Today is the 70th Anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack. Many groups are remembering the day with ceremonies.
The Pearl Harbor Survivors Association and Fort Snelling National Cemetery Memorial Rifle Squad will host a remembrance ceremony at the Veterans Service building this morning.
Under the Dome
Minneapolis city officials have picked a renovated Metrodome site as the best option for the Vikings.
The White Earth Tribe proposed a metro casino for a stadium.
Gov. Dayton is still mulling whether to appeal a temporary restraining order the ends forbids some child care workers from voting to join a union.
Minnesota is among the state's with the least prescriptive laws against bullying.
Dayton also attended a fundraiser for food shelves.
The U of M Board of Regents will consider a tuition hike for business students.
A new union is steadily attracting new members from the law enforcement community.
Kari Dziedzic won the DFL primary in Senate District 59.
Susan Allen won the DFL primary in House District 61B.
The Washington Post says Congress is moving very slowly this year. The number of bills passed and signed into law is much lower than other years.
The Mayo Clinic's lawyers will argue a patent case before the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Chief of the FAA quit his position after getting arrested for drunken driving.
The FDA will work with a trade group to speed up the approval process for medical devices.
The U.S. will use foreign aid to defend gay rights abroad.
Federal officials released a scathing report on actions taken by a West Virginia mine. The Hill says GOP Rep. John Kline praised the report's findings but didn't say whether he would support additional mine safety legislation.
DFL Rep. Tim Walz testified in support of a bill that would ban insider trading in Congress.
The proposed PolyMet copper mine is facing more delays in the timetable to finish its environmental review. GOP Rep. Chip Cravaack is mentioned.
Congress looked at allowing cameras in the U.S. Supreme Court. DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar held the hearing.
DFL Rep. Keith Ellison introduced a constitutional amendment that would regulate how political campaigns are financed.
DFL Rep. Collin Peterson says there will "hardly be any money" in the bioenergy sector in the next Farm Bill.
Minnesota farmers are stuck in the MF Global scandal.
GOP Rep. Chip Cravaack attended the White House Christmas party on Monday night.
Race for MNGOP Chair
Former Speaker Steve Sviggum tells MPR News "That's not true" when asked if he's a possible candidate for MNGOP Party Chair.
Pat Shortridge, who worked for Marco Rubio, Dick Armey and Mark Kennedy, says he's thinking about running for the position.
John Gilmore says Mike Vekich also declined to make a run.
Race for President
President Obama used a speech in Kansas to vow a fight for the middle class.
Massachusetts releases Mitt Romney's records.
Romney will appear on Fox News Sunday this weekend. It's the first time since March of 2010 that he'll appear on a Sunday morning talk show.
Newt Gingrich has a double digit lead in a new national poll.
AP says Newt Gingrich's long record in D.C. is coming back to haunt him.
MPR reports that GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann criticized her competitors in a tele-town hall forum.
An eight-year-old boy tells Bachmann that his mom is gay and doesn't need "fixing."
Bachmann also says Donald Trump's "question of bias" is keeping her from signing up for his debate.
Two students challenged Rick Santorum in Iowa.
Rick Perry called some of his top donors from government phones.
WASHINGTON - Michele Bachmann's weak poll numbers may be showing up in slow sales of her memoir, Core of Conviction. In the two weeks since the book was released, it's sold just 3,000 copies despite a media blitz and numerous book-signing events by Bachmann.
Those numbers come from Nielsen BookScan, which gets the information directly from Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and most other retailers. The company estimates its sales numbers capture 75 percent of the book market although it currently does not get information from discount retailers Wal-Mart or Sam's Club.
As of 5 PM ET on Wednesday, the book ranked 4,200 on Amazon's bestseller list, although it ranked 62 on the site's political bestseller list.
The Nielsen figures also don't include bulk purchases made by political campaigns and outside groups. In the run-up to the book launch, Bachmann's campaign was offering donors an autographed copy of the book for $75.
A representative of the book's publisher, Sentinel Press, declined to comment about the sales figures, citing a long-standing policy.(1 Comments)
Posted at 1:19 PM on December 7, 2011
by Tom Scheck
There are a few people who are considering a run for chair of the Republican Party of Minnesota. Party leaders are still trying to set a date for the election after Tony Sutton abruptly resigned as chair on Friday.
The next chair will have a lot of work to do. The party is more than $500,000 in debt and needs to organize for the 2012 elections without a top-tier U.S. Senate candidate to challenge DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
Here's a list of those who are either thinking about running or say they won't run for the position.
Former state Rep. Mike Osskopp: Told MPR News that he's thinking about it. He said he'll decide by Sunday. He served in the MN House and also worked for GOP Rep. John Kline.
