Stadium supporters are rolling out poll results on the Minneapolis stadium plan later today at the State Office Building.
Home Field Advantage, the coalition of business and community leaders in Minneapolis, sponsored a phone poll of 1,000 registered Minnesota voters to gauge interest in building the Vikings a new stadium.
Wondering what the Mason-Dixon Polling & Reseach Inc. folks were asking Minnesotans about the Vikings and their prospects for replacing the Metrodome?
Well, we think we got yer polling instrument right here. Or at least one version of it. You can take it yourself and see how compatible you and your NFL companion franchise might be:1 Comments)
The Senate is set to take up a constitutional amendment to require people to present photo identification to vote.
GOP Sen. John Howe wants to broaden the Photo ID bill.
Some local elections officials are worried about the cost of the amendment.
An attempt to revive the right-to-work amendment in the House fizzled out.
Under the Dome
The House approved a bill that would speed up permitting.
Gov. Daytons budget officials are criticizing the Senate GOP's tax plan. The Tax Committee approved the measure on Thursday.
A state shutdown services bill passed the Minnesota Senate.
A legislative panel approves a bill that would remove DWI immunity for lawmakers.
A new DNR online registration system is now running again.
Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak is hoping to send a stadium signal yet this week.
The swing stadium vote on the Minneapolis City Council hasn't committed.
Minnesota added 6,000 jobs in February.
U.S. unemployment applications fell to a four-year low.
Construction in Minnesota shows signs of a turnaround.
President Obama's budget would increase taxes on 1 in 4 but the tax hikes focus mostly on the rich.
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will be in Minnesota today for the 2nd Anniversary of the health care reform law being enacted.
The Star Tribune says it's a weakened version of what DFL Rep. Tim Walz put forward.
Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales will be charged with 17 counts of murder.
An analysis says more drilling didn't drop gas prices.
A Washington D.C. based government watchdog group detailed how much members of Minnesota's delegation are paying family members.
Race for Congress
Democrat Brian McGoldrick announced he's challenging GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann.
Hotel developer Jim Graves is also thinking about running for Congress in the 6th District.
Bachmann's presidential campaign is $1 million in debt.
Race for President
South Carolina Sen. Jim Demint says he's "comfortable" with Mitt Romney being the party's nominee.3 Comments)
Posted at 7:54 AM on March 23, 2012
by Mark Zdechlik
Filed under: Michele Bachmann
Newly filed Federal Election Commission documents show Republican Michele Bachmann's presidential campaign was nearly $1.05 million in debt as of January 25, 2012. Holding the bills were numerous campaign advisers. Photographers, direct mailers, transportation companies and caterers were also owed money.
Bachmann's focus is now back on Minnesota where she's running for reelection in the 6th Congressional District. So far three Democratic challengers have emerged, two are announced candidates, a third is "exploring" a run.
Bachmann has been aggressively attempting to raise money in recent weeks, sending supporters urgent emails seeking contributions.
She has a history of strong fundraising. In her last run for the House in 2010 Bachmann took in $13.5 million.
Home Field Advantage, the coalition of labor and business groups backing a new Vikings stadium in Minneapolis, released the results today of the statewide poll it commissioned. The group asked 1,000 Minnesota voters what they thought about the ongoing stadium debate.
The top lines: 73 percent of respondents are following the issue closely (only 9 percent say they aren't following it closely); 61 percent say that they like the financing plan that involves gambling proceeds, Minneapolis hospitality taxes and the Vikings contribution; 72 percent say it's somewhat or very important that the team stay in Minnesota.
You can read the full results, including breakouts for Duluth and Rochester here.
The poll was conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research Inc, and had a published margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 percent. It was sponsored by Home Field Advantage, a coalition of stadium supporters created by the Minneapolis Downtown Council, the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce and Meet Minneapolis, the city's convention and visitors authority.
Interestingly, the results from Home Field Advantage don't entirely reflect the "survey instrument" that seems to have originated the poll. That one has more questions, and they're the really interesting ones. You can read the survey questions here.
Specifically, the survey asked who'd be held responsible if the Vikings didn't get a new stadium and left. The list:
Did not respond and none of the above were options, but not listed.
But that ranking gets right to the heart of stadium politics right now. Downtown Council Chairman Sam Grabarski declined to disclose the results. When asked, he said:
"If you want to know what the public at large is thinking, remember most are watching this carefully. Most want to keep the Vikings in Minnesota, and most are supporting the plan that's on the table. And so the answers were they're holding us all responsible, literally. Everybody was mentioned. And particular, the public gets its information from news sources such as yours, and so they're very focused on the Legislature, the governor, the Vikings, to get the job done. But in point of fact, we were all mentioned. It should come as no surprise, that between the Vikings and the Legislature, they want those parties to get the job done."
