Welcome to the Daily Digest, where a vote on child care unionization is put on hold, MPR takes a look at the GOP party shake-up, and Reuters reports Romney spent $100,000 to replace the computers used during his governorship.
The state's Republican party is trying to pull together after a major staff shake-up, MPR reports.
Former Republican State Representative Marty Seifert told the Marshall Independent he has "zero interest" in leading the state's Republican party.
A Ramsey County judge blocked a vote to unionize day care workers.
A separate Minnesota court ruled that banning those who have committed a violent crime from owning guns doesn't violate the Constitution.
The state's farmers have been burned by the collapse of a major commodities trading firm, reports the Associated Press.
Gov. Mark Dayton spoke to the state's counties.
Dayton wants the Crystal Sugar labor dispute talks to resume.
Tim Pawlenty has been appointed to Digital River's board. It's his fourth position.
Prototypes for the new health care exchange are now online, MPR reports.
Former Vice President Walter Mondale has endorsed Kari Dziedzic in her bid to replace Sen. Larry Pogemiller. She faces off against other candidates today to become the DFL nominee.
The Vikings and the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission are at odds over when the team's Metrodome lease ends.
The Senate holds a hearing on a new stadium at 12:30 p.m. today.
President Barack Obama asked Republicans to get behind a plan to extend the payroll tax cut.
Democrats offered a compromise proposal.
Unlike many of his GOP colleagues, Mitt Romney said he would support extending the cuts.
Meanwhile, in Minnesota's 1st CD, GOP hopeful Mike Parry is asking incumbent DFLer Tim Walz to support an extension that "does not add to the deficit or raise taxes on other Americans."
Democrats are tweaking their messaging to appeal to those who support the Occupy Wall Street movement. Rep. Keith Ellison is mentioned.
Norm Coleman wrote an op-ed, saying government is blocking rural broadband. He singles out LightSquared, a
Minnesota Virginia-based company that is touting a broadband system that the military worries could interfere with GPS. Coleman is a paid adviser to the company.
Around the Nation
Expect slower mail in 2012.
Post offices will close, but there are no decisions about which ones, according to the St. Cloud Times.
France and Germany say they want to draft a new European Union treaty to prevent against another economic crisis, reports the New York Times.
On the Campaign Trail
Reuters reports Romney spent $100,000 to replace computers in his office at the end of his governorship. The news outlet calls it "an unprecedented effort to keep his records secret."
Since Herman Cain dropped out of the race, Rep. Michele Bachmann has been saying his supporters are becoming her supporters. Most recently, she told a South Carolina crowd that "our phone has been ringing off the hook," according to MSNBC.
That conflicts with this tweet from the Washington Post's Amy Gardner: "Steve Grubbs just told John King that Gingrich has picked up 83% of Cain's IA support."
Despite her low polling numbers, Republican voters are "recognizing Bachmann's sheer determination and tenacity," Byron York writes.
Public Policy Polling shows that Bachmann's favorability is up to 56/35 from 44/38 in October.
The U.K.'s Daily Mail reports that a little boy told Bachmann at a book signing event that "My mommy's gay but she doesn't need fixing."
The Washington Post explains the political power of Donald Trump.
Jon Huntsman will hold a fundraiser in Minneapolis.
A new Gallup poll shows Republicans believe Newt Gingrich and Romney are the only acceptable candidates for the party.
Nevertheless, Gingrich's campaign faces hurdles.
The GOP's top candidates are staying away from the early caucus and primary states, Politico reports.
But they aren't shying away from the airwaves.
Campaign Time Machine
Once upon a time, Romney criticized Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry for being a flip-flopper. It's a gripe Romney's now hearing from both sides.
It's been a nagging question behind many of the leading proposals to pay for a Vikings stadium: If gambling revenues are used to pay the debt service on a new stadium, will anyone actually loan the money?
It's an important question, because when it comes to bonds, Minnesota's money actually comes in several tiers: the highest is general obligation debt service, the state's tried and truest revenue source. Pledged revenue and legislative appropriations come next.
But new gambling proceeds, be they from a racino, a downtown Minneapolis casino or new pull-tabs, don't really fit any of those categories. Those funds are not a known or guaranteed revenue source because they'd be brand new.
That has bond underwriters quietly expressing their reluctance about betting on gambling. Some suggest gambling revenue would have to be discounted by as much as 50 percent to calculate the available debt service.
That may require "credit enhancement" from the state to make the bonds affordable, which is to say, a pledge that taxpayers will co-sign the stadium mortgage, even if gambling pays the bills.
Part of the testimony at this afternoon's Senate stadium hearing is supposed to include a presentation from Minnesota Management and Budget on how this might actually be accomplished. So-called appropriation bonds are one solution. They'd have the Legislature paying the debt service with 30 years of appropriations, backfilled by the gambling proceeds flowing into state coffers.
Here's the one-page explainer MMB will be handing out at today's hearing:
Minnesota Bond Fact Sheet
From MPR's Tim Nelson...
White Earth tribal chairwoman Erma Vizenor is in town to testify to the stadium finance hearing this afternoon. Word has been that they're going to make an offer to help fund a Vikings stadium.
