Posted at 6:38 AM on May 20, 2011
by Tom Scheck
Filed under: Daily Digest
With three days to go until the constitutional deadline for the Legislature to finish its work, Dayton and GOP legislative leaders remain hopeful a budget deal can be reached. The Legislature is sending the $33.9 billion budget to Dayton for an all but certain veto. Dayton hasn't received the budget bills yet so he has until Tuesday to act on the bills.
Tidbit: Dayton meets with GOP legislative leaders this morning at 8am. He will also meet with the chairs of the K12 and State Government committees.
Advocates for the disabled are upset with proposed budget cuts in that area.
Mayors of Minneapolis, St. Paul and Duluth warn of drastic cuts to LGA.
Environmental groups say Republicans used money from the Legacy Amendment to backfill the Environment budget bill. Even with that money, there are deep reductions to that area.
Public employee unions are preparing their members for a shutdown.
Constitutional Amendment to ban Same Sex Marriage
House GOP leaders are mum on when they intend to hold the vote on a Constitutional Amendment to ban same sex marriage. MPR reports that one reason is because there internal debate in the caucus as to whether the vote should be held before they finish their work on the state budget.
Tidbit: There are more and more GOP members who are growing uneasy about the issue but will vote for it in the end.
Tidbit2: Expect Democrats to trash GOP legislative leaders on Tuesday for having misplaced priorities if the same sex marriage amendment is on the ballot and a budget isn't close to being signed into law.
The Vikings Stadium language is in the hands of lawmakers.
Gov. Dayton vetoed the redistricting bill because he said the GOP map was drawn with the purpose of protecting Republicans.
The Minnesota House approved new limits on abortion. The Senate has to take up the measures before it reaches Dayton's desk.
Under the Dome
Gov. Dayton signed a bill into law that requires CPR training for teachers and staff at day care centers.
Tidbit: Next year's session will start on January 24th.
President Obama says the status quo in the Middle East is unsustainable. He also urged Israel to reach a peace deal with Palestinians. Israel's president criticized the speech.
The Red Bulls are going overseas again. MPR takes a look at why the National Guard unit that served the longest tour of any combat unit in Iraq is headed back there.
Health insurers lose their push to ease the health law's price review.
DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar says she intends to visit the mother of the detained U.S. hiker held in Iran.
GOP Rep. John Kline is concerned about the results released in the Massey mine disaster report.
AP says the No Child Left Behind fix is lagging in Congress. Kline is mentioned.
DFL Rep. Keith Ellison wants President Obama to offer Elizabeth Warren a recess appointment.
GOP Rep. Chip Cravaack defended his budget vote during a town hall in Cambridge.
Race for President
A SuperPAC aligned with Democrats started running an ad in South Carolina criticizing Mitt Romney.
USA Today says GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann rivals President Obama when it comes to small donor contributions.
Time writes a profile of Pawlenty. The biggest news for Pawlenty watchers is that Charlie Weaver says Bachmann will be "a pain in the ass in Iowa" for Pawlenty.
The Hill writes that Pawlenty is trying to balance the line of not embracing GOP proposals out of Congress but not completely trashing their either.
Sixth District Minnesota Congresswoman and possible 2012 GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann is appealing to supporters with an email message claiming "left-wing radicals, mainstream media, and yes -- even some of my so-called friends on the right -- have flipped the switch on their attack machine in an effort to silence my voice and derail our conservative movement."
Bachmann may be referencing a recent post on the conservative blog, "The Daily Caller," which calls out Bachmann for supporting earmarks and profiting from farm subsidies.
In her fundraising email, Bachmann asks for a special contribution, "if you believe in the freedoms guaranteed in our Constitution." And she promises she will not be deterred from her goal of bringing "common sense and fiscal sanity to our federal government."
Bachmann said this week she might announce a decision about a White House bid within the next couple of weeks. Next week Bachmann travels to Iowa. She'll be in New Hampshire for Memorial Day.
From MPR's Elizabeth Dunbar and Tom Scheck...
The House opened its floor session today with a prayer by a pastor who has frequently spoken out against gays. The House could take up a vote today on sending a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage before voters in 2012.
Bradlee Dean of Old Path Church of Minneapolis and founder of You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International ministry was the guest chaplain for the opening prayer. During his prayer, he questioned President Barack Obama's commitment to Jesus.
