Posted at 6:12 AM on June 13, 2011
by Tom Scheck
Filed under: Daily Digest
There are no meetings scheduled between Gov. Dayton and GOP legislative leaders today.
The only thing that seems to be moving in recent weeks is the finger pointing by both sides.
State workers started getting layoff notices on Friday.
Some state workers are starting to worry about the potential work stoppage.
Tidbit: MMB's John Pollard says the cost of sending out the layoff notices was $20,000.
A shutdown would create great uncertainty when it comes to state services.
MnSCU's tuition is expected to rise five percent.
Nonprofits brace for a shutdown.
As state delays aid, more Minnesota Minnesota school districts may be forced to borrow cash.
Under the Dome
An ethics hearing on GOP Sen. Gretchen Hoffman will be held today.
Constitutional Amendment to Ban Same-Sex Marriage
Dayton will attend a fundraiser tonight for the group working to defeat the proposed amendment.
The sparring over the marriage vote has started.
The Archbishop writes a column arguing in favor of the constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.
President Obama is seeking to mend fences with Wall St.
Senior Democratic lawmakers are calling for Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-NY, to resign.
The first photos of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-AZ, have been posted on her Facebook page. Giffords was shot five months ago.
DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar and GOP Rep. Erik Paulsen will form a health care caucus.
DFL Rep. Tim Walz touts an energy plan.
Race for President
A GOP debate will be held in New Hampshire tonight and a lot of eyes will be on Mitt Romney.
Mitt Romney, the perceived GOP front-runner, is working to win New Hampshire much like 2008.
Mitt Romney's rivals hope to cripple him in a state that shows him leading in the polls.
Pawlenty also appeared on Fox News Sunday.
An Indiana businessman, who led a White House economic panel during George W. Bush's time in office, is backing Pawlenty.
Pawlenty characterized his economic plan as a "stretch" on the show.
Washington Post cartoonist Tom Toles mocks Pawlenty's economic plan.
The PoliGraph says Pawlenty's proclaimed budget savings is complicated by the level of tax cuts that he puts forward.
A key question leading into the debate is whether GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty tussel. There are signs it could happen.
CNN says Bachmann has all of the pieces in place to make a presidential run.
The Star Tribune says Bachmann has been an outsider from the start.
Bachmann added another Huckabee staffer.
The Minnesota Attorney General's office today filed petitions in Ramsey County Court asking for legal authority to continue funding core government services if state government shuts down.
Citing state services including prisons, sex offender treatment and veterans homes, Attorney General Lori Swanson argues a government shutdown would deprive Minnesota citizens of rights guaranteed under the state and federal constitutions. She says the court should allow the executive branch to temporarily continue funding essential services even though the Legislature and governor have not agreed on a budget for the upcoming two years.
Swanson argues that prisons, probation, state health department disease monitoring, and health care for more than 600,000 people are all examples of essential services that should be allowed to continue.
She advises the court to select what's known as a special master to determine specifically what should be funded and even suggests former state Supreme Court Justice James Gilbert for that job. Government will shut down if Governor Mark Dayton and the legislature fail to reach a budget deal by July 1st.
Here's the petition...
Dayton issued this statement on Swanson's petition:
"The Governor's office will file its own petition to the Court, along with the critical services as designated by our contingency planning, this week."
The executive director of the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees is objecting to a Republican lawmaker comparing unions to Adolf Hitler and Fidel Castro.
Jim Monroe is referring to e-mails between Rep. Tom Hackbarth, R-Cedar, and MAPE member Robin Seifert, who lives in Hackbarth's district.
Seifert was urging Hackbarth to support DFL Gov. Mark Dayton's budget plan that would raise income taxes on Minnesota's top earners. Here's the e-mail that she sent him:
Dear Representative Hackbarth,
You have a choice. As a legislators, you could chose to ask the most fortunate among us to pay their fair share or you could inflict severe pain on the middle-class and vulnerable Minnesotans.
I oppose the all-cuts budget which will increase property taxes on homeowners, renters and small businesses by more than one billion dollars.
The all-cuts plan will eliminate support for battered women and crime victims and slash funding for public universities by $411 million.
We have a choice. We can either protect the richest Minnesotans and large corporations or we can protect the vital services that average Minnesotans depend on.
Are you willing to take away health care from 140,000 Minnesotans just to protect the 40,000 richest people in Minnesota?
I also support the Viking stadium they are part of Minnesota and need to stay here. We have waited to long to get a stadium they time is now!!
Please tax the richest 2% of Minnesotans. Ask them to pay their fair share.
