The tone of the legislative session could be set today when Gov. Dayton meets with two business groups. His afternoon meeting with the Minnesota Business Partnership is closed press. But he is also scheduled to address the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce tonight. What Dayton says to those leaders could determine whether he's willing to work with two organizations that spent heavily to defeat him in the election.
On Wednesday, Gov. Dayton signed an executive order that expands the federal Medicaid program to 95,000 more Minnesotans. That wasn't the surprise. The surprise was how Dayton handled the large volume of protesters who attended the event.
It's rare that protesters are allowed to attend a gubernatorial press conference. It's unheard of that a governor allows them to speak at the podium.
Minnesota is the top state in welfare spending.
Dayton appointed Minneapolis attorney Mike Rothman as his Commerce Commissioner.
Dayton appointed Minneapolis Attorney Myron Frans as his Revenue Commissioner. Frans won't serve until April.
The Legislature doesn't have much on its plate today. A House education committee meets today and there are no meetings scheduled for tomorrow.
Minnesota lawyers seek to block cuts to the state's justice system.
John Boehner officially became Speaker of the House yesterday when the GOP took control of the House.
President Obama is turning to experienced hands as he reshuffles his staff.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs is leaving the White House.
Democrats say the House GOP is exempting $1 trillion from the deficit.
GOP Rep. Erik Paulsen says government transparency and the economy are the top issues for the Republicans who took control of the U.S. House.
DFL Rep. Tim Walz discusses life in the minority.
GOP Rep. John Kline is one of the leaders in trying to repeal the federal health care law.
DFL Rep. Collin Peterson says efforts to repeal the health care law have "no chance."
Pawlenty for Prez Watch
Gov. Pawlenty is scheduled to be on "The View" next week.
Bachmann for Prez Watch
GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann isn't ruling out a bid for the White House.
Bachmann said she's not taking anything off the table during an appearance on Fox. Watch it here.
The Iowa Republican says Bachmann could win the Iowa Caucuses if she does run.
Posted at 9:53 AM on January 6, 2011
by Tim Pugmire
Filed under: Mark Dayton
Gov. Mark Dayton has hired a lobbyist for a conservation organization to lead the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Dayton today named Tom Landwehr, who is currently assistant state director of the Nature Conservancy, as his DNR commissioner.
Here's the news release:
Governor Dayton appointed Tom Landwehr as Commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources. Landwehr brings both an insider's knowledge and an outsider's perspective to the agency. He has served as a City Council Member and as an Instructor at the University of Minnesota's School of Natural Resources. He also served for seventeen years at DNR both as a scientist and as a Wildlife Manager. With a Master's Degree in Business, Landwehr understands that conservation and resource management must be properly balanced to promote economic prosperity and support jobs. Landwehr is widely respected by people in the conservation, recreation and business communities. He brings to the agency a reputation as someone with creative and innovative solutions to many of Minnesota's top natural resource issues. "I believe that Tom Landwehr has the years of experience in resource conservation and management, as well as 17 years of service in the DNR, to bring strong leadership to that vitally important agency," said Governor Dayton. "No other agency of state government affects as many Minnesotans' lives directly as the DNR. At its best, the agency is viewed as a wise steward of our state's natural resources for the benefit of all our citizens and for future generations. Tom's mandate from me is to bring out the best in the agency and all of its people."
"I am honored to serve Governor Dayton and the citizens of Minnesota in this critical position", said Landwehr. "By bringing together all those with a stake in the future of our state's resources, I hope to show that sound conservation and vital communities are a natural combination. We need to have a Department of Natural Resources that works for all Minnesotans."
Landwehr began his career at DNR in the early 1980's as a research biologist, and quickly moved on to greater responsibility as Wildlife Manager for over 5 years and as the Wetland Wildlife Program Leader for nearly ten. After leaving DNR in 1999 he was State Conservation Director for Ducks Unlimited in Minnesota and Iowa until 2003 and most recently has served as Assistant State Director for The Nature Conservancy in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. He has also served on the Shoreview City Council where he served from 1995 to 2002. He has been an active member of his community for many years, serving on multiple boards and commissions. He has an MS in Wildlife Management from the University of Minnesota, and an MBA from the Carlson School of Management. Landwehr lives in Shoreview with his wife Patty and 2 children, He is an avid outdoorsman and enjoys hunting, fishing, canoeing, camping and boating.
The new chair of the Senate Taxes Committee is not happy with Gov. Mark Dayton's pick to lead the state Revenue Department. It's not so much a problem with Myron Frans, whom Dayton named yesterday, as with the fact that Frans says he can't start the job until April.
Sen. Julianne Ortman, R-Chanhassen, issued a statement including this quote:
"This is not an appointment; it is inaction accompanied by a press release and an I.O.U from the Governor. We have a 6.2 billion dollar deficit, and a very strong disagreement between the Legislature and the Governor as to how to resolve it. "
"Improving our business climate and putting Minnesotans back to work can't wait until mid-April when Mr. Frans is available to do the job. We need department leaders in place that are ready, willing and able to join us in this effort."
In announcing the appointment yesterday Dayton said:
"I regret that he [Frans] cannot join our Administration on a full-time basis immediately. However, I respect his need, as the CEO of a successful and growing business, to conclude those responsibilities properly. In the meantime, he will advise me on a voluntary part-time basis, and the Revenue Department will be very capably managed by former Commissioner and now Deputy Commissioner, Dan Salamone."
Frans is president of Leeds Precision Instruments in Golden Valley.
Governor Mark Dayton told an audience of business leaders wary of tax hikes that the state needs more money to fix its budget problems. Dayton gave a 30 minute speech to the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce at its annual legislative dinner last night. He went through a litany of facts to explain why Minnesota should increase income taxes on top earners - a proposal that makes many business leaders nervous. Dayton said trying to erase the $6.2 billion dollar deficit with spending cuts alone will hurt the state in the long run.
"Eliminating all of the state agencies would save about $3.5 billion of just over half or the projected state deficit. And that is why I say respectfully to anyone who thinks this session is going to be easy and painless, please share your magic potion with the rest of us. Or else get to work reading and understanding the state budget as I have."
(Listen to Dayton's full speech here: Listen)
Dayton says pledges to not raise state taxes have resulted in higher property taxes. He says he will work to make the state's tax system more fair. But David Olson, with the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, says business won't support Dayton's plan.
"I spend my whole life on the road. I haven't run into too many people who say now is the time to raise my taxes. They're cutting health care benefits, they're cutting jobs, they're reducing their contributions to 401ks. They're trying to survive."
Olson says he'd like to see Dayton and the Legislature limit spending to the revenue the state has available. Republican Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch says her caucus will propose a plan next week that does that. Koch and GOP House Speaker Kurt Zellers say they can balance the budget without raising taxes.
KSTP's Tom Hauser moderated a panel with Koch, Zellers, DFL Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk and DFL House Minority Leader Paul Thissen. You can listen to that here: Listen