"I know this is a non-denominational prayer in this chamber, it's not about the Baptists, it's not about the Catholics alone, or the Lutherans or the Wesleyans or the Presbyterians or Evangelicals but rather the head of the denomination, and his name is Jesus -- as every president up until 2008 has acknowledged, and we pray it in Jesus' name," Dean said.
Note: You can watch video of the prayer and reaction on the House Archives page.
DFL House members were quick to express outrage over Dean's comments, and House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, restarted the floor session with another prayer by the regular House chaplain.
In a speech on the House floor following the second prayer, Rep. Terry Morrow, DFL-St. Peter, expressed anger over Dean's appearance.
"I've always thought of the House prayer as an opportunity for us to contemplate together, to come together before the heat and battle of what can sometimes be partisan politics. It was an expectation, it was a hope that I felt was fulfilled every day I came to this chamber until today. Within the last hour this hope has been crushed by a single person's words," Morrow said.
Morrow thanked Zellers for restarting, saying it was "an acknowledgement that there is a legitimate cause for deep concern."
Zellers and Rep. Matt Dean, R-Delwood, said after the House recessed that they were not involved in scheduling Bradlee Dean to open the floor session.
UPDATE: House Speaker Kurt Zellers just issued this:
STATEMENT FROM SPEAKER ZELLERS DENOUNCING MORNING PRAYER
I respectfully apologize to all members in the Minnesota House of Representatives and all citizens of this state for today's morning prayer. As Speaker of the House, I take responsibility for this mistake. I am offended at the presence of Bradlee Dean on the floor of the Minnesota House of Representatives. I denounce him, his actions and his words. He does not represent my values or the values of this state.
Meanwhile, the two openly gay members of the Legislature DFLers Rep. Karen Clark and Sen. Scott Dibble, both of Minneapolis, issued this:
"In my 30 years in the House, I have never seen such a hateful person be allowed to deliver the opening prayer," Rep. Clark said. "Bradlee Dean has a documented record of hate speech, and has suggested that extremists who call for the execution of American gays are morally justified. The decision by GOP leadership to allow his intolerance, fear and outright bigotry into the 'people's house' is reprehensible. Minnesotans are a peaceful, loving and caring people. It's this spirit of togetherness and shared hope that the House of Representatives should strive to embody. The Republican leadership should be ashamed of themselves. It reveals the underlying hateful nature of the anti-gay constitutional amendment movement."
"In this time of divisiveness, it's disgraceful and appalling to see the Speaker of the House of Representatives ‑‑ the body that is supposed to represent all Minnesotans ‑‑ invite hatred into the opening prayer," Sen. Dibble, a former House member said. "Instead of providing a message of inclusion and hope, the House began this day with hate and discrimination. Mr. Dean has a long and well-known record of intolerance, something that should have no place in the legislature, let alone in a prayerful blessing. This morning's action is a sad commentary on House Republican leadership's apparent ambivalence for supporting the equal rights and beliefs of all Minnesotans."
Two people with knowledge of the decision say Rep. Ernie Leidiger, R- Mayer, invited Bradlee Dean to give the House prayer.
Rep. Ernie Leidiger, R-Mayer, confirmed that he invited Dean to give the House prayer. He said it was "an honest mistake" that Dean was invited on the same day that the constitutional amendment to ban same marriage could have been debated.
Leidiger said he invited Dean after seeing him deliver a speech on constitutional issues at a school. He said a colleague of Dean followed up on the request. Leidiger says he was scheduled to speak a few weeks ago but it was rescheduled for today. He said he didn't know about Dean's views until a colleague told him about Dean's background after Dean gave the prayer.
Leidiger says he doesn't hold Dean's views.
"I don't go there at all," Leidiger said. "I believe in life. I believe in everyone having opportunity and that's not where any of the members agree with his stance. That radical stance that I understand is about as radical as it can get."
Leidiger says he's apologized to several Democrats including DFL Rep. Karen Clark of Minneapolis. Clark is the only openly gay member of the
Leidiger says he still supports the constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. He said he doesn't believe the amendment has "nothing to do with gays. It's all about a statement on what marriage is."
Here's my short interview with him: Listen(8 Comments)
Protesters are back outside the Minnesota House chamber in full volume today, in a chanting battle over the proposed constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage.
House leaders haven't said when it might come up for a vote, and the House Rules Committee just recessed without putting it on today's calendar. Minority Leader Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, says the committee may consider the matter later.
