any solution to the program should be included in a plan to fix the state's $1.2 billion budget deficit.
"We think it's part of a bigger budget solution. This should be a part of it, the GAMC fix or a new program should be a part of that fix. We're going to work together again, just like we did with this version of it to find a solution that not only the governor can agree to but the house and senate can agree to as well."
Democrats have a veto proof majority in the Minnesota Senate so the true test will be whether House Democrats in the House can muster the votes needed to override.
Gov. Pawlenty is scheduled to be NBC's Meet the Press this Sunday. Pawlenty is also scheduled to speak to the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday morning and will attend the National Governors Association's Winter meetings over the weekend.
Pawlenty is scheduled to keynote a dinner to Republicans in Washington state in April.
Gov. Pawlenty acted quickly on his threat to veto the GAMC bill. In a letter to the Legislature, Pawlenty wrote:
"I initially vetoed the program in May, 2009 because its costs were skyrocketing out of control, and the program was badly in need of reform. Senate File 2168 does not represent meaningful reform and does not address fundamental costs issues. It essentially re-established GAMC in its prior form, while reducing provider reimbursement rates by 50 percent."
You can read his veto letter here.
Gov. Pawlenty participated in a conference call with Nevada reporters this afternoon from Washington D.C. to rip President Obama and Nevada Sen. Harry Reid. Obama will be in Nevada tonight.
Pawlenty is in D.C. this weekend for the Conservative Political Action Conference. He's scheduled to speak in Nevada next week.
After Pawlenty's opening statement, the operator opened it up to questions. After a minute and a half of silence, I figured no other reporters were asking questions so I buzzed in to ask why he was vetoing the GAMC bill. Here's the q and a:
Scheck: "Hey governor, I know you're talking with the Nevada delegation, but there is some news in Minnesota. Your spokesman just sent out a note saying you're going to veto the GAMC bill. Can you say why?"
Pawlenty: "We're trying to limit this to the Nevada press but Brian McClung has outlined the reasons for that in a communication to you and if hasn't he will shortly."
Scheck: "Can you identify what your main objections are to it?"
Pawlenty: "It will be the ones that Brian identifies for you when you get that information if you haven't already." Listen
No other reporters (from Nevada or Minnesota) asked questions on the call...
It's been a hectic day but I wanted to post Tom Emmer's comments regarding his decision on a possible running mate.
Emmer said he's not focused on selecting or screening candidates at this time. He said he's more worried about on convincing delegates to back him at the party convention.
"I think this happens in sports all of the time. People who are coaching are trying to change their game plan based on what the other team is doing. That's not what we're doing. We're going to stay on focus on what we're going to do and we'll continue to raise the level of the discussion as far as the Republican endorsement is concerned."
Emmer made his comments after his top GOP rival, Marty Seifert, announced that he picked Anoka County Commissioner Rhonda Sivarajah as his running mate. Both Emmer and Seifert say they'll drop out of the race if party activists don't back them at the State Party convention on April 30th.