Campaign consultant Pat Shortridge: Told MPR News that he's thinking about it. Shortridge has worked for the NRCC, former Rep. Mark Kennedy, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and former House Majority Leader Dick Armey.
Terry McCall: There's a recruiting effort to convince Terry McCall into the race. McCall is the chair of the 2nd District Congressional Republicans and vice chair of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Minnesota.
Starkey Labs executive Brandon Sawalich:
MPR News couldn't reach him for comment. Update: Sawalich tells MPR News that he'll take the weekend to talk with friends, family and advisers about running for the post. He said he'll decide by Monday. Sawalich briefly ran for party chair in 2009.
Mike Vekich: Reports on Twitter say he's not running but he has not returned a message from MPR News. Vekich was interim director of the MN Lottery and chaired former Gov. Tim Pawlenty's 21st Century Tax Reform Commission.
Former MN House GOP Speaker Steve Sviggum: Told MPR News that he's not running.
Andy Parrish: GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann's Chief of Staff told MPR News he's not running.
Former Deputy Chair Michael Brodkorb: Not running
6th District Chair David Fitzsimmons: Not running
News Corp. executive Bill Guidera: Star Tribune quotes him as saying he will not run.
Former MNGOP executive director Ben Golnik: Not running.
Joe Repya: Told KTLK on Saturday that he's being recruited and is considering it.
Sue Jeffers: Told MPR immediately after Tony Sutton resigned that she'd consider it. Update: Jeffers told MPR News on 12/8 that she's still considering the position.
After last summer's budget breakdown, the state got some good financial news: it will have an $876 million budget surplus going into the coming legislative session.
But that bright spot was quickly overshadowed by the fact that the state is still projected to have a $1.3 billion deficit in the coming fiscal year - and that doesn't include the money the state borrowed from schools to help close the current budget cycle's deficit, some lawmakers point out.
Among them is Sen. Richard Cohen, DFL-St. Paul, who issued this reminder during a press conference after Minnesota Management and Budget released the latest forecast.
"We've used school shifts over the years. This isn't the first time," he said. "But there's always been some ability to see ahead to pay back that school shift... This is the first time we've had a shift that goes on forever."
Cohen appears to be correct that the governor and lawmakers have entered uncharted territory when it comes to using this budget fix.
Many times, the state has given schools only part of their annual aid one year and the rest the following year; it's a trick that allows the Legislature and governor to borrow money from schools in the short term to balance the general fund books, without actually cutting the amount schools are owed.
The proportions have changed depending on the state's budget outlook, but, at best, schools get 90 percent of their aid in one fiscal year, and the remaining 10 percent the following.
To solve Minnesota's most recent debt problems, schools are now getting 60 percent of their aid in one year and the remainder in the next. It's not technically a cut, but the latest change has created cash flow issues for some schools who've had to take out loans or use reserves to make ends meet between checks.
If the state decided today to revert to its old formula, it would cost $2.1 billion (that's not including a separate school-related budget trick that saved the state $600 million.) That figure is not included in the coming two-year budget cycle's $1.3 billion projected deficit.
To assess Cohen's claim, PoliGraph put itself in the shoes of a Minnesotan who might not know much about education funding. From that perspective, Cohen's claim is confusing because he makes it sounds as if latest shift is unprecedented because there's no plan to pay it off.
But back in 1983, schools started receiving only 85 percent of their payment one year, and the remaining 15 percent the next - and that went on for 15 years without an end in sight.
It's also worth noting that the law requires the state to give schools extra cash when it has it; surpluses, such as the one Minnesota has now, must first be used to beef up the state's cash flow and budget reserve accounts, and leftovers must be given to schools to make up for the shift. (There's not enough of a surplus to do that this time around, though.)
So, while we don't know when the current round of schools borrowing will end, there is a mechanism in state law that requires schools are paid back.
Cohen said he was trying to underscore how enormous this particular shift is compared to others.
"No one has a realistic idea of how to pay back $2.1 billion," he said.
Cohen has a point: according to historical data provided by the Minnesota Legislature's House Research staff, schools are getting paid a much smaller portion of their aid each year than they have in the past.
And so far, it's the most expensive shift. For instance, in 1997, when lawmakers ended that 15-year-long payment shift, it only cost the state $156 million
Cohen is right that the state has borrowed money from schools in the past to make ends meet, including one stretch that lasted 15 years with no specified end date.
But this fix is different even from that one. Never before has the state delayed such a large percentage of school payments. And while technically the governor and Legislature created a mechanism to correct the shift, it is hard to see how that will happen, given how expensive it would be to pay off today.