But one of the few House Republicans who openly opposes the idea thought it might be today.The matter is expected to split mostly along party lines, as it did when it passed earlier in the Senate.
"I trust my gut," said Rep. John Kriesel, of Cottage Grove, who is one of two GOP members who have opposed the measure already. Tim Kelly of Red Wing is the other.
"This could go down today, and that's what I'm hoping for," Kriesel said. "There's a lot of people that think the timing is wrong. There's a lot of people that don't want to deal with it. But I don't think the timing is ever right, because I think it's the wrong thing to do."
Kriesel spoke, though, while the controversy over the prayer offered by Bradlee Dean was still percolating through the House, and before Kurt Zellers denounced the prayer in a statement and apologized on the House floor.
But that still leaves the same-sex marriage amendment up in the air.
Second term Rep. Tim Sanders, R- Blaine, said he supports putting same sex marriage on the state ballot, but has other priorities.
"I think the focus really should be on the budget. That's what the folks sent us all here to focus on," Sanders said.
But he too hinted that the same sex marriage amendment may play into budget negotiations.
"In our opinion, we have passed a balanced budget. It's up to the governor what he wants to do and his timeline," Sanders said after the House adjourned Thursday night. "So we're in a wait and see mode right now, and a negotiation mode with the governor. So until he give us some direction on some actual tangible steps we can take to meet in the middle, I think everything's fair game."
Freshman Rep. Andrea Kieffer, R-Woodbury, was elusive about the subject. Asked this morning if she would support putting the amendment on the ballot, she wouldn't commit either way. "I have my concerns," she said. She said she wanted to hear floor debate on the matter.
House members are privately debating whether the lack of floor action so far is a reflection of uncertainty whether the GOP caucus can muster the bloc of votes to approve.
Rep. Karen Clark, DFL- Minneapolis, the only openly lesbian member of the House, said she thinks the vote in the House will be more difficult than that in the Senate.
"There are members who feel torn, just agonizingly torn on the Republican side," Clark said. "They don't want to vote for this. They personally believe that its wrong. You know, people are crying about this. It's a very emotional issue. People who fell that their conscience tells them that they should not support a constitutional amendment, but their party is telling them they must."(4 Comments)
Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R- Maple Grove, may have heard from some angry professors this week.
During a discussion about cuts to the state's higher education budget, Zellers said that college professors have seen their pay rise while other workers are getting paid less.
"It's... troubling when families have had a 30-or-40 percent pay cut and you see a college professor get a 20-or-30 percent increase in pay," he told Midday host Gary Eichten.
That's not correct. Most public school professors have seen pay cuts and salary freezes, not pay increases.
In 2009, faculty working for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system (MnSCU) agreed to a two-year pay freeze.
There were a few exceptions to this rule. Teachers at two-year schools could get a salary bump if they completed additional graduate work. Professors at MnSCU's universities received a 4.8 percent salary increase if they met career milestones. And university faculty promoted during the freeze earned more pay.
The University of Minnesota also tightened pay. During the most recent fiscal year, faculty salaries were cut by 1.15 percent. And in 2010, faculty salaries were frozen.
Daniel Wolter, spokesman for the U of M, says about 100 of the university's 4,100 faculty members at the Twin Cities campus were offered retention pay, which is given to teachers in particularly competitive fields who may be looking to leave the school. He said amounts of that pay vary based on the job and the type of research the professor is doing.
In a separate interview, Zellers said he misunderstood the headline of a 2009 MPR News story that focused on the $300,000 in bonuses paid to top MnSCU administrators, not faculty.
In some instances, college faculty saw pay increases in the last couple of years. But the majority of Minnesota's public school professors have been working under pay freezes and pay cuts.
Zellers' claim is false.
Minnesota Public Radio News, Midday, May 16, 2011
The University of Minnesota, Equity During Budget Cuts, March 31, 2011
Minnesota Public Radio News, MnSCU bonuses to top staffers nears $300K, by Tim Post, Sept. 17, 2009
Minnesota State University - Mankato, State university faculty, MnSCU system reach tentative salary accord, Feb. 23, 2009
Interview, Daniel Wolter, News Service Director, University of Minnesota, May 19, 2011
Interview, Melinda Voss, spokeswoman, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, May 19, 2011
Interview, Russ Stanton, MnSCU Interfaculty Organization, May 20, 2011
The Humphrey School(2 Comments)
Opponents of the measure are hoping the controversy over Bradlee Dean's appearance before the House of Representatives this morning could be pushing off the proposed constitutional amendment on same-sex marriage down the House agenda.
