Posted at 6:53 AM on November 15, 2011
by Catharine Richert
Filed under: Daily Digest
Welcome to the Daily Digest, where Republican legislators propose cuts to property taxes, the supercommittee stares down a looming deadline, and we get a peek at Bachmann's memoir.
With concerns about the effect of property tax increases looming large across the state, House Republicans introduced a plan to cut them for some businesses and residents.
DLF Sen. Linda Higgins will retire.
The state is asking for a waiver from No Child Left Behind.
The stadium proposals for Minneapolis will be released today at the bi-monthly meeting of the 2020 Partners.
The Vikings will be buying ads to build support for a new stadium, the Star Tribune reports.
Despite the recession, Minnesota has preserved affordable housing.
St. Paul City Council member Dave Thune has won re-election to his Second Ward seat.
Gov. Mark Dayton's health care task force met for the first time Monday.
There are hints that St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman will run again.
At 1:30, Dayton will be interviewed by former Vikings player Chuck Foreman on his radio show.
Money and Politics
Take a peek at the invite for Rep. Collin Peterson's latest leadership PAC fundraiser, courtesy of the Washington Post.
A year from the 2012 elections, the Supreme Court announced it will hear arguments on the new health care law.
The supercommittee stares down its Thanksgiving deadline.
While we wait for a deficit plan, here's a guide to who's who on the special panel.
The writing of the new farm bill continues to be controversial.
Meanwhile, House and Senate lawmakers have agreed to a bill that will keep the government open until Dec. 16
Sen. Al Franken has introduced a bill that would make medical device approval faster, the Star Tribune reports.
Rep. John Kline is at the center of the debate over labor rules.
On the Campaign Trail
Fox News has a preview of Rep. Michele Bachmann's memoir.
She's touting this new web ad as part of her No Surprises 2012 theme.
Bachmann responded to a mother in Iowa who said her daughter is sick because of the HPV vaccine.
As Newt Gingrich ascends in the polls, questions about his marriages start to emerge.
YouTube won't air an ad opposing Rep. Keith Ellison.
Democrats in Wisconsin marked the official start of their effort to recall Gov. Scott Walker late Monday night.
Herman Cain had a "Rick Perry moment" during an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, says the Chicago Tribune.
A new poll shows that voters seen Cain in a less favorable light amid accusations of sexual harassment.
Mitt Romney heads to Iowa next week.
Bill Guidera won't challenge Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
From the Department of "Who Cares"...
Posted at 8:16 AM on November 15, 2011
by Mark Zdechlik
Filed under: Michele Bachmann
In a new web ad, Rep. Michele Bachmann accuses GOP presidential hopefuls Mitt Romney and Herman Cain of supporting legalized abortion. She goes after Ron Paul for sympathizing with Iran's desire for a nuclear weapons program. She rips Rick Perry for backing in-state tuition for dependents of illegal immigrants, and highlights his debate stumble. She also takes Newt Gingrich to task for siding with Democrats on the issue of global warming.
Bachmann maintains she is the only true "constitutional conservative'" in the race and is promising that with her campaign there will be "no surprises." Bachmann is campaigning in Iowa this week.
A new report by the Center for Responsive Politics shows that nearly half of all members of Congress are millionaires.
That's 249 of 530 members of the House and Senate included in CRP's study.
Here's CRP's entire list. Because lawmakers are only required to list their income and assets in ranges, it's hard to pin down exactly how much each member of Congress is worth.
So, CRP ranks lawmakers by average net worth.
By that measure, at least three members of the Minnesota delegation are part of the millionaires club, according to CRP's data.
DFL Sen. Al Franken in 62nd place with an average net worth of $8,747,525;
Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann in 194th place with an average net worth of $1,783,508;
and Republican Rep. Chip Cravaack in 217th place with an average net worth of $1,391,551.
Here's how the rest of the Minnesota delegation stacks up:
296th place: DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar with an average net worth of $724,514 (though she could also be among the Senate's millionaires if her net worth is closer to her maximum of $1,104,000).(1 Comments)
346th place: Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen with an average net worth of $487,017.
351st place: Republican Rep. John Kline with an average net worth of $471,006.
402nd place: DFL Rep. Collin C. Peterson with an average net worth of $263,005.
410th place: DFL Rep. Tim Walz with an average net worth of $247,502.
461st place: DFL Rep. Betty McCollum with an average net worth of $88,005.
506th place: DFL Rep. Keith Ellison who carries debt and has an average net worth of negative $14,497 as a result. If his assets are on the high end, he has a maximum net worth of $18,999.
DFL Gov. Mark Dayton signed an executive order today authorizing a union vote for thousands of state-susidized, in-home day care providers in Minnesota.
The order directs the State Bureau of Mediation Services to conduct the election, which will be scheduled in December. Membership would be voluntary if providers approved the unionization. During a news conference, Dayton acknowledged his support in general for labor unions. But he stressed his action was only mandating a vote.
