Posted at 6:26 AM on January 4, 2011
by Tom Scheck
Filed under: Daily Digest
Republicans will take control of both the Minnesota House and the Minnesota Senate for the first time in nearly forty years when the legislative session begins today.
Lawmakers will have the difficult task of putting together a budget that erases a $6.2 billion deficit and they say they can do it without raising taxes. That puts them at odds with Gov. Dayton who is calling for a tax hike. The deficit will put all of the recent pledges of compromise to a test.
On Monday, Dayton urged compromise during his inaugural speech but continued to push his tax increase plan. He said he'll sign such a budget balancing bill that doesn't include tax hikes if it doesn't increase property taxes or "destroy" schools, hospitals and public safety (You can watch Dayton's speech here).
GOP Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch and GOP House Speaker Kurt Zellers both say they think they can pass a budget that will meet Dayton's challenge.
Interesting nugget: This will be the first time in decades that the governor and the legislative leaders will all be new to their positions.
MPR takes a look at one major issue facing the Legislature - improving the state's business climate.
The new Legislature may repeal the ban on new nuclear and coal power plants.
Some states are turning to laws to curb labor unions.
Republicans in the House are looking to make good on their pledge to cut $100 billion in federal spending.
The House GOP is sending President Obama a signal with their plans to repeal the health care law.
Slate says House Republicans may have created a bigger problem for themselves by pushing GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann aside.
An investigative reporter who specializes in intelligence ponders on the Washington Post whether Bachmann will divulge classified information she receives while serving on the House Intelligence Committee.
DFL Rep. Collin Peterson won't vote for a wholesale repeal of the health care law.
Some deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico will be allowed to resume.
GOP Chairmen also spell out a long list of issues they plan to investigate.
The White House is considering Bill Daley for Chief of Staff.
Pawlenty for Prez Watch
The Atlantic Monthly takes a look at Pawlenty's health care record.
ABC's Terry Moran of Nightline is preparing to interview Pawlenty.
Pawlenty has also been invited to attend an Illinois event honoring Ronald Reagan. The event could become a 2012 cattle call.
Minnesota State Patrol sergeant Jim Wellnitz has now walked his explosive-sniffing dog, Sunny, through both the House and Senate floors -- a routine first-day, pre-session check. So the Legislature is officially as safe for democracy as it's going to get.
Governor Dayton says he plans to propose a $1 billion bonding bill to the Legislature by the end of the month. Dayton wants the Legislature to quickly pass a public works bill to help spur economic development in Minnesota's construction sector. Dayton says half of his proposal will include his preferred projects. He says the Legislature can put forward their projects in the other half. Dayton says he'll challenge those who argue that bonding bills are "debt bills" that don't spur private development.
"There's a lack of recognition at least by some in the comments I've seen and read so far that these are public sector jobs. This is public bonding that goes to private sectors jobs. Private sector contractors."
GOP Senator Dave Senjem says the Republican controlled Legislature may pass a bonding bill this session but says the main focus is balancing the budget.
Posted at 4:16 PM on January 4, 2011
by Tim Nelson
It wasn't just the Republicans that brought a new look to the Legislature as it opened its 87th session this afternoon. More than a half dozen lawmakers came to the Capitol with a little extra insulation for the first day.
Behold below: The Beards of 2011.
By our count, at least a half-dozen lawmakers, DFLers and Republicans alike, brought a little more than their usual visage to the floors of their august bodies today. (Click on the photos for a bigger version.)
They are, from left to right:
Reps. Mark Buesgens (R-Jordan), Tony Cornish (R-Good Thunder), Kent Eken (DFL-Twin Valley), Sen. John Harrington (DFL-St. Paul), and Reps. Terry Morrow (DFL-St. Peter) and Tony Sertich (DFL-Chisolm).
UPDATE, 1/5: Hat tip to Legislative Reference Library Director Robbie LaFleur (see her comment below). After she saw the gallery of new beards, LaFleur noted a real turning point in the Capitol's hirsute history: the day Rep. Frank Kelly of Medelia had his official portrait taken. This posting might officially mark a bad hair CENTURY for Rep. Kelly. (Click on the picture for a full appreciation.)