This claim earns an accurate on the PoliGraph test.
Minnesota Management and Budget, November Forecast, accessed Dec. 6, 2011
Minnesota Public Radio News, Budget surplus gives state officials wiggle room in legislative session, by Tom Scheck, Dec. 2, 2011
Minnesota Statute 16A.152, accessed Dec. 6, 2011
Minnesota Public Radio News, Video: Budget deal explained, by Molly Bloom and Curtis Gilbert, July 15, 2011
Minnesota Legislature House Fiscal Analysis, State Education Funding Accounting Shifts, January 2011
Interview and e-mail exchange, Greg Crowe, House Research analysis, Dec. 6, 2011
Interview, Rep. Mindy Greiling, Dec. 6, 2011
Interview, Sen. Richard Cohen, Dec. 6, 2011(1 Comments)
Posted at 4:32 PM on December 7, 2011
by Tom Scheck
The Republican Party of Minnesota will meet on Dec. 31 to elect a new party chair.
"Breaking News: State Central Committee meeting set for Dec. 31 at 9am," Deputy Chair Kelly Fenton wrote on Twitter.
MNGOP spokeswoman Heather Rubash says a location for the event is TBA.
Roughly 350 party activists will be expected to elect a new chair to replace Tony Sutton. Sutton abruptly resigned last Friday. He left the party as concerns increased over the party's finances. The next chair will be expected to raise money and dig the party out of debt. Party leaders say the MNGOP has more than $500,000 in debt.
I wrote earlier today about who is expected to run for the position.
WASHINGTON - Rep. Michele Bachmann made the case on Wednesday that her commitment to Jewish causes makes her the best Republican presidential candidate in a still crowded and fluid field.
In a speech before the Jewish Republican Coalition, the last cattle call-style event involving most of the GOP's presidential candidates before voting begins next month, Bachmann promised the crowd that one of her first acts if elected President would be to move the U.S. embassy from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem, a promise echoed by many of the candidates who spoke before her.
"I've even found a donor who would put up the money for the move," Bachmann said. "So the boxes could be unpacked on day one."
Bachmann's speech mostly touched on familiar themes. She said the Obama Administration had "forgotten the importance of Israel to America" and "confused engagement with appeasement and has inspired Israel's enemies." The three-term congresswoman also called on Obama to order the Navy to begin preparations for a naval blockade against Iran and said covert operations to prevent the country from building a nuclear weapon should be stepped up.
On the domestic political front, Bachmann called the Occupy Wall Street movement "the Obama re-election team" and said Obama stands with that group but not with Israel.
During a question and answer session with the audience a pediatrician asked Bachmann about her views on vaccines, especially in light of her controversial statements from the summer when she falsely linked the HPV vaccine to mental retardation. Bachmann ducked the question, arguing that her opposition to a plan for universal HPV vaccinations of young women in Texas was based on the allegations of "crony capitalism" between fellow candidate and Texas Gov. Rick Perry and pharmaceutical companies.
Bachmann's trip to the Capital also enabled her to stop by Congress and vote in the House chamber. She last voted in the House on Nov. 18.
One of the chief authors of the Vikings stadium bill says Ramsey County need to come up with other options for how to pay for a new stadium. Ramsey County officials were pushing for a local option sales tax to finance the stadium but lawmakers were cool to the idea because it would have needed voter approval.
Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, says the county should be looking at other options to finance a portion of the roughly $1 billion stadium.
"Ramsey County has made clear that there will be no property tax revenues generated for this," Lanning said. "There will be no local option sales tax available but you've got other taxes, hospitality taxes and other forms of raising revenue, that local units of government can decide to put in place without a referendum requirement."
Lanning has said some form of gambling expansion will also have to be on the table but he doesn't think it will generate enough to finance the stadium. Vikings officials say the Arden Hills site in Ramsey County are their first option.
Lanning says the earliest supporters will release a bill will be January(2 Comments)
WASHINGTON - Two Minnesota Republican House members have been appointed to the conference committee delegated with working out differences between the House and Senate Pentagon authorization bills.
John Kline and Chip Cravaack will be just two members of the 100 member conference committee that's split between both parties and both chambers of Congress. Kline, who's also the chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee, serves on the House Armed Services Committee. Cravaack isn't a member of the Armed Services Committee but a large number of "outside" members are also included on the conference committee because of the broad scope of the defense bill.
Both Kline and Cravaack have a serious interest in military issues. Kline spent 25 years in the Marine Corps while Cravaack was educated at the naval academy and served as a helicopter pilot.(1 Comments)