Posted at 8:52 AM on May 12, 2010
by Tom Scheck
Filed under: Daily Digest
Budget talks are inching forward to Monday's deadline. The latest deal is a GOP proposal that relies on making Gov. Pawlenty's unallotments permanent and using some of the money to pay back a K12 shift. The only problem is it doesn't fix the entire budget deficit. MPR, the Star Tribune, the Pi Press, Forum Communications and AP have stories.
3 Associate Supreme Court Justices are interviewing for the top job. The same three who sided with Pawlenty in the unallotment case.
The House passed a K12 bill that slightly opens the door to professionals to become teachers. But the House defeated attempts to include an alternative teacher licensure measure to the bill. DFL House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, the DFL endorsed candidate for governor, voted against the amendment. Rep. Tom Emmer, the GOP endorsed candidate didn't vote on the amendment.
Lawmakers continue to work on a health care compromise.
The House passed a bill that would give same sex couples some rights. The Senate is expected to approve it and send it to Pawlenty. Pawlenty's spokesman said this about the bill:
"This legislation is unnecessary and seems to be a political exercise to get the term 'domestic partner' into state law."
President Obama meets with Afghanistan's president.
Oil executives shift blame in the Senate.
The Obama Administration also wants to overhaul the offshore drilling agency.
The Star Tribune says the governor's race tilts on taxes.
Pawlenty for Prez Watch
The GOP picks Tampa for the RNC.
South Dakota Sen. John Thune is taking a low key approach to 2012.
Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, the state's largest group opposed to legalized abortion, is criticizing Tom Horner's stance on abortion. Horner, the Independence Party candidate for governor, was noncommittal on his position regarding legalized abortion during a news conference last week (watch video of it here). He wouldn't say whether Roe vs Wade is legal, wouldn't define himself as pro-choice or pro-life and would only answer specific answers on state issues when pressed. He said he wouldn't have signed the 24 hour waiting period and would keep the law the same when it comes to taxpayer funds for abortion (a key MCCL issue at the Legislature).
In a news release, MCCL executive director Scott Fischbach, called Horner pro-abortion.
"As a political spin doctor, you would think that Tom Horner could have come up with a better abortion position than 'I won't be labeled,'" stated Scott Fischbach, Executive Director of MCCL. "If a candidate opposes Woman's Right to Know and wants to force taxpayers to buy other people's abortions, he is clearly not 'in the middle' on the abortion issue, he is pro-abortion."
Fischbach emphasized Republican Tom Emmer is the only candidate with a 100% "pro-life voting record"
Horner responded to MCCL's criticism on his twitter feed.
MCCL misstates my positons, then attacks me. An organization sacrificing its credibility doesn't reduce abortions, it just reduces trust.
Side note: MCCL responds to Horner in a blog post.
What makes this interesting is that Horner is a long-time Republican who has switched to the Independence Party when he decided run for governor. MCCL may be attempting to define Horner to any of its members who could consider voting for Horner in November.
On Monday, DFL Sen. Tarryl Clark was the final vote on a budget balancing bill that would have cut government spending and raised income taxes on Minnesota's top earners. It usually doesn't matter when a person votes unless the vote is tied 33-33. For roughly twenty minutes the board was held open as the Senate waited for Clark to vote. Clark was out of the Senate chambers attending to what she said was a medical emergency for her child.
The vote could be considered a political liability for Clark, the DFL endorsed candidate for Congress in Minnesota's 6th Congressional District. On Tuesday, GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann's campaign manager, Gina Countryman, worked to display the difference in an e-mail to supporters:
At a time when the people of Minnesota and the 6th Congressional District are looking for solutions to the economic crisis, a clear distinction has been made between Michele Bachmann and her opponent. While Michele was touring the 6th Congressional District talking about job creation and other ways of improving the economic conditions around the district, her Democrat opponent cast the final and deciding vote in the State Senate to put $435 million in new taxes on the backs of the hard-working Minnesotans. Not only would this vote give Minnesota the distinction of the 5th highest tax bracket in the nation, but it would affect more than 40,000 small businesses across the state. At a time when the economy is already suffering, the last thing we should be doing is placing burdens on the job creators of our state.
The difference between Michele and her opponent could not be clearer. While Michele has a record of fighting for lower taxes, reducing government spending and ensuring that Minnesotans have the tools they need to succeed, "Taxin'" Tarryl Clark has had a career of voting for tax increases that would hit families and small businesses the hardest.
It isn't clear whether this particular vote will be a deciding factor in the race for Congress especially since Clark, the Assistant Majority Leader in the Minnesota Senate, has voted for other tax hikes during her time in the Senate. On Monday, she did release a statement defending her vote:
I believe in fiscal responsibility. Just like every family has to balance their checkbook, we have to balance our state's budget. Last year, we passed a balanced budget but the Governor rejected our approach. A year later, we find ourselves in an even deeper hole that must be addressed - and unfortunately, the easy answers are long gone. The budget we passed today is largely comprised of deep cuts. But it doesn't do what the Governor's unilateral actions did: leave countless Minnesotans out in the cold, bankrupt our schools, and pass the buck onto local property taxpayers.
I've always tried to do what was right, rather than what was safe, and fought tirelessly for the people I represent. It may be easier to just say no, but I've spent my career being a part of the solution - and that means making tough decisions. Among the tough choices we made are deep cuts to our state's budget - cuts that go all the way to the bone, to the tune of $737 million with this bill. Today's cuts are in addition to the billions in cuts over the last few years. These are real cuts that affect real people.