"I think we won a small victory," said Rep. John Kriesel, of Cottage Grove, just before the House adjourned about 2:30 and went into caucus, without taking up the measure as he'd expected. The House is scheduled to return at 7:45 tonight.
Rep. Steve Gottwald, of St. Cloud, says the amendment proposal he sponsored is teed up and can "be brought up at any time."
But in virtually the next sentence, he called the Dean controversy "very unfortunate" and badly timed.
"The marriage amendment has always been about having a discussion among the people of Minnesota decently, respectfully, about the definition of marriage between one man and one woman," Gottwalt said. "And any other agenda is inappropriate. Especially an agenda about hate. So what happened this morning was both unfortunate and disgusting to some extent. That person should not have been here."
He said he hoped Dean's presence wouldn't be linked to the same sex marriage amendment.
"I would hope that no one would try to link the two together, because we have been absolutely clear about the desire for decency and respect in the conversation about the definition of marriage. So for someone to link hate to this would be very unfortunate."
Gottwalt, though, couldn't say when or if he thought the amendment would come up for a vote.
But opponents believe it could get more difficult in coming days.
There are three full days left, and tomorrow will feature the People's Rally for a Fair Minnesota, which is expected to bring thousands of people to the Capitol -- and possibly tempting the biggest demonstration yet against the marriage amendment.
Legislators generally don't meet on Sundays, and the last Monday is often consumed by stop-and-start budget negotiations, rather than the marathon floor debate that the marriage amendment is likely to spark.
The House could put off action on the amendment and try again next year. Supporters would still have time to vote then to put the question on the 2012 ballot.(1 Comments)
An ethics complaint was filed Friday against Sen. Gretchen Hoffman, R-Vergas, over something she wrote about a DFL colleague on Twitter.
Hoffman wrote this about Sen. Barb Goodwin, DFL-Columbia Heights earlier this week:
"Sen Goodwin just called people with mental illness- idiots and imbeciles- while debating HHS bill #offensive #mndfl #mnsrc #mnleg"
But it's not what Goodwin said. Goodwin was talking about the history of developmental disabilities and mental illness in Minnesota during a debate over the Health and Human Services budget bill.
Sen. Ann Rest, DFL-New Hope, officially filed the ethics complaint today. Here's the complaint:
During the floor debate this week, Goodwin stood up to demand an apology from Hoffman.
Hoffman later released a statement through a spokeswoman, and Republicans released video of the comments they say Hoffman was concerned about.
Goodwin's full comments are here.
And here's the previous Capitol View post from Tom Scheck.
UPDATE: After the ethics complaint was filed, Hoffman issued this statement this afternoon:
On Wednesday, May 18, Senator Barb Goodwin referred to people with mental illnesses as idiots and imbeciles in the Minnesota State Senate floor. As a registered nurse who has worked with patients with mental illnesses for many years, I was offended by her remarks. I shared Senator Goodwin's remarks with my Twitter followers.
Until the Subcommittee on Ethical Conduct completes their work, I have no further comment.
Posted at 5:10 PM on May 20, 2011
by Tim Nelson
Filed under: Vikings stadium
Two lawmakers in the House and Senate are proposing gambling to fill the gap in the stadium financing that's been nagging the Vikings and their would-be hosts in Ramsey County.
But stadium bill sponsor Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, reacted coolly to the measure today: "I haven't been involved in that at all. And I don't know whether that has any possible life or not. Haven't really heard anything, haven't been involved, so I don't know."
On the Senate side, stadium bill sponsor Sen. Julie Rosen, R - Fairmont, actually signed on to the measure authored by DFLers Dan Sparks, of Austin, and James Metzen of South St. Paul.
"I don't know if this is the way out," Rosen said. "But it's something on the table. And I don't think it's all racino. It's other gambling, too."
The Vikings were neutral on the subject. "It's up to the state Legislature and governor to determine the source of the State's contribution to the stadium," said team vice president Lester Bagley, "If they want to use gaming, we will work with them on it."