That may be true, but it looks like Mason-Dixon did ask the question, and the company is usually more definite than "coming as no surprise." Asked specifically about the options offered to survey respondents, Grabarski again demurred about how the parties involved might rank in the blame game.
"Nearly half of the respondents are focused on the fact that the Legislature has another month to get this job done. So nearly half of the respondents, if they mentioned, they mentioned the Legislature. But remember, everybody was mentioned."(2 Comments)
WASHINGTON - Hockey is Minnesota's official state sport, so it's only appropriate that DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar use an NHL hockey game to add to her campaign coffers.
According to an invitation first reported by Politico, Klobuchar is attending a fundraiser in her honor at this Sunday's match between the Minnesota Wild and the Washington Capitals at Washington's Verizon Center. The event is hosted by the political action committee of the National Association of Broadcasters.
Tickets start at $500 a person. For those uninterested in politics or broadcasting policy, seats start at $55 a head.
Klobuchar apparently enjoys unconventional fundraisers. Last year, she held another event at the Verizon Center to see a production of "Glee!".
In a recent opinion piece, Pete Hegseth, one of Sen. Amy Klobuchar's potential opponents this fall, wrote that an excise tax in the new health care law will have a significant impact on Minnesota's small and mid-sized medical device companies.
Hegseth wrote Klobuchar should not have voted for the health care overhaul as a result.
"If the tax is allowed to take effect, nonpartisan experts expect major job reductions, with more than 2,700 med-tech jobs lost in Minnesota alone. The 83,000 Minnesotans employed as an indirect result of the industry will also be holding their breath," Hegseth wrote in his March 22, 2012, op-ed.
Health economists say the device industry will feel the impact of the new tax, but are skeptical it will lead to dramatic job losses.
Starting in 2013, the excise tax will apply to the sale of taxable medical devices by the manufacturer or importer of the device. It won't apply to eyeglasses, contact lenses, hearing aids or any other devices that people typically buy at retail, according to the Internal Revenue Service's proposed rule on the tax.
The tax is expected to generate between $20 and $30 billion over 10 years, and is meant to help pay for other parts of the new law. The medical device industry believes the tax will inevitably be passed on to consumers, who will then use fewer of their products. Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen is leading an effort in the U.S. House to repeal the tax.
When the health care bill was first debated in 2009, Klobuchar opposed a higher device tax, and worked to reduce it. Klobuchar also co-chair of the Medical Device Caucus. But she has so far not signed on to bills in the Senate that would repeal the tax.
Hegseth relied on two reports to support his claim, both commissioned by AdvaMed, the medical device lobby; one report was written by two economists who have ties to conservative think-tanks including the American Enterprise Institute, the Hudson Institute and the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research.
According to those reports, Minnesota employs roughly 27,000 people in the medical device field, but the new tax would cut the workforce by 2,700 people, in part by moving jobs overseas.
In February, the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities issued a rebuke of the AdvaMed-commissioned research. Economist Paul N. Van de Water wrote that U.S. device exports are exempt from the tax, and it will apply to devices locally and imported from overseas creating no incentive for manufacturers to move jobs overseas.
The new health care law is designed to increase demand for drugs and devices because it requires everyone to have insurance, said Gerald F. Kominski, a health care economist at UCLA and director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. In theory, what the industry pays in taxes will be offset by more people buying coverage.
But Kominski agreed that there's room for debate on whether the additional demand will be exactly offset by the tax.
Roger Feldman, a health economist at the University of Minnesota who consults for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Congressional Budget Office, agrees.
But he also pointed out that most medical devices are implanted as part of a hospital stay, so they would be covered by insurance, which doesn't typically respond much to price changes.
For the Minnesota medical device industry to lose 10 percent of its workforce, let alone all the workers associated with the industry as Hegseth's claim implies, "demand for medical devices would have to be hugely, hugely more responsive to prices than demand for medical care over all," Feldman said.
Thrivent Financial health care analyst David Heupel said the tax is likely to hit smaller, less profitable companies.
"If you're not that profitable, it will have a more meaningful hit to you than it would to a Medtronic," he said. "But what that means to job cuts is anyone's guess."
Hegseth relied on two studies commissioned by the medical device industry, which opposes the device tax, to support his claim.
Still, PoliGraph couldn't find extensive research to demonstrate that the medical device industry won't be affected by the new tax. And while health care economists are skeptical that the Minnesota device makers would lose a full 10 percent of its workforce, they agree that reasonable minds can argue about exact impact of the new tax on the industry.
