The House and Senate Rules committees are expected to take up the Voter ID bill this week.
The measure is poised to pass both chambers and land on the ballot.
The Star Tribune says a court fight is inevitable for Voter ID.
GOP Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem says the votes aren't there for the so-called Right-to-Work amendment.
MPR says the GOP focus on constitutional amendments could backfire if too many are on the ballot.
Gov. Dayton has separate meetings scheduled today with GOP House Speaker Kurt Zellers, GOP Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem and Minneapolis City Council members to discuss the stadium.
Dayton will try to pump some air into a stadium bill that has been deflated. The bill did not meet Friday's committee deadline and there are questions as to whether the bill can rise from the grave.
Tidbit: GOP House Speaker Kurt Zellers refused to say on Friday whether he'd try to move the bill out of committee. In fact, he said he hasn't even read the entire bill. GOP Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem said the bill would have to be approved by the Senate Local Government and Elections Committee before he acts on it.
Zellers said the committee deadline is the least of the stadium bill worries.
A rival stadium bill was approved by a Senate committee.
Under the Dome
Forum Communications says the path to ending the legislative session is fuzzy.
DFL Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk says the Brodkorb scandal is bringing dishonor to the Senate.
AP says lawmakers are treading softly around a possible lawsuit.
The Star Tribune says URS, which was under fire for the company's inspection of the I-35W bridge, is up for a light rail contract.
GOP state Rep. Mary Franson writes an op-ed criticizing the spine of the Republican Party in the Legislature.
KARE11 says students are trying to strip the misdemeanor immunity law from lawmakers.
The Star Tribune has a look at the battle over welfare benefits. One person's reform is another's person's cruelty.
The CBO says President Obama's budget produces a 2013 deficit of $977 billion.
Pro-Israeli groups differ on the best approach towards Iran. DFL Rep. Keith Ellison is mentioned.
President Obama's Administration outlined options on birth control coverage.
GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann presses Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to reject military aid to Egypt.
A U.S. soldier will be charged with mass murder in Afghanistan.
Race for Congress
Republicans believe DFL Rep. Tim Walz is vulnerable. MPR has a look at the GOP candidates who are vying to defeat him.
Tidbit: GOP state Sen. Mike Parry refuses to say whether he'll abide by the party's endorsement. Allen Quist says he will abide by the party's endorsement.
Roll Call says GOP Rep. Chip Cravaack is vulnerable but doesn't crack the Top 10 most vulnerable incumbents.
Race for President
The New York Times says the GOP candidates are preparing for a floor fight in the convention.
Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour says the prolonged primary fight is bad for the party.
Mitt Romney won Puerto Rico.
Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum are battling it out in Illinois.
The L.A. Times says several federal contractors have given to Romney's super Pac - despite a 36-year-old ban on such contributions.
Romney called for firing energy officials.
Santorum said you "can't trust" Romney.
Newt Gingrich calls on Romney to stop the negative ads.
Santorum says he regrets backing Arlen Specter.
President Obama's high-dollar donations are lagging.
Mr. Obama celebrated St. Patrick's Day with a Guinness at a pub in Washington D.C.
First Lady Michelle Obama visited Minnesota on Friday.
She also raised $90,000 at a evening fundraiser.
Former Star Tribune publisher John Cowles has died.
The Minnesota Campaign Finance Board released a report that detailed the spending on lobbying of the Minnesota Legislature and the Dayton Administration in 2011. The Board reports that $59 million was spent to influence the Legislature and the Administration.
Business groups lead the spending. Xcel Energy spent $2.3 million, the most of any organizations. The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce spent $2 million, the Minnesota Business Partnership spent $980,000. Minneapolis Radiation Oncology Physicians, a group fighting a moratorium on new radiation treatment centers in Minnesota, spent $900,000. The Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities, which represents mostly rural cities, and the Minnesota AFL-CIO, a coalition of labor unions, spent $820,000 each.
Update: An official with the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities says they made a reporting error to the Campaign Finance Board. They say they will submit an amended report that says the group spent $460,000 on lobbying in 2011.
You can read the full list here.
Democrats in the Minnesota Senate have filed an ethics complaint against Sen. Geoff Michel, R-Edina, for how he handled the affair between former Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch and Senate Republican Caucus spokesman Michael Brodkorb.
