The chair of the Senate Tax Committee is looking at tax expenditures to help balance the state's budget.
Legislators hear public criticism of Gov. Dayton's tax plans in a Minnesota House committee.
A developer floats an idea for a casino in downtown Minneapolis. The Minnesota Indian Gaming Association says it is opposed to any gambling expansion.
The PoliGraph says Governor Dayton's proposed tax hike is big but may not be the biggest.
The New York Times takes a look at the lengths New York City tax administrators will go to determine the length of time a person lives in New York City versus their other home. Gov. Dayton's tax bill tightens the regulations on how long someone can live in MN without paying taxes.
Gov. Dayton is headed to the National Governors Association meetings in Washington D.C. today. Dayton will also meet with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today. He meets with President Obama on Friday.
There are some worries that a federal government shutdown could slow census information to Minnesota.
A House Environment panel may overhaul the LCCMR projects recommended by the legislative-citizen advisory group.
Dayton says early planning is key to flood preparations.
Profits at Minnesota banks have tripled in 2010.
The DNR is likely to cut the number of moose hunt permits in half.
A new report on broadband availability in Minnesota shows huge disparities.
An investor group seeks land for an Iron Range racetrack that could include a casino.
Wisconsin's governor revealed his strategy during a prank call by someone posing as one of the Koch brothers.
DFL Rep. Keith Ellison calls Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker a "dictator."
Voices for Conservative Women, a conservative group based in MN, launched a petition drive supporting Walker.
The Obama Administration drops its defense of the federal Defense of Marriage law that bans same sex marriage.
President Obama dispatched Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for talks on Libya.
The U.S. and the EU are threatening Libya with sanctions.
Iran's influence is growing as unrest continues in the Middle East.
Federal agencies are preparing for a shutdown.
House Republicans put forward a $2 billion a week in cuts bill that would keep the government running.
DFL Rep. Betty McCollum will make three stops in her district to highlight the impact of the House budget cuts.
A Wall St. report says the House budget cuts would be a drag on the economy.
A Minnesotan will be part of President Obama's jobs council.
Former State Epidemiologist Michael Osterholm says food safety improvements are overblown.
The EPA issues scaled back emission rules.
DFL Sen. Al Franken visited Morris to discuss renewable energy.
GOP Rep. John Kline discussed his recent trip to Afghanistan and the budget battle in Congress on MPR's Midday.
McCollum missed more than half of the votes on amendments to the spending bill. McCollum was excused from the votes because she was in Yemen over the weekend.
DFL Rep. Keith Ellison will speak today about tolerance and civility at an interfaith forum in Minneapolis.
2012 Race for President
GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann tops Tim Pawlenty in a Gallup presidential poll.
The Hill takes a look at how GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann is crafting her message for a potential 2012 run.
Bachmann objects to the Southern Poverty Law Center's definition of a hate group. The SPLC lists Bachmann on its militia enablers list.
Tim Pawlenty says President Obama can be beaten in 2012.
Pawlenty made his comments on Fox News. He also bashed Democrats in the Wisconsin Senate for fleeing Madison.
Pawlenty also issued a "Stand with Walker" video that encourages people to sign a petition. FYI - such petitions are then used by politicians (on both political sides) as fundraising tools for their respective political campaigns.
Sarah Palin will travel to India.
Mike Huckabee rips Mitt Romney and the Massachusetts health care law.
The unit was assigned to Afghanistan to "assess the effects of U.S. propaganda on the Taliban." But they were soon ordered by Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, who's in charge of training Afghan troops, to use their expertise to influence visiting lawmakers and pressure them into providing more funding for the war effort.
The campaign reportedly targeted VIPs traveling to Afghanistan, including Franken, fellow Sens. John McCain, Joe Lieberman, Jack Levin and Jack Reed as well as members of the House of Representatives, members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and foreign dignitaries.
The story says of the psy-ops campaign directed at lawmakers, "there is no way to tell what, if any, influence it had on American policy," but notes that one of the biggest supporters of increased funding for the war effort was Sen. Carl Levin, one of the campaign's targets.
The unit's commander, Lt. Col. Michael Holmes, tried to resist the orders, which he considered illegal under U.S. law. When Holmes raised his concerns, he was reportedly countermanded by higher-ups and disciplined.
A spokesman for Gen. Caldwell told Rolling Stone categorically denied the magazine's assertions.
The story was written by journalist Michael Hastings, who broke the news last year that members of Afghanistan commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal's staff were disparaging the Obama Administration's policies in the region. McChrystal was relieved of his duties and resigned his commission after the story came out.
MPR News has asked Sen. Franken's office for a reaction to the story but has not yet received a response.
UPDATE: Sen. Franken's office just provided us with the following statement:"Along with Senator Carl Levin, I participated in a CODEL and made a visit to Kabul in January 2010, during which time Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, Commander, NATO Training Mission - Afghanistan, and several others briefed me on the progress being made in the country. While the briefings provided me with a helpful update on what was happening on the ground, I knew that I would have to crosscheck their assessment by talking to other military officials, diplomatic officials, outside experts and troops in the field, and I always raise skeptical questions when discussing this topic. "Although this was my first trip to Afghanistan as a senator, it was my fifth trip to the country since the war started, and I've learned that to get a clear sense of what's happening on the ground you have to talk to everyone from privates to generals. My perspective on the effort in Afghanistan is the product of countless face-to-face meetings with soldiers and marines, Pentagon officials, State Department officials, outside experts and my constituents in Minnesota, as well as extensive review of reports and classified material. I'll continue to solicit the best advice from the most knowledgeable people as the situation in Afghanistan evolves."
