Greetings, and welcome to the Daily Digest.
While holding fundraisers in the state, Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus says Minnesota will be a battleground state in the 2012 presidential election.
Voters in parts of Minneapolis, Brooklyn Center and Brooklyn Park head to the polls for a special primary election.
The Duluth News Tribune reports that Excelsior Energy and its CEOs spent $1.8 million on lobbying and campaign contributions.
The fire in the BWCA has grown to 11,000 acres. MPR has the story as well as some remarkable pictures.
Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak's budget doesn't include a property tax increase. But the elimination of a tax credit may mean property taxes will still go up for some.
Former George W. Bush operative Karl Rove will speak at the Republican Midwest Leadership Conference, which will be held in Bloomington, Oct. 7-8.
Eighth district DFL candidate Rick Nolan got a key endorsement from former Eveleth Mayor and long-time Minnesota state Rep. Joe Begich.
Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told the Washington Post that he will pardon the two hikers arrested there two years ago.
What does the Federal Reserve do, exactly?
The Race for President
The candidates debated in Tampa last night.
Rep. Michele Bachmann's showing was much stronger than it was at the Reagan Library last week.
The candidates did not always make factual statements.
Two super PACs supporting Bachmann are part of a new class of political fundraising organizations that stand to have a major impact on the 2012 election.
Tim Pawlenty's endorsement of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney marks a departure from the sharp rhetoric he used on the campaign trail.
Time's Swampland blog takes a look at what Pawlenty's endorsement means for Romney's campaign.
Pawlenty was in Florida last night at the debate, and hinted that Perry's message on Social Security could hurt him in Florida.
U.S. News and World Report says Bachmann and Romney are losing the media battle to Perry.
Bloomberg contrasts Bachmann, Obama and Perry's fundraising styles.
Perry wrote an opinion piece in USA Today about his views on Social Security.
His candidacy is making some corners of the Republican party nervous.
If you're looking for a glow-in-the-dark kitten...
... you can find one at the Mayo Clinic.(2 Comments)
Posted at 10:50 AM on September 13, 2011
by Brett Neely
Filed under: U.S. House
WASHINGTON - While almost all Democrats agree with President Obama that creating jobs and reducing unemployment should be a priority, some of the most liberal members of the Democratic coalition, including DFL Rep. Keith Ellison, are concerned about the President's proposal to extend and expand the payroll tax cut which funds Social Security.
Until this year, employees and employers each paid a 6.2 percent tax on wages that went toward Social Security. Under a temporary tax deal struck last December, the employee side was cut for one year to 4.2 percent to boost the economy by slightly fattening workers' paychecks. President Obama's new plan would further cut the tax to 3.1 percent on both employers and employees through 2012, at a cost of $240 billion.
At a Capitol Hill press conference this morning, Ellison emphasized his support for much of the President's agenda but said he's concerned about the proposal.
"I am worried that it could set up a long term problem for Social Security," said Ellison, "As a strictly temporary measure, I could live with it for a little while."
While the President's plan calls for the tax rate to return to 6.1 percent in 2013, there's a long history of temporary tax measures becoming quasi-permanent because members of Congress are reluctant to be accused by opponents of raising taxes.
With Social Security's stream of dedicated funding temporarily reduced, a larger share of the program's benefits must come from direct government revenues.
Ellison and his allies in the Congressional Progressive Caucus want to expand on the President's jobs plan by having the government to hire two million workers to improve schools, parks and neighborhoods.
The payroll tax cut also lacks support from some Minnesota Republicans in Congress. Last month, Reps. John Kline and Erik Paulsen told MPR News they were skeptical about the effectiveness of the payroll tax cut.
WASHINGTON - The U.S. House of Representatives today avoided an impending shutdown of the nation's airports and road construction.
The measure, passed by a voice vote, extends funding for the Federal Aviation Administration, which had been scheduled to expire at the end of this week, through the end of January 2012 and extends highway and transit funding, which expired at the end of the month, through March 2012.
The FAA was briefly shuttered over the summer due to a disagreement between the House and Senate over several provisions in the bill, including funding the Essential Air Service program which subsidizes commercial flights to rural airports, including three in Minnesota. In a deal reached last last week, the current Essential Air Service program remains intact.
Had the highway bill authorization expired, more than $650 million worth of construction projects in Minnesota employing thousands of workers could have been endangered, according to data from MNDOT. The federal government typically provides about a third of all road construction fudning.
"It's not the end result we wanted," said GOP Rep. Chip Cravaack, who said he would have preferred a longer-term authorization of transportation spending. "But right now I guess this is the best we can do and we reached a good bipartisan agreement."