Here seems to be what we in the business call the "nutgraf":
It is certainly not reasonable to expect people who understand the dangers of an unrestrained government to accept the status quo notion of "compromise"
We're not quite sure what that would mean to Capitol View or our coverage on MPR, but you're welcome to determine for yourself if we live up to the chairman's expectations. Here's his letter in its entirety:
A Personal Note to the Capitol Press Corps:
I am forgoing the usual press release format and writing a personal letter to the media because I am deeply and personally concerned about portrayal of "compromise" when reporting budget negotiations. I don't consider your coverage politically biased, and this letter is not a rant about the "liberal" media. I wanted to address you directly, sans political rhetoric. The media bias I see, which is a common perception, is the belief that compromise is ALWAYS a good thing, that the best solution is ALWAYS somewhere in the middle and that compromise is ALWAYS a win for the people of Minnesota. That is far from ALWAYS the case.
The favorable bias toward compromise is pretty well reflected in media coverage. It's a non-insightful "dog bites man" story: Gov. Dayton demands that Republicans act "reasonably" and "compromise" on a "balanced approach" to the budget. The implication is that if Republicans were indeed "reasonable," they would accept the idea of a balanced solution of spending cuts and tax increases. They would compromise and increase the budget and increase revenue, as compromise is in and of itself a good thing irrespective of its consequences.
I think the media is missing out on a more thoughtful and more interesting perspective of more service to readers and viewers - Does compromise necessarily yield a better solution?
Give and take on details of policy is not compromise; it's simply good governance to consider all ideas when formulating policy in search of an integrated solution that solves the problem at hand. Republicans have made it clear they are willing to negotiate on points of policy. Compromise requires sacrificing principle. Compromise is taking a position you have confidence in and "compromising" it to a position neither side has faith in.
Republicans have been down that road before.
When Democrats, wedded to a governing model making Minnesota a high service/high tax state, controlled the Legislature, they would biennially propose new spending and new taxes as the starting point of the budget process. The assumptive question of budget discussions was "How big can we grow state government?" Republicans fought tooth and nail against DFL spending and tax increases, but at the end of the day they were "reasonable" and "compromised" at less spending and lower revenue expectations than the Democrats wanted. Nonetheless Minnesota moved to the left and the next budget discussion started at a higher number. The only Republican victory was "it could have been so much worse."
My point is simply this: Starting budget discussions with the assumptive question "How big can we grow government?" is always going to yield a compromise to the left, a compromise toward bigger, more expensive, more resource consumptive government. Even if you are biased toward that approach, it is certainly not reasonable to expect people who understand the dangers of an unrestrained government to accept the status quo notion of "compromise" -- giving the DFL a little less of what it wants -- as a good thing in an of itself.
Without being overly rhetorical, a compromise to the left is a compromise of good and evil; it is foisting upon Minnesotans a high tax/high service model that Republicans believe (and budget deficits have vindicated) just can't be sustained, and the people hurt the most are the people government is supposed to protect, benefit and secure.
Preparing the state budget is not simply an accounting exercise; it is a philosophical definition of the proper role and function of government. The people of Minnesota sent Republicans to St. Paul to give new birth to the uniquely American ethic of "Live Free; Live Better." Republicans in the Legislature are not about to compromise that ethic for the solace that things "could have been so much worse." Republicans will not separate compromise from its consequences. Republicans will not compromise away the power of the free market to create the jobs and prosperity that make a compassionate society possible. And for that, Republicans need not apologize.
In closing, I am not asking the media to compromise its journalistic integrity. I would just ask that the press thoughtfully consider the nature of compromise in reporting ongoing budget negotiations. There are "man bites dog" stories in that perspective, and I trust you will find them.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Tony Sutton, Chair
Republican Party of Minnesota
Republican House Speaker Kurt Zellers says he thinks Republicans have the votes to pass a constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriage. Zellers wouldn't say on TPT's Almanac program if the measure will be brought up this session. Several Republicans have suggested it's unwise to consider the amendment since the Legislature has not yet reached a budget deal with Governor Dayton. Zellers says the amendment would pass if brought up for a vote.
"We've had some motions on the floor to rerefer it back to committee and they've been defeated." Zellers said. "All along, we've been talking about getting our budget done first. Our budget is now, literally, some of the carts are going down the hall to the governor's office right now so there are the votes. We're not focusing on that we're focusing on the budget."
The House action would be the final step before the amendment is placed on the 2012 ballot. If a majority of those voting in the 2012 election vote in favor of the amendment, the constitution would define marriage as between one man and one woman. Critics of the plan say the measure is divisive and say state law already bans same sex marriage.(3 Comments)