Because of the lack of evidence about exactly what impact the medical device tax will have on employers, PoliGraph can only give Hegseth's claim an inconclusive verdict.
Pioneer Press, Pete Hegseth: Medical device tax will hit small and mid-size companies hard, March 21, 2012
Internal Revenue Service, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: Taxable Medical Devices, Feb. 7, 2012.
White House, Office of Management and Budget, Fiscal Year 2013: Analytical Perspectives, accessed March 22, 2012
The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, Excise Tax on Medical Devices Should Not Be Repealed:Industry Lobbyists Distort, Overstate Tax's Impact, By Paul N. Van de Water, Feb. 14, 2012
The State Economic Impact of Medical Technology Industry, June 7, 2010
Employment Effects of the New Excise Tax on the Medical Device Industry, by Diana Furchtgott-Roth and Harold Furchtgott-Roth, September 2011
Minnesota Public Radio News, Paulsen: Congress to take up medical device tax repeal, by Brett Neely, Jan. 26, 2012
The Star Tribune, Klobuchar, Franken oppose device-firm tax, by Janet Moore, Sept. 16, 2009
Interview, Gerald F. Kominski, Director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, March 22, 2012
Interview, Roger Feldman, professor, University of Minnesota, March 22, 2012(2 Comments)
The Minnesota Senate is expected to vote sometime today on a constitutional amendment that would require people to present photo identification to vote. The measure, which has already passed the House, has drawn significant protest from labor unions, DFL leaning groups and others.
Before the Senate went into session, about 300 people held a silent protest outsie the Senate gallery. Some held signs saying "All of our voices count." Others had $1 bills taped over their mouths to signify that their voices were being drawn out by corporate interests.
Supporters of the amendment argue that requiring photo identification at the polls will ensure that elections are legitimate.
The measure that passed out the Senate Rules Committee is slightly different than the House ballot question. If the Senate passes legislation that is different, a joint House/Senate conference committee would likely have to reconcile the differences.
Gov. Dayton cannot veto a constitutional amendment, so the question will be put on the November ballot if it passes the House and Senate.
The Senate went into session but recessed so the Senate DFL and GOP caucuses can discuss the proposal in private.
Will be updated....
The Senate passed the amendment 36-30. Republican Jeremy Miller of Winona joined every DFLer in voting against the amendment. Every other Republican voted for it.
The Senate Ethics Committee was scheduled to meet after the Senate floor session late Friday night but the meeting was abruptly canceled by Ethics Committee Chair Michelle Fischbach. Fischbach, a Republican from Paynesville, issued a statement saying she was not going to reconvene the hearing that focused on an ethics complaint against Sen. Geoff Michel, R-Edina.
"At this time, I do not intend to reconvene the Senate Subcommittee on Ethical Conduct tonight," Fischbach said in a statement. "It is under advice of counsel that we give them an opportunity to further consider the matter before proceeding with additional committee discussion."
Fischbach's statement said she will "honor Senate rules that state action must be taken within 30 days of receiving the complaint." Her action surprised the two DFL members of the Ethics Committee, Sen. Kathy Sheran, DFL-Mankato, and Sen. John Harrington, DFL-St. Paul.
Sheran and Harrington waited for an hour for an explanation as to why the committee wasn't meeting, as planned. Sheran said she's disappointed Fischbach canceled the meeting, which she said Fischbach didn't have the authority to do.
"She wants to set the agenda by herself and she wants to control the outcome," Sheran said.
The Ethics Committee, made up of two Republicans and two DFLers, was deadlocked on how to handle a complaint against Sen. Michel.
The complaint against Michel centers around whether he lied about when he knew about an affair between former Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch and former Senate Republican Caucus spokesman Michael Brodkorb. The complaint also alleged Michel should have acted more quickly when he learned of the affair. Michel says he has done nothing wrong.
Part of the reason the Ethics Committee is deadlocked is that members are reluctant to discuss issues involving Brodkorb. The Senate fired Brodkorb one day after Koch resigned her leadership position. Brodkorb has said he's going to file a gender discrimination suit against the Senate because he argues female staffers who had affairs with male lawmakers did not lose their jobs.
Senate officials say Brodkorb was not fired because he had an affair with Koch but because the will was no longer there to employ the at-will employee.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem acknowledged that there appears to be some concern that the Ethics Committee could be opening itself up to additional litigation.
"Part of it (the hearing delay) is how much can be said at this hearing that could affect the other hearing (lawsuit)," Senjem said. "That's a bit of a concern."
Senjem declined comment when asked whether the Senate's outside counsel expressed concerns that the hearing could open the Senate up to additional litigation.