"I've heard and met with both proponents and opponents of this measure," Dayton said. "So, it seems to me that given there is that dispute among those child care providers, the fairest way and the American way to resolve that dispute is through an election."
Republicans have been anticipating the action for weeks and questioning Dayton's authority to order such a vote. Sen. David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, repeated that charge after Dayton's announcement. Hann, who chairs the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, also threatened a legal fight.
"If you have a governor who's not willing to follow the law, then we have no choice but as a Legislature to go to an appropriate court and say you need to stop the governor from proceeding in this action because he is not warranted by law to do it," Hann said.
MPR's Tom Scheck contributed to this report.
Gov. Dayton says he thinks it's growing more unlikely that he'll call a special session to address the Vikings stadium issue.
"I'm doubtful that there will be a special session at this point given the pace of progress," Dayton told reporters today.
He said he wants to meet with Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, and Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, once they craft their stadium bill. The two lawmakers met last night with other stadium supporters in the Legislature who call themselves the stadium working group to discuss alternatives. Sen. Terri Bonoff, DFL-Minnetonka, says the group is making progress but is still working through details of how the stadium will be financed and where it should be built.
Dayton says he's still pushing for a deadline so lawmakers work with some urgency.
"I don't believe we're going to get to a specific proposal until some kind of deadline is established," Dayton said. "Otherwise it will just drag on."
Meanwhile, architects for three different stadium proposals in Minneapolis will release their proposals tonight at the bi-monthly meeting of the 2020 Partners.
Posted at 2:10 PM on November 15, 2011
by Tim Pugmire
Filed under: MN Legislature
State Rep. Bobby Joe Champion, DFL-Minneapolis, says he plans to run for the Minnesota Senate in District 58 next year.
Champion wants to replace Sen. Linda Higgins, DFL-Minneapolis, who announced earlier this week that she will not seek re-election to a sixth term. In a news release today, Champion said he is inspired by Higgins.
"I wish her all the best as she continues to advocate for the people of Minnesota," Champion wrote. "I can only hope to continue her work and represent the needs and values of our district in the State Senate. I look forward to bringing my voice to the Senate just as I've done in the House."
Champion is an attorney serving his second term in the House.
Posted at 3:44 PM on November 15, 2011
by Brett Neely
Filed under: U.S. House
WASHINGTON - Two weeks after a self-imposed deadline by congressional agriculture leaders to come up with $23 billion in cuts to farm programs, DFL Rep. Collin Peterson said Tuesday that he hopes an agreement can be worked out by the end of the week.
Peterson, the ranking Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, has been working behind closed doors with his House and Senate counterparts on a plan that would essentially be the next five year farm bill.
In October, the quartet promised the deliver legislation by early November that could tucked into the much larger much larger deficit reduction bill currently under negotiation by the special 12 member "super committee." That legislation is must be drafted by Nov. 23.
"Certain senators have brought problems to the table," said Peterson, who said the House members involved in the talks are agreed on the bill. Peterson said the sticking point remains the commodity chapter of the bill, which covers farm payments.
As is often the case with agricultural issues, Peterson said regional differences were at the heart of the disagreement, pointing to a variety of crops most commonly found in the South.
"Cotton, rice and peanuts need a different program than the rest of the crops," said Peterson.
The framework under negotiation would bring an end to to direct payments to farmers, a system in place since the 1990s, and replace it with expanded crop insurance and a so-called "shallow loss" revenue protection program that would compensate farmers when crop prices fall by a specified amount.
That proposal has drawn fire from some House members, including DFL Rep. Keith Ellison, and environmental groups opposed to farm subsidies who say the super committee legislation should not be used as a vehicle to create new spending programs. Under the special rules created for the committee last summer, the super committee's legislation is also immune to a Senate filibuster and cannot be amended.
Posted at 4:22 PM on November 15, 2011
by Brett Neely
Filed under: U.S. Senate
WASHINGTON - DFL Sen. Al Franken is the latest in a series of Minnesota lawmakers drafting bills to speed up the approval of medical devices.
Franken's bill, released Tuesday and co-sponsored with fellow Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and John Kerry (D-MA), eases some conflict of interest rules affecting outside experts on Food and Drug Administration review panels and lifts an FDA rule that caps profits for devices that treat rare conditions. Easing that rule is intended to encourage companies to develop devices that would otherwise serve a very small number of patients.
"My legislation would remove unnecessary barriers so that these critical medical devices get to the patients that need them as quickly and safely as possible," said Franken in a written statement.
His legislation follows bills released by DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar and GOP Rep. Erik Paulsen that are also intended to speed up the time it takes the FDA to review medical devices. All three bills ease the conflict of interest rules for outside experts, albeit in different ways. Franken's is the only bill to address the issue of treating rare conditions.
Minnesota's medical device industry includes large firms such as Medtronic and St. Jude Medical, as well as smaller venture-capital funded firms. The industry has ramped up its congressional lobbying efforts recently, arguing that a slowing FDA approval process is putting American companies at a competitive disadvantage vis a vis overseas rivals.