Posted at 10:39 AM on February 24, 2011
by Tim Nelson
Filed under: Mark Dayton
Mark Dayton will be the keynote speaker at the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce's next Public Affairs Series luncheon on March 3rd.
The Thursday appearance is scheduled for 11:30 AM, at the Science Museum of Minnesota.
The event is sold out, but with former Pawlenty administration DEED commissioner Matt Kramer at the SPACC's helm, there's a good chance there'll be a newsworthy exchange sometime during the event, and we'll report the highlights.
GOP Rep. John Kline told reporters that he's backing Tim Pawlenty's bid for president in 2012. Kline met with Minnesota reporters today to discuss the situation in Wisconsin, the federal budget showdown and the situation in the Middle East.
On Wisconsin, Kline says praised Wisconsin Governor Walker for trying to get a handle of the state's pension and benefits for state employees. When challenged that unions have already met Walker's demands, Kline said he didn't "want to get into Wisconsin's negotiations" but said politicians need to handle the hard reckoning of budget problems.
Kline will be on the front lines of that hard reckoning next week. The U.S. House has suggested that there will be a "shutdown showdown" over the federal budget. President Obama and Congress have to reach an agreement by March 4th. Kline says he doesn't want to see a government shutdown but added that House Republicans won't support a continuing resolution that doesn't cut government spending. He wouldn't say what an acceptable level of cuts would be.
"I'm very confident that the Republicans in the House are not going to vote for a continuing resolution that has no cuts in it," Kline said.
Kline, who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, says he's watching the unrest in the Middle East closely. He said Libyan President Moammar Gadhafi's violent actions towards protesters in that country borders on an atrocity.
"We have seen now how really bad this guy is when he is killing his own people to stay in power," Kline said.
Kline said he's watching the situation in Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Algeria and Jordan closely. He said it's possible that the issue could go against U.S. interests in the region.
"I'm not entirely sure that we're going to like the type of democracy that could come out of this," Kline said.
Kline said he is hoping unrest in Iran occurs because he argued that the situation can't get much worse there.
Finally, Kline said he was running for reelection. He was then asked who he was supporting for president 2012.
"Tim Pawlenty," he said at the end of the news conference.
Kline's decision to back Pawlenty means he's not backing GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann, who is also pondering a run for president.
Roll Call reports that Pawlenty is headed to Washington D.C. on Monday to try to build a network of supporters in Congress. Kline and GOP Rep. Erik Paulsen are listed on the invitation.
Here's Kline's briefing: Listen
Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty's Freedom First PAC website now features this short video in support of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.
Pawlenty is urging people to sign a petition in support of Walker who, along with other Wisconsin Republicans is battling Democrats over a plan to restrict public employee collective bargaining rights.
On his PAC website Pawlenty credits Walker with making "tough choices" and writes, "The gig is up for public employee groups who demand better benefits than the taxpayers who are paying the bill. I'm confident Gov. Walker's reforms will succeed in Wisconsin. Stand strong, Scott -- average taxpayers everywhere are rooting for you."
Posted at 11:56 AM on February 24, 2011
by Tim Nelson
Filed under: MN Legislature
There are times when the responsibilities of leadership weigh more heavily than others. Other times, they take the form of neon-green foam walleye. These are courtesy of Minnesota resort owners visiting the Capitol for the day. We can't speak to their influence on Majority leader Matt Dean and Speaker Kurt Zellers, but the leaders were certainly good sports.
Republicans in Minnesota Senate are getting their own weekly radio show.
The GOP caucus announced today that Sen. Mike Parry, R-Waseca, will host the program Inside the Senate. It will air Friday mornings at 10:00 a.m. on KOWZ-AM in Owatonna.
"I look forward to this opportunity to communicate with the public through a weekly radio program, Parry said in a news release. "With massive budget and jobs deficits, it's more important now than ever that we create a constructive dialogue with people as we seek the best solutions to move Minnesota forward. Inside the Senate gives people with busy lives and busy schedules a consistent, focused update on the news of the Legislature."
The inaugural show tomorrow will include Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, R-Buffalo, and Assistant Majority Leader David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, as guests.
Gov. Mark Dayton is considering proposals from a handful of stations that want to host his weekly radio show. No contract has been announced. Dayton plans to carry on a radio-show tradition started by Gov. Jesse Ventura and continued by Gov. Tim Pawlenty.
Senate Republicans are sending a letter to Governor Dayton today to make one thing perfectly clear: they oppose taxes. Senate GOP leadership has been clear that they don't need new revenue to balance the state's budget. But several freshman members of the caucus and the Senate Tax Chair have indicated in recent days that new revenue is needed. Tax Chair Julianne Ortman told MPR News on Wednesday that she would look at ending some deductions in the state's tax code and use some of that money to balance the state's budget.
Several other members told MPR News that they would also look at tax expenditures or gambling to balance the budget.
While the letter makes it clear that the GOP caucus opposes tax increases, it says nothing about tax expenditures. Ortman specifically said on Wednesday that she viewed tax expenditures as government spending and not tax hikes. She declined comment when asked if she was reversing her position on tax expenditures
"I don't have anything to say outside the scope of that letter," Ortman said. "That is my position."
In a conference call with reporters, Gov. Dayton said he wanted to see a more thorough response from Republicans.
"I would say again, the time for this rhetorical game playing is over," Dayton said. "I submitted my budget, now its their responsibility to develop their budget. Where is their budget? Let them devise their budget and you know, take all of the rhetoric in this letter and put it in a budget that they have passed and then we'll have something to discuss."
The state was facing a projected 6.2 billion dollar budget deficit in the last official forecast last fall. A new forecast is due next week. The state has until May 23rd to come up with a balanced budget.
Here's the letter: