Posted at 6:30 AM on December 14, 2011
by Tom Scheck
Filed under: Daily Digest
The National Transportation Safety Board recommends states ban cell phone use for drivers but it isn't being fully embraced by state policy leaders. "We need to set rules or laws that we can enforce," Gov. Dayton said on Midday. He didn't commit to the ban. DFL Rep. Frank Hornstein sent out a release saying he supports it. MinnPost says GOP Sen. Warren Limmer opposes it.
Dayton appeared on MPR's Midday on Tuesday. You can listen to the full show here.
Brooklyn Center voted to keep the city's property tax levy at its current rate. Voters defeated the school district backed levy eight times in a row before passing it last night.
Tidbit: The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce's Session Priorities Dinner is Jan. 24. Gov. Dayton will keynote the event.
MPR says Minnesota's frigid climate is a selling point for data farms.
The Pi Press says Republican Tom Emmer, who lost the race for governor in 2010, is complaining that Hamline University rescinded a job offer to him because some staffers objected to his political views.
An outdoors group finalizes its recommendations for Legacy Fund money.
A Twin Cities lawyer gets jail time for Medicaid fraud.
The IRRRB reviews $8 million in public works grants.
Attorney General Lori Swanson is accusing a Texas company of stonewalling her investigation into whether it cheated a vulnerable adult out of thousands of dollars.
Paynesville is pushing the state to speed up the pollution clean up in the city.
Gov. Dayton suggests that he would want to clean up the Arden Hills site even if they don't get the stadium.
Manpower is predicting hiring may pick up slightly in Minnesota in the 1st Quarter of 2012.
The House voted for a payroll tax cut extension bill that President Obama threatened to veto.
DFL Rep. Tim Walz broke with Democrats and voted for the bill.
A Minnesota farmer asks MF Global at a hearing: "Where's my money?"
An NBC News/Wall St. Journal poll finds that 75% of those polled rate this Congress as below average or one of the worst. A new low. 69% of those polled disapprove of the job Republicans are doing. 62% disapprove of the job Democrats are doing.
Attorney General Eric Holder is vowing to enforce civil rights protections.
The Senate passed GOP Rep. Chip Cravaack's TSA bill.
DFL Rep. Keith Ellison and House liberals float a jobs bill.
The Postal Service will delay its cutbacks until May.
Race for President
President Obama urges his supporters to stick with him.
Newt Gingrich surged past Mitt Romney in a new NBC News/Wall St. Journal poll.
The same poll says Romney is struggling with primary voters. Gingrich has problems with general election voters.
The NBC poll finds that a majority of Republicans view the presidential field as "average."
A new Public Policy Polling poll says Ron Paul is closing in on Newt Gingrich in Iowa.
Romney tells the Washington Post that Gingrich is an "extremely unreliable" conservative leader.
A number of Iowa pastors say GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann is the most biblically qualified to be president.
Tim Pawlenty rips Newt Gingrich on foreign policy.
Roll Call says some GOP strategists are worried that Gingrich will have a negative effect on other GOP candidates on the ballot.
AP says social issues are bubbling up in the presidential race.
Two Iowa pastors also call Gingrich an "empty suit with a broken zipper."
One of Gingrich's staffers in Iowa left the campaign after he called Mormonism "a cult."
Rick Santorum questions Bachmann's experience.
Stu Rothenberg says he regrets being bullish on Tim Pawlenty's presidential prospects.
Donald Trump won't host a presidential debate but may run as an independent.
With the start of the 2012 Legislative Session now less than six weeks away, House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, has sent out a detailed list of other key dates.
House GOP leaders are planning an early end for the session on April 30.
Here's are the calendar highlights:
Tuesday, January 12 - Pre-introduction of House bills
Tuesday January 24 - House session convenes at noon
Wednesday, February 25 - One Minnesota Conference
February 2-7 - Prencint caucus break
Wednesday, February 8 - House session convenes at noon
April 6-13 - Easter/Passover break
Monday, April 16 - Official House business begins at 8:15 a.m., session convenes at 3:00 p.m.