Ms. Robin Seifert
Seifert says Hackbarth responded with this e-mail:
I can't believe what I'm hearing from folks? All, similar letters to yours.
Are you a Union member? If so, are they the communist giving you this propaganda?
Do you know the who, what, when, where, why, and how, of Fidel Castro?
Hitler rose to power using and blaming the jews for the destruction of the German economy. Castro built his army of murderers by blaming the rich bankers and capitalist for destroying Cuba and taking advantage of the Cuban people. Hummmm?
Robin Seifert told MPR News that she got the e-mail from Hackbarth but declined further comment. Hackbarth has not replied to an e-mail message from MPR News. Hackbarth's legislative assistant and House Republican Caucus Spokeswoman Jodi Boyne both said Hackbarth was out of town and that they were trying to reach him.
Hackbarth's response prompted Monroe, with MAPE, to send a letter to Hackbarth (and put out a press release) asking why the representative was comparing union members to Hitler and Castro.
Do you really equate advocating for the middle class and Minnesota's vulnerable citizens as communist propaganda? Do you really believe that when our members ask you to protect 140,000 Minnesotans from losing their MnCare benefits rather than having the richest two percent of Minnesotans paying their fair share of taxes it compares to the rise of Hitler and targeting the Jews? When did supporting public services for battered women, crime victims and students in public universities become a fascist notion?
When did humanity and caring for our neighbors and asking for millionaires to pay their fair share become supporting Fidel Castro and his murderous armies?
This isn't the first time Hackbarth has been under scrutiny.
He lost his committee chair in December after he was spotted carrying a loaded handgun in a Planned Parenthood parking lot in St. Paul. Hackbarth said he was checking up on a woman he was dating. Hackbarth had a permit to carry a handgun. No charges were filed(6 Comments)
Rep. Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley, is taking issue with an effort to ask a judge to step in and keep some government services running if state government shuts down on July 1.
Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson is asking a district court judge to rule that some government services should continue if state government shuts down on July 1. Swanson filed a petition today in Ramsey County Court asking a judge to grant authority to continue funding "essential services" like prisons, public safety and health care for the poor, elderly and disabled.
Winkler says he believes the petition is more sweeping than previous requests. He says the petition seeks too much power for cities, counties, state agencies and other units of government.
"This petition says each government unit can define for itself what a core function is," Winkler said. "And they present a bill to the state and the state has to pay it. So this is putting a small check on how money would be spent."
Winkler also questions whether it's constitutional for a judge to fund government agencies. He says that's the job of the Legislature and the governor.
"The Minnesota Constitution requires the Legislature and the governor to compromise and pass a balanced budget," Winkler said. "The idea that powers should be separated into three branches, and that each branch should serve as a check on the other branches, is fundamental to our system of government."
The courts did step in and appropriate money during the partial government shutdown in 2005. A lawsuit was filed to challenge the constitutionality of the process but the Minnesota Court of Appeals rejected the challenge on constitutional grounds.
The court ruled that the lawsuit should have been filed earlier since then Gov. Pawlenty and the Legislature resolved their budget impasse before the court could act on it.
Reporters, producers, sound and video techs along with political pundits flocked to Manchester, New Hampshire, for tonight's GOP presidential debate in what looked to be considerably larger numbers than were in Greenville, South Carolina for the first debate a little more than a month ago.
The reason for the heightened interest is simple. This time all of the major candidates will be on stage. In early May the debate featured former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, along with Texas Rep. Ron Paul and some lesser-known Republicans. Noticeably absent from the South Carolina forum were former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Both are among the seven GOP White House hopefuls in Manchester tonight.
So too is U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota's 6th District, who has not formally declared herself a candidate but is widely believe to be in the running. Bachmann says she will make a formal announcement about her plans from her birthplace of Waterloo, Iowa, sometime this month.
Several Republicans who turned out for a Pawlenty campaign event in Derry, New Hampshire Sunday afternoon said they didn't expect tonight's debate to be much of a debate, and that it would be fine with them if the seven candidates focused their criticism on President Barack Obama instead of each other this early in the campaign.
It remains to be seen what path the candidates will take, and if one goes after a fellow Republican, whether the others will follow the lead. Some think Romney might become the target of most of the criticism, since most polls show Romney well ahead of the others.
The debate runs from 7 p.m. - 9p.m., and is being broadcast live on CNN.(1 Comments)
WASHINGTON - Tomorrow, the Senate will debate an amendment put forward by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) that would effectively end the current ethanol subsidy system which currently doles out nearly $6 billion a year to ethanol producers.
Corn state senators aren't happy about this vote. DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Sen. John Thune (R-SD) have introduced a bill that they hope will bleed votes away from Coburn's amendment.