Michel was first told about the "inappropriate relationship" between Koch and Brodkorb in September and then reported it to Senate human resources . He failed to confront Koch on the matter until late November.
"Upon being made aware of an alleged inappropriate relationship between the Senate Majority Leader and a subordinate senate employee in September, 2011, Senator Michel had an obligation as Deputy Majority Leader to take appropriate action to fully and swiftly address the matter," Sen. Sandy Pappas, DFL-St. Paul, wrote in the complaint.
Pappas also said Michel brought "dishonor and disrepute" to the Senate by not taking action to fully and swiftly address the matter. Pappas said he "betrayed the public's trust by making false and clearly misleading public statements regarding when he became aware" of the relationship.
Michel initially told reporters late last year that he became aware of the relationship in early November but later admitted he found out about the affair on September 21. Koch's former chief of staff, Cullen Sheehan, told Michel about the affair at that time.
Pappas is asking the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate the details of the matter and that the hearings be open to the public.
The complaint comes less than a week after attorneys for Brodkorb announced that they intend to sue the Senate for gender discrimination. They say they will provide examples of female staffers who had affairs with male lawmakers but still kept their jobs.
Will be updated...
Here's the complaint:
Sen. Michel issued this statement:
"This is about politics and payback and has nothing to do with ethics. The DFL wants a few more headlines. The conflict of interest has been resolved. The workplace environment has improved. And, we did this while protecting whistleblowers and staff. I have asked for an immediate hearing to resolve this matter."
Gov. Mark Dayton met with three members of the Minneapolis City Council this morning to talk to them about their support for a stadium.
Dayton said Mayor R.T. Rybak, council president Barb Johnson and two other city council members attended. City officials identified them as Sandy Colvin Roy and Kevin Reich, although neither has returned a phone call to their office seeking confirmation.
"There are a couple that are carefully considering their position," Dayton said of council members.
Reich said earlier this month that he believes city's voters need to approve the proposed $975 million stadium plan in a referendum. Rybak, though, said the same day that he didn't consider Reich a "no" vote.
Colvin Roy last month cited similar reasoning in voicing her reluctance to supporting a stadium plan: that 1997 charter amendment that requires a referendum on stadium spending over $10 million.
The two are part of what are reported to be a majority "no" bloc on the council, and part of the reason Rybak has said he hasn't been able to offer tangible proof of the city's support for his stadium plan. And if Reich and Colvin Roy are in fact the swing votes on the plan, Dayton offered little indication that he'd swung them.
"Well, they're open to considering their position," Dayton said. "I don't know that either of them have taken a firm position. I don't know that for a fact one way or the other. But they both indicated they were willing to consider their position."
Dayton touched on another facet of the stadium debate as well: whether the council can vote on a stadium before the Legislature acts.
"I'm not a lawyer. Some say the council can't actually by law vote definitively until after the Legislature enacts the legislation. So I think what the Legislature's looking for is a letter, that's clear that at least a majority of the Minneapolis City Council support the project, and ultimately assuming that the terms stay relatively the same, would support it."
But Dayton also added that he still considers the stadium alive. "I'm still hopeful," he said. "We didn't get any final commitments, but we didn't ask for any final commitments, either."(5 Comments)
Eight term DFLer Bill Hilty is leaving the Minnesota House.
Hilty announced his departure in a statement this afternoon. Hilty lives in Finlayson and represents parts of Pine, Carlton, and St. Louis counties.
"It has been a privilege to be able to serve the people of our region and to work for the good of our state. I am grateful for all the friendships that have been built across Minnesota and I will continue to be a strong advocate for the critical issues facing our state," Hilty said in his statement.
Hilty is a former chair of the House Energy Committee. His district has been renumbered to 11B and will include parts of Kanabec and Pine counties.