Monday, April 30 - House will adjourn sine die
It's still not clear if the Minnesota Senate plans to follow the same calendar.
GOP Majority spokesman Michael Brodkorb said Senate leaders are still working on their session schedule.
"There may or may not be some differences," Brodkorb said.
Two Minnesota unions want to organize Minnesota's in-home child care workers, and the effort has sparked a heated battle between the Dayton administration and Republicans in the Legislature.
Among those who oppose the effort is Rep. Torrey Westrom, R-Elbow Lake, who sent a letter to child care providers encouraging them to reject unionization.
On Dec. 2, he wrote that, while only some day care providers will be able to vote on whether to unionize, "the other 7,000 providers will be forced to pay full or 'fair share' union dues, and will be subject to additional regulation, even though they were denied the right to vote in this election."
Westrom's claim is false.
Two Minnesota unions - American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees and the Service Employees International Union - are trying to unionize the state's in-home day care providers.
On Nov. 15, Gov. Mark Dayton issued an executive order that would allow Minnesota's day care providers who are licensed and registered, and who participate in a state program that subsidizes child care to vote on unionization. That's roughly 4,200 providers out of the approximately 11,000 in the state.
If the majority of those 4,200 agree, it would give the union the right to hash out issues, such as regulation and subsidy rates, with the administration. At this point, a court has put a restraining order on Dayton's executive order but Dayton plans to contest that order.
So, Westrom is correct that only some child care providers will be able to vote on whether there should be a union. But he's wrong that those who don't want to be in the union would have to pay fair share union dues.
A Frequently Asked Questions document on the executive order from Dayton's office is clear on this:
"The Minnesota Fair Share law (Minn. Stat. § 179A.06, subd. 3), which requires all public employees to contribute 'a fair share fee for services rendered by the exclusive representative,' would not apply to these family child care providers."
Dayton's executive order makes clear that, "nothing in this order shall be construed to require participation, or the involuntary payment of dues by any family child care provider."
As for additional regulation, Westrom is off the mark there as well. At this point, unionization doesn't come with additional regulations, let alone regulations that all of Minnesota's 11,000 in-home child care workers would be subject to.
Westrom conceded that given the complexity of the issue and the amount of context needed, the sentence may have been better written as: "The other 7,000 providers may be forced to pay full or "fair share" union dues, and will be subject to additional regulation, even though they were denied the right to vote in this election."
Under Gov Dayton's order child care providers who are not allowed to vote on unionization will not have to pay fair share dues.
Westrom's claim is false.
Letter, Rep. Torrey Westrom to constituents, Dec. 2, 2011
Office of Gov. Mark Dayton, Governor Dayton issues executive order calling for union election among child care providers, November 15, 2011
Office of Gov. Mark Dayton, Frequently Asked Questions about Child Care Collective Bargaining, accessed Dec. 13, 2011
Associated Press via Minnesota Public Radio News, Dayton to contest child care unionization ruling, December 8, 2011(4 Comments)
Posted at 5:01 PM on December 14, 2011
by Brett Neely
Filed under: U.S. House
WASHINGTON - Minneapolis Rep. Keith Ellison stepped up his campaign to pressure home supply chain Lowes to reconsider its decision to pull its advertising from the TLC reality TV show All-American Muslim after the company came under criticism from conservative groups.
Ellison was one of 32 House Democrats who sent a letter Wednesday to Lowes CEO Robert Niblock expressing dismay about the company's decision. Ellison is one of two Muslim-Americans serving in Congress.
"[Y]our actions give credibility to the view that we accept discrimination towards Muslims as a nation, which harms our national security by feeding recruitment efforts by extremist Islamic organizations," the letter said.
Lowes pulled its ads from the show after the Florida Family Association issued a petition criticizing the company for airing what it described as "propaganda" because the program didn't depict the Muslim-American community as one "whose agenda poses a clear and present danger to liberties and traditional values that the majority of Americans cherish."