People familiar with the situation say the tribe will offer to build a new casino in the Twin Cities that would earn $300 million in net revenues, to be split between the state and the tribe.
The casino would have about 150 table games, and approximately 4,000 machines. A single-pager making its way around says the deal would also ban any more Twin Cities casinos be built until the White Earth casino mortgage is paid off.
Bill Haas, lobbyist for the White Earth Tribe, says the offer is legit and the tribe plans to bring it forward in today's hearing.12 Comments)
Posted at 3:30 PM on December 6, 2011
by Brett Neely
Filed under: U.S. House
WASHINGTON - As protesters affiliated with the Occupy movement flooded Capitol Hill today to express their discontent with what they describe as a Congress controlled by corporations, DFL Rep. Keith Ellison introduced a constitutional amendment to regulate how political campaigns are financed.
Called the "Get Corporate Money Out of Politics" amendment, the measure would overturn the 2009 Citizens United Supreme Court decision by declaring that corporations do not have the same free speech rights as individuals and would give Congress and the states the power to regulate how companies get involved in politics.
Democrats, particularly liberals such as Ellison, argue that the Citizens United decision allows free-spending corporations to drown out the voices of those with smaller wallets during heated elections. Republicans, who often draw on support from the business community, view Citizens United as a way of leveling the playing field between the two parties, arguing that labor unions are able to spend heavily on get out the vote operations prior to elections.
Ellison's proposed amendment faces an uphill battle as the measure is unlikely to get a vote - let alone the necessary two-thirds majority required for constitutional amendments - in both chambers of Congress as well as ratification by three quarters of the states. The last successful amendment to the Constitution was in 1992, when the 27th Amendment was ratified. That amendment, first proposed in 1789, prohibits Congress from giving itself pay raises until its next session.
WASHINGTON - DFL Rep. Tim Walz took to the witness stand Wednesday to argue that his bill to ban insider trading by members of Congress is needed to restore the public's faith in the battered institution.
Testifying before the House Financial Services Committee, Walz said he was surprised to learn about academic studies showing that stock portfolios of members of Congress regularly outpaced the market by 6 to 10 percent.
"Now that may be due to the infinite wisdom that resides in these halls or it could be something different," Walz said. "Luck? Smart, savvy trading? Or the possibility that there was insider knowledge. I don't know.'
Walz wouldn't have been there testifying along with co-sponsors Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and Walter Jones (R-NC) had 60 Minutes not aired an exhaustive report on congressional insider trading allegations. That story included allegations that Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL), now chairman of the Financial Services Committee, had profited from stock trades in the days leading up to the 2008 financial crisis.
While congressional ethics rules currently prohibit members of Congress from using knowledge gleaned in their official capacity for profit, Walz's bill, known as the STOCK Act, would apply federal insider trading laws to members of Congress.
Versions of the STOCK Act have been kicking around Capitol Hill for several years and Walz was not one of the bill's original authors. But as public disapproval of the body has grown, Walz has adopted the legislation and become one its most forceful advocates.
"If you think a 9 percent approval rating is bad, don't pass anything on this. Drag it out and don't do anything and watch what happens," Walz told the committee.
Before the 60 Minutes report aired last month, Walz's bill had a half-dozen co-sponsors. By Wednesday, his office reported that 170 members of Congress, including Minnesota's other three DFL representatives, had signed onto the bill.
In a sign that the GOP House leadership wants to clear the air around Congress, Bachus announced at the hearing that the bill would get a markup by the full committee, a key step that could enable the measure to get a vote by the entire House.(4 Comments)
Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann underscored her conservative credentials in a telephone conference call with supporters on Tuesday evening. In the call that lasted more than an hour, Bachmann also sharply criticized some of her fellow GOP presidential nomination contenders.
"I am the one, true core-conservative in this race. We have a lot of great pretenders out there, a lot of frugal socialists that want to be president, not me. I am the true core-conservative who's been the consistent fighter," said Bachmann.
Bachmann said she was not interested in "trashing the candidates," but instead wanted to "bring clarity."
"There's a big difference," said Bachmann. "We're really down to just a few candidates that are viable and today Newt Gingrich is number one in the polls and Mitt Romney is also up in the polls and Ron Paul also has a following. Here's what you need to know: Both Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich are the consummate insiders in this race."
Bachmann criticized Gingrich for money he's accepted for "influence peddling." She called Romney and Gingrich the "father and grandfather of ObamaCare," and she criticized both for past positions on global warming, legalized abortion and same-sex marriage.
Throughout the call, Bachmann urged supporters to donate time and money to her effort to win the Iowa caucuses which will take place on January 3.
"These next few weeks are crucial. We will decide if we have a great pretender for our nominee, somebody who's going to be no different at all from the past politicians in Washington, people taking $100 million dollars or more because they're for sale for the highest bidder, or will it be somebody who actually agrees with you and you can have that chance. You can tell your children and your grandchildren that, when it was time to step up, you stepped up," Bachmann said appealing for supporters to give their "very best donation" to her campaign.
Bachmann cited recent endorsements and poll improvements as evidence her campaign "is surging."(10 Comments)