Their bill would also end the 45 cent per gallon tax credit for ethanol but would direct some of the funds that would have paid the subsidy towards upgrading gas station fuel pumps for ethanol and financing research on advanced cellulosic biofuels that don't use corn and have lower emissions.
The bill would also direct a billion dollars in savings towards deficit reduction.
"Our bipartisan legislation would provide businesses a clear glide-path to move forward and keep the biofuels industry competitive while reducing our debt by a billion dollars this year," said Klobuchar in a statement.
The politics behind the amendment are a bit convoluted.
While Coburn, who hails from an oil-producing state, has long detested ethanol subsidies, what's driving the debate behind this amendment is a dispute within the Republican party over what constitutes a tax increase.
The party's anti-tax wing, led by Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, says that any measure that closes a tax loophole and increases the government's revenues constitutes a tax hike. While Coburn does not support new taxes or an increase in tax rates, he wants to end many tax breaks and using the higher tax revenue to close the budget deficit.
So while it's ethanol that the senators will be debating tomorrow, the subtext of the debate is whether Republicans will be willing to end long-popular tax breaks that benefit favored industries and use the extra money that comes in on deficit reduction.
Of course, even if the Senate were to adopt Coburn's amendment, it would still have to go through the House of Representatives and onto the White House and several Congressional sources told me they're skeptical that the House GOP would sign off on Coburn's measure.(1 Comments)
The Senate Ethics Committee says it will dismiss a complaint against Sen. Gretchen Hoffman, R-Vargas, if she apologizes to Sen. Barb Goodwin, DFL-Columbia Heights, in writing for a comment she wrote on Twitter about Goodwin. The Ethics Committee also says Hoffman has to delete the tweet in question and link to the Ethics report on Twitter. Hoffman was facing an ethics complaint for mischaracterizing on her Twitter feed that Goodwin called people with a mental illness "idiots and imbeciles" during a Senate floor debate.
Godwin says she's satisfied with the action taken by the Ethics Committee.
"We want to make sure that we prevent these kinds of things in the future," Goodwin said. "I'm hoping for a decent apology and that it's a sincere apology."
The committee of two Democrats and two Republican met to discuss an ethics complaint against Hoffman. Hoffman tweeted the comment in May when the Senate was debating a Health and Human Services budget bill. Goodwin said Hoffman mischaracterized her comments because she was discussing the historical context of mental health treatment in Minnesota.
The Ethics Committee debated for several hours and quibbled over how Hoffman should apologize, where she should apologize and how long an apology should be posted on Twitter.
"We're asking for different apologies twice now," Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, said as he questioned why two apologies were necessary. Ingebrigtsen also said that the committee "was all caught up in this Twitter thing."
Democrats argued that Hoffman should apologize in writing and on Twitter because she made the comments on Twitter.
"I'm narrow in my focus not about what everyone else here is doing in terms of Twittering and Tweeting," Sen. Kathy Sheran, DFL-Mankato, said. "I'm simply focused on what I think is reasonable for us to ask Sen. Hoffman to do..."
The Ethics Committee held the hearing to act on an ethics complaint filed by Sen. Ann Rest, DFL-New Hope.
"Each of us, as one of the 67 Senators, does need to be held to account even during an emotional debate on important topics for what each of us says," Rest said.
Hoffman did not testify during the hearing. Her attorney, Fritz Knaak, said Hoffman was upset with Goodwin's comments and urged the committee to not start policing comments by members during difficult political debates.
"I certainly hope that the Ethics Committee doesn't want to get on its plate into the heads of members of the debate, subjective positions being taken in difficult political contexts and difficult political debates," Knaak said. "I would submit to you that that's not a place that you want to go."
The Ethics Committee will not dismiss the complaint until Hoffman apologizes on Twitter and issues a written apology to Goodwin.
WASHINGTON - It's official, Michele Bachmann is running for president.
The announcement came as seven Republican presidential candidates, including Bachmann, met in Manchester, New Hampshire tonight for a debate hosted by CNN.
"I filed today my paperwork to seek the office of the presidency of the United States, and I'll very soon be making my formal announcement. So I wanted you to be the first to know," said Bachmann, who shared the stage with former Gov. Tim Pawlenty.
The three-term Stillwater Congresswoman has been flirting with a run for months, with all signs pointing toward a White House bid.
My colleague Mark Zdechlik, who's at the debate, will have more of the details later tonight and tomorrow morning.
Bachmann's congressional campaign website has already been replaced with a skeletal presidential campaign site that asks supporters to donate money.