No doubt there will be overheated partisan attacks by those who have offered no solutions of their own. But I'm not here to advance my own personal agenda. I was elected to get the job done, to put Minnesota's fiscal house back in order - and that's what we did today.
Going forward, I will continue to seek common ground with the Governor and my colleagues from the other side of the aisle so that we can get the job done for the people who sent us here, and I will continue to work to ensure Minnesota's budget is balanced - and not on the backs of those middle class families who are already stretched thin in these tough economic times.
UPDATE: Clark's DFL opponent in the primary, Maureen Reed, sent this note to supporters touting her electability:
In a conservative leaning district, we cannot beat Michele Bachmann with another partisan politician. Unfortunately, Tarryl Clark's work as a state senate Assistant Majority Leader has given Michele Bachmann and the Minnesota Republican Party fuel to fire their partisan rhetoric and name calling.
In fact, months before the election, Bachmann has already attacked Senator Clark as a "tax and spend liberal." Today, the Star Tribune reported that Republicans have dubbed Senator Clark, "Taxin' Tarryl." On the other extreme, Tarryl Clark once referred to Michele Bachmann as a "devil in a blue dress." The name calling is just more politics as usual. This needs to change.
This race needs to focus on who is the best candidate for the residents of the sixth district - who is the best candidate to solve the problems of unemployment, home foreclosure and health care reform - Who is the democratic candidate that Michele Bachmann and the Republicans can't dismiss with their toxic partisan rhetoric
We cannot beat Michele Bachmann with a traditional candidate. We can win with Maureen Reed.
DFL House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher said today that two Republicans have mentioned that they could support an increase to the alcohol tax to help fix the state's budget problem. That means House Democrats would be just one vote shy of the ninety needed votes to override a potential veto.
"I don't know if alcohol, an alcohol tax, can get an override vote in the Minnesota House or the Minnesota Senate, Kelliher said. "But at least two members have indicated different versions of an alcohol tax that they might be interested in."
Kelliher, a candidate for governor, wouldn't identify the two Republicans who approached her.
She also left open the possibility that lawmakers could try to override Pawlenty's veto of a tax bill that cuts government spending and raises income taxes on Minnesota's top earners.
Democrats in the Minnesota Senate already have a veto-proof majority and DFL Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller said on Monday that Senate Democrats have always delievered the votes when necessary.
Governor Pawlenty has repeatedly said he won't support a tax increase of any kind.
Legislative leaders say they expect to meet with Gov. Pawlenty several times today but no meetings are scheduled as of yet.
DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar will host a fundraiser for Democrat Margaret Anderson Kelliher's campaign for governor on Saturday night. The fundraiser will be held at the home of Judi Dutcher, a 2002 candidate for governor who was also Mike Hatch's running mate in 2006. Some of Kelliher's former DFL opponents, including Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, DFL Rep. Paul Thissen, DFL Rep. Tom Rukavina, DFL Sen. John Marty and DFL Sen. Tom Bakk are also listed as co-hosts.
Kelliher is facing a DFL primary battle with former U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton and former legislator Matt Entenza.
The big question is whether Kelliher, who serves as Speaker of the Minnesota House, will be there. She may have a little bit of work to do since a budget deal hasn't been reached and midnight Sunday is the deadline to pass bills.
Here's the invite.
The governor's fishing opener is this weekend on Lake Kabtogama in norther Minnesota and a singer songwriter is documenting the event. The International Falls Daily Journal reports that a 59 year old construction worker named John Kurkosky wrote a song about the governor's fishing opener. Here's the chorus:
"The governor and his crew will only catch a few but me and my friends will catch Pawlenty. And I won't rub it in if Tim's catch is thin, I'll only say that we caught Pawlenty."
This will be Pawlenty's last time hosting the Governor's Fishing Opener but Kurkosky suggested in the song that he may be back in other capacities:
"I hope he has a great time and remembers this event because the next time he comes a fishing he might be president."
Here's the full song.
(h/t Bring Me the News)
Gov. Pawlenty says he plans to veto legislation that would grant end-of-life rights to same-sex partners.
The bill passed in the Minnesota Senate today (Wednesday) and in the House yesterday. It allows surviving same-sex partners and other unmarried couples to have control over the remains of their deceased partners. But Pawlenty says current law already allows for such designation. The Republican governor claims the bill's supporters are trying to stoke political controversy.
"I think the effort that's underway in this bill is simply a political game to get the concept or the wording domestic partner into state law," Pawlenty said. "And I would suggest the Legislature focus on addressing our budget issues rather than trying to tee up divisive social issues."
The sponsor of the Senate bill, Sen. Yvonne Prettner Solon, DFL-Duluth, said the measure is a matter of fairness. She urged the governor to reconsider his opposition.
The United Steelworkers announced today that they're backing former U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton's bid for governor. USW District Director Bob Bratulich said In a news release that Dayton has been committed to bringing more jobs to Minnesota.
"Mark has been there for working families' issues that impact every sector of our Union from pension reform, unfair trade, health care, and bringing Minnesota back to leading the nation in economic development and creating jobs which will be good for all of Minnesota."
This is the third union endorsement for Dayton. Here's the list:
Mark Dayton - The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 5, Teamsters Joint Council 32, United Steelworkers
Margaret Anderson Kelliher - Minnesota Association of Professional Employees, International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49, Greater Minnesota AFSCME Council 65, IBEW Minnesota, Unite Here, Minnesota Nurses Association, Education Minnesota
SEIU has yet to endorse