Posted at 6:40 AM on October 5, 2011
by Tom Scheck
Filed under: Daily Digest
Gov. Dayton and other members of the state's Executive Council hold a hearing today to discuss the issue of mineral rights on private land. MPR looks at how the state Department of Natural Resources has offered four mining companies the lease rights to the minerals beneath the homes of people in northern Minnesota. The Star Tribune says it's a last ditch effort by the landowners to stop the leases.
Proposed Ely mine hired firms to prep the project for review.
Gov. Dayton's jobs summit will be held on October 25.
The Pi Press reports that 21 people have been laid off at the Department of Human Services.
The Pi Press also says the public was a no show on MnDOT's 50 year vision.
Senate Higher Ed Chair Michelle Fischbach and other Republicans will visit some of the state's higher education institutions today.
The five-judge panel takes another round of public testimony tonight. The court kicked off the first of its eight public hearings in Bloomington last night. MPR takes a look at one of the main battles between Democrats and Republicans: the definition of communities of interest.
Same-sex marriage amendment
The Campaign Finance Board says groups working on ballot initiatives have to provider greater information when it comes to disclosure. Supporters of the amendment say they won't oblige.
The Legislature is waiting for the stadium feasibility study.
Ramsey County Medical Examiner
The Ramsey County Attorney's Office will further review a case involving the medical examiner's disputed testimony.
Fed Chair Ben Bernanke told Congress that sluggish growth is ahead for the economy.
Congress voted to keep the lights on - for now.
President Obama singles out House Majority Leader Eric Cantor as the obstacle to passing the jobs bill.
Republicans are accusing Attorney General Eric Holder of misleading Congress and are looking to appoint a special counsel to investigate him.
GOP Rep. Chip Cravaack wrote on Twitter that he supports the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Holder.
Drug abusers are exploiting the Medicare drug benefit.
A poll says the well off are ok with raising taxes.
GOP Rep. Erik Paulsen makes the pitch for the Free Trade Agreements.
DFL Rep. Keith Ellison is praising the "Occupy Wall St." campers.
DFL Sen. Al Franken is sponsoring legislation that would allow consumers to sue their cell phone carrier.
The feds find money for the state's wolf control program. DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar is mentioned.
Race for Congress
Daniel Fanning is the 4th Democrat to announce he's running in Minnesota's 8th District.
Race for President
New Jersey Chris Christie says he won't run (again).
Politico says Christie's exit means it's "Mitt's moment" to lock up the nomination.
Romney ripped Rick Perry on Social Security at a Florida retirement home.
Romney will give a foreign policy speech on Friday.
Perry reportedly raised $15 million in the last quarter.
A CBS poll shows Perry sliding and Herman Cain rising.
CBS News is reporting that GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann told a member of the audience in Iowa that "I agree" when he suggested Congress impeach President Obama. Bachmann's spokeswoman later said she doesn't agree with the impeachment of the president but agrees that people are "frustrated."
A few Pawlenty supporters in Florida are now backing Romney.
Rep. Chip Cravaack is among more than 50 Republican congressional incumbents benefiting from a new $1.6 million media campaign launched by the American Action Network, an outside advocacy group.
The media buy is a combination of direct mail and print ads. The mailer going out in Cravaack's district focuses on President Barack Obama's Medicare record.
You can see an example here.
This is a second wave of ads from the group. Cravaack was among the congressional incumbents who benefitted from a $1 million ad campaign AAN paid for over the summer.
If AAN's name sounds familiar, that's because it was started by a familiar Minnesota Republican. After losing a drawn-out battle to regain his U.S. Senate seat, Norm Coleman helped launch the group, and he remains chairman of the group's board despite his new role as special adviser to GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
AAN is a 501(c)(4). In plain English, that means it's a non-profit group that is technically meant to advocate for issues; no more than half of its activity can be political. Such groups are attractive to big donors because, in most cases, the organizations don't have to disclose their support.(2 Comments)
Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove, is raising concerns about the possible misuse of the state's Driver and Vehicle Services database.
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety has asked 18 law enforcement agencies to investigate after an audit found that a person's record had been accessed more than 400 times over the past four years by about 100 law enforcement employees. Limmer, who chairs the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee, wrote a letter today to DPS Commissioner Mona Dohman seeking additional information about the investigation.
"As you may know, protecting Minnesotans' data privacy is a longtime concern of our state legislature, and it is extremely important that law enforcement only access citizens' information during the course of investigations and other authorized duties," Limmer wrote. "I hope it is not the case in this situation, but it would be troubling to discover abuse of authority given to officers looking at a person's information without cause."
Limmer also wrote that he wants to determine if existing state law is "adequate in providing law enforcement with the professional continuity it needs in handling this issue."
Limmer and Dohman are scheduled to meet Friday to discuss the issue further.
After years of languishing, trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama are moving swiftly through Congress.
U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen, a Republican who represents Minnesota's 3rd Congressional District, is a fan of the pacts because they aim to produce jobs in the United States.
"These agreements will increase U.S. exports of goods and services and support the creation of over 250,000 new U.S. jobs," he said on Oct. 3.
Just how many jobs the deals will create is a matter of debate, and Paulsen's estimate is on the high end.
The U.S. Trade Representative's office (USTR) says the South Korea deal could create 70,000 jobs.
The administration isn't giving a jobs estimate for Colombia deal, but a rough ballpark estimate would be about 6,000 jobs based on numbers from the trade office.
As for the Panama deal, there is no export estimate because the effects of the agreement would be very small on the U.S. export market, according to the U.S. International Trade Commission's 2007 analysis of the agreement.