That makes for at least nine house members who aren't running for re-election. Here's the list so far:
Rep. Connie Doepke, R-Orono (running for state Senate)
Rep. Kent Eken, DFL-Twin Valley (running for state Senate)
Rep. Lyle Koenen, DFL Clara City (running for state Senate)
Rep. Kate Knuth, DFL-New Brighton
Rep. Bev Scalze, DFL-Little Canada (running for state Senate)
Rep. Bobby Joe Champion, DFL-Minneapolis (running for state Senate)
Rep. Mindy Greiling, DFL-Roseville
Rep. Mark Buesgens, R-Jordan
Rep. Bill Hilty, DFL-Finlayson
Rep. Pat Mazorol, R-Bloomingon
Rep. John Kriesel, R-Cottage Grove
Rep. Mark Murdock, R-Perham
Rep. Kurt Bills, R-Rosemount (running for U.S. Senate)
Rep. Bruce Anderson, R-Buffalo Township (running for state Senate)
Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake (running for state Senate)
Rep. Torrey Westrom, R-Elbow Lake (running for state Senate)
Rep. Branden Peterson, R-Andover (running for state Senate)
Note: list has been updated...(1 Comments)
Posted at 5:00 PM on March 19, 2012
by Catharine Richert
Filed under: Campaign 2012
Minnesota's unions have formed We Are Minnesota, a fund meant to raise money to oppose a proposed constitutional amendment that would make union membership and the payment of union dues voluntary for all workers.
A Senate panel approved the "right-to-work" bill last week.
We are Minnesota is backed by "public and private sector workers, nurses, firefighters, police officers, teachers, construction workers, clergy, small business owners, local elected officials, students and your neighbors," according to the group's web site.
The committee was registered March 9 with the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board by the Minnesota arm of the AFL-CIO, an organization that represents labor unions.
Minnesota AFL-CIO spokesman Chris Shields would not detail We Are Minnesota's members, but said that the group will have announcements about support soon.
Shields added that fundraising hasn't started yet; the group is waiting to see if the Legislature agrees to put the amendment on the ballot this fall, he said.
If it is, Shields said cash would be spent on ads such as this one urging Minnesotans to vote against the amendment.
House Republicans are putting forward a $280 million public works bill that focuses mostly on asset preservation at the state's higher education institutions, correctional facilities and local road and bridge improvement. The proposal is less than half the size of what Gov. Dayton outlined in his bonding bill proposal.
Update: The House GOP is also moving a separate bonding bill that focuses on restoring the Capitol. The plan borrows $220 million. That bill is being heard on Tuesday.
The House GOP proposal, put forward by House Capital Investment Chair Larry Howes of Walker, dedicates $35 million in bonding for asset preservation at the University of Minnesota and $20 million for asset preservation for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. The plan also dedicates $33 million for Rural Finance Authority grants, $20 million for local bridge replacement and rehab, $10 million for local road improvement.
Dayton has been pushing for $775 million in borrowing to help boost the state's construction sector. Some Republicans have argued that the state shouldn't borrow too much in light of the recent economic downturn but Dayton compared the bonding bill to a family mortgaging a house.
Some big-ticket items have been left out of the House Republican plan. The plan does not include money for the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester, the Mankato Civic Center and upgrades to the Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter.
House Republicans also dedicate $1 million in borrowing to the St. Cloud Civic Center (Dayton proposed $10 million), $2 million for the St. Paul Saints ballpark in St. Paul (Dayton proposed $27 million) and $2 million for the State Emergency Operations Center in Arden Hills (Dayton proposed $26 million).
The House Capital Investment Committee will hold its first hearing on the bill on
Tuesday Wednesday. It may face stiff DFL opposition considering DFL House Minority Leader Paul Thissen characterized the proposal on Twitter as the "Tea Party Express strikes again." Democrats have argued for a larger bonding bill. Republicans need to garner 81 votes in the House to get the bonding bill passed since it needs a three-fifths majority to pass each chamber.
Senate Republicans have yet to release their proposal.
Here are some of the highlights of the House GOP plan:
$35 m for HEAPR at the U of M
$20 million for HEAPR at MnSCU
$13.8 million for the Ridgewater College, Willmar- Technical Instruction Lab Renovation
$33 million for Rural Finance Authority Grants
$20 million for local bridge replacement and rehab
$10 million for local road improvement
$10 million in asset preservation at Department of Corrections
$9 million for The Hormel Institute in Austin
$12 million for the St. Paul Children's Museum
$20 million for the Wastewater Infrastructure Funding program
$10 million for foreclosure remediation
Here's the full proposal:1 Comments)