The lower chamber also overwhelmingly voted 365-54 today to pass the first in a series of education reform bill sponsored by Minnesota Rep. John Kline, who chairs the House Education and Workforce Committee. The bill encourages the construction and expansion of charter schools.
In a statement, Kline called the bill "an important first step" for education reformers that "signals our shared commitment to the reform process."
Kline's committee has approved a series of education bills that are part of the process of reauthorizing the No Child Left Behind Act, but those measures have lacked bipartisan support and have not been brought to the House floor for a vote.
The bill also includes an amendment sponsored by Minnesota Republican Erik Paulsen that allows successful charter schools to receive federal grants three years after the school is established, rather than the previous five year waiting period.(2 Comments)
Posted at 2:35 PM on September 13, 2011
by Tim Pugmire
Filed under: MN Legislature
Two DFL legislators say they want to restore the market value homestead credit that was eliminated during the July special session that ended the state government shutdown.
Gov. Mark Dayton signed a Republican-backed tax bill that ended the credit, which 95 percent of homeowners received, and replaced it with a new program called the homestead market value exclusion. During a State Capitol news conference today, Rep. Ann Lenczewski, DFL-Bloomington, said the new exclusion will lower the local property tax base and drive up the rate.
"The exclusion attempts to say we really don't want to own what's going on here, which is we're going to take a $538 million commitment to property owners through property tax relief, and we're going to shift it locally," Lenczewski said. "That's all we're doing. That's what the exclusion does."
Lenczewski and Rep. Paul Marquart, DFL-Dilworth, plan to introduce their bill to restore the credit during the 2012 session.
Republicans have argued that the changes provided a more stable funding mechanism for cities and counties.
GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann appears to be backing off suggestions that the HPV vaccine could cause mental retardation.
Here's what she told Fox News last night:
"There's a woman who came up crying to me tonight after the debate. She said her daughter was given that vaccine. She told me her daughter suffered mental retardation as a result. There are very dangerous consequences."
She used the same anecdote on the Today Show this morning.
But Bachmann backed away from the comment later when she appeared on Sean Hannity's radio show. Hannity asked Bachmann whether side effects from the HPV vaccine include mental retardation.
"I have no idea," Bachmann told Hannity. "I am not a doctor. I am not a scientist. I am not a physician. All I was doing was reporting what a woman told me last night at the debate."
The HPV vaccine became an issue after Bachmann and other GOP presidential candidates criticized Texas Gov. Rick Perry for issuing an executive order that would require girls to get the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. The mandatory vaccinations never materialized because the Texas Legislature rescinded the order. Perry's Chief of Staff later became a lobbyist for Merck, which manufactures the HPV vaccine. It's been an issue that has haunted Perry's campaign.
Conservative activists have been skeptical of efforts to require the vaccine because it takes away parental rights and could encourage young women to engage in sexual activities. Efforts to require the vaccine in Minnesota have been defeated.
The medical community has been pushing young men and women to get vaccinated against HPV, a sexually transmitted disease, because it would prevent genital warts and some cases of cervical cancer.
MPR reports today that some members of the medical community say Bachmann's recent comments are troubling and potentially dangerous.
"HPV vaccine is an extraordinarily safe and effective vaccine," said Dr. Bill Schaffner, who chairs the Department of Preventative Medicine at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and has an international reputation as an immunization expert. "It's a huge advance is women's health because it will prevent about 70 percent of the cases of cancer of the cervix."
Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh also criticized Bachmann.
"That's jumping the shark on this," Limbaugh said. "There's no evidence that the vaccine causes mental retardation."
The endorsed candidates running for two Minnesota Senate seats are now heading to the general election.
Jeff Hayden, a state representative, won the DFL primary over five opponents in Senate District 61. Hayden pulled in 61 percent of the vote in the Minneapolis district. He'll face Republican Bruce Lundeen, Independence Party member Matt Brillhart and Green Party member Farheen Hakeem in the general election. The seat was vacated when DFL Sen. Linda Berglin announced she was retiring to take a job with Hennepin County.
In Senate District 46, Democrat Chris Eaton received 88 percent of the vote in the DFL primary against Timothy Davis. Republican Cory Jensen easily defeated Ryan Sibinski to win the GOP primary. Eaton, Jensen and Independence Party candidate Tom Reynolds all move on to the general election ballot. The seat, which includes Brooklyn Center and Brooklyn Park, was vacated when DFL Sen. Linda Scheid died in June.
The general election will be held on October 18 for both seats.