A separate estimate conducted by Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon who chairs a Senate trade subcommittee, shows that, taking into account changes in the economy since the recession, the South Korea agreement alone could create 280,000 jobs.
All those estimates leave out an important factor: Open trade will increase U.S. exports, but it will also increase U.S. imports, which means some people could lose their jobs. For instance, the Wyden report points out that employees in the manufacturing sector will be vulnerable as a result of the South Korea deal.
Robert Scott, an economist with the Economic Policy Institute, ran the numbers, too, and found that the South Korea and Colombia agreements would result in the loss of 214,000 jobs within seven years of ratification.
Paulsen's jobs estimate is on the high end of a range of estimates. As a result, PoliGraph rates this claim inconclusive.
Rep. Erik Paulsen, Paulsen Statement on Submission of Long-Awaited Trade Agreements, Oct. 3, 2011
YouTube, speech on the floor of the House of Representatives, Rep. Erik Paulsen, Oct. 3, 2011
The House Ways and Means Committee, Camp Sets Deadline for Moving the Three Pending Trade Agreements, But When Will the Administration Act?, Feb. 11, 2011
Bloomberg News, Obama Submits Pending Free-Trade Agreements to Congress, by Eric Martin, Oct. 3, 2011
Bloomberg, Obama Says U.S.-China Trade Spurs Prosperity for Both, By Edwin Chen and Julianna Goldman, Nov. 16, 2009
The New York Times, Free Trade Standoff Is Resolved, by Binyamin Appelbaum, Oct. 3, 2011
The United States International Trade Commission, The U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement: Potential Economy-wide and Selected Sectoral Effects, Dec. 2006
The United States International Trade Commission, The U.S.-Korea Trade Promotion Agreement: Potential Economy-wide and Selected Sectoral Effects, Sept. 2007
The United States International Trade Commission, The U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement: Potential Economy-wide and Selected Sectoral Effects, Sept. 2007
The White House, Statement by the President Announcing the U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement, December 3, 2010
The White House, Fact Sheets: U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement, April 19, 2011
The White House, Fact Sheets: U.S.-Columbia Trade Agreement and Action Plan, April 6, 2011
Public Citizen, The Incredible Shrinking FTA Jobs Claim, by Travis McArthur, March 25, 2011
The Economic Policy Institute, Trade policy and job loss, By Robert E. Scott, February 25, 2010
E-mail correspondence, Tom Erickson, spokesman, Rep. Erik Paulsen, Oct. 4, 2011
Interview, Robert Scott, economist, Economic Policy Institute, Oct. 5, 2011
WASHINGTON - The U.S. House Natural Resources Committee today overwhelmingly approved legislation to allow construction of a new $700 million bridge crossing the St. Croix River near Stillwater. The measure can now reach the House floor for a vote, although none has yet been scheduled.
Congressional approval is required to replace the aging lift bridge because the St. Croix River is protected by the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, authored by former DFL Sen. Walter Mondale, which generally prohibits significant new construction around protected stretches of river.
Although the bill was voted out of committee by a bipartisan 30-14 margin, there were moments of heated debate as some Democratic members of the panel took potshots at the bill's sponsor, Republican Congresswoman and presidential candidate Michele Bachmann.
Several members falsely claimed that the bill to authorize a new bridge constituted an earmark, which Bachmann has long rallied against. In fact, Congress has not appropriated any funds for the bridge, which is being paid for with regular state and federal highway funds from Minnesota and Wisconsin.
"To depart from these protections for the sake of one giant earmark, and it is giant, this is gargantuan, humongous, I'm not sure what adjective to apply, is a terrible precedent," said New Jersey Democrat Rush Holt,
But Utah Republican Rob Bishop argued that a lengthy stakeholder approval process, as well as the support from the top elected officials on both sides of the river, meant that there should be no reason why the measure should languish in the House any longer.
"The people on the ground who live here in this area, this is what they request, this is their consensus and it had been worked out by all the stakeholders in the past," said Bishop.
Today's hearing speeds the way for final approval of the bridge. Bachmann's original legislative language was struck from the bill and substituted with identical language introduced in the Senate by DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar. That means the House and Senate won't have to go into extra rounds of negotiation to reconcile the two bills.
Klobuchar's companion Senate bill still requires a committee hearing before it can move to the Senate floor for a vote.
In a statement, Bachmann expressed satisfaction that the bill had passed through the committee and urged the House and Senate to pass it.
"We cannot delay this project further or costs will continue to rise and safety could be compromised as the current bridge continues to age," said Bachmann.
If the bill passes both chambers of Congress, it will represent the most significant piece of legislation authored by Bachmann to become law since she entered the House in 2007.(1 Comments)
Gov. Dayton says he hasn't made a decision on whether he'll issue an executive order that would allow for in-home child care providers to vote on whether to join a union. Dayton says he hasn't been focused on the issue since he's been on his Trade Mission to Korea and attended the Democratic Governor's Association meetings in North Carolina. He said he'll talk with staff about the issue in the coming days.
"I'll be sitting down over the next couple of days to be brought up to speed on where things stand," Dayton told MPR News. "I wouldn't anticipate anything imminently. Probably next week or the week after. We'll have to see."
Dayton is considering issuing an executive order that would allow the 11,000 in-home child care workers to vote on whether to join a union. SEIU and AFSCME are encouraging Dayton to issue the executive order. Several Republican legislators and a few in-home child care owners have criticized the idea. One lawmaker said he would sue Dayton if he issued an executive order allowing for the vote.(3 Comments)