Posted at 6:30 AM on April 26, 2012
by Catharine Richert
Filed under: Daily Digest
Welcome to the Daily Digest, where the Vikings stadium moves through the Senate, lawmakers look for a path to finish the session, and shareholders of some Minnesota companies ask for more political spending disclosure.
Legislators are looking for a path to finish the session.
MPR looks at whether rank-and-file lawmakers will support the stadium bill.
The Senate finance committee approved the bill and added a plan to legalize slot machines at horse tracks as a backup financing mechanism.
The stadium bill will make make a stop in the Tax Committee.
A bill that would allow more powerful backyard fireworks is headed to Gov. Mark Dayton desk.
Money and Politics
This spring, shareholders of five Minnesota companies will weigh resolutions that require firms to say more about their political spending.
The House will vote on a student loan interest rate extension Friday.
Minnesota Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson was on Capitol Hill, defending the state's Medicaid program.
Rep. Michele Bachmann testified, too.
The PoliGraph says Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod's claim about a small business tax bill is nearly correct.
The Supreme Court justices don't appear interested in striking down a controversial part of the Arizona immigration law.
The U.S. Senate approved major reforms to the U.S. Postal Service, which would permit the end of Saturday service, the Washington Post reports.
The bill includes an amendment by Sen. Al Franken that gives communities the opportunity to fight to prevent closure of their local post offices.
U.S. House Blue Dog Democrats - the more moderate branch of the party - are a dying breed.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said a scandal involving members of the Secret Service and Colombian prostitutes is "inexcusable."
The Presidential Race
Newt Gingrich will end his campaign next week, and endorse Mitt Romney.
Here's why Gingrich's campaign fizzled, per the Washington Post.
The Washington Post also reports that Romney's new adviser is getting heat for his tweets and his sexual orientation.
Politico profiles possible vice presidential candidate Rob Portman.
Between now and next month's Republican statewide nominating convention, expect Senate hopeful Pete Hegseth to distinguish himself from the competition by linking his rival, Kurt Bills, to presidential candidate Ron Paul.
Paul's message "is not one that's going to win the general election, and it's not one that's in line with Republicans and Minnesotans at large," said Hegseth's spokesman Kyler Nerison.
Bills endorsed Paul for president, and Paul has endorsed Bills, a member of the Minnesota House, in his effort to win the GOP nomination to run against DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
Nerison said the campaign's goal is to make sure delegates at the convention are well aware of the Bills' association with Paul, who supports ending the Federal Reserve, pulling American troops out of Afghanistan, and other libertarian ideas controversial in some Republican circles.
Paul's supporters are expected to make a strong showing at this year's statewide convention. His Minnesota campaign manager told MPR that Paul won 20 of the 24 national delegates elected at Republican district conventions.
Nevertheless, Nerison said that Hegseth still plans to drop his Senate bid if he's not endorsed by the party.
The chair of the Senate Tax Committee has not scheduled a hearing on the Vikings stadium issue. Sen. Julianne Ortman,R-Chanhassen, said yesterday that she wanted to hold a hearing in her committee on the bill.
Ortman, who said she's not a "big fan of stadiums", hasn't scheduled a hearing on the bill yet. She told reporters that she's unlikely to hold a hearing on the stadium until Republicans reach a deal with Governor Dayton on an overall tax bill.
"I wouldn't call it hostage taking but you know we post hearings when we're ready to have the hearings," Ortman said. "We have staff that are working really hard on putting together an omnibus tax bill and arranging for conference committees and we can only do so much at any time so that's what we're working on right now."
The Senate Tax Committee will be the last stop for the bill before it heads to the Senate floor for a vote. The House is set to vote on the bill, but Republican Speaker Kurt Zellers wouldn't say when the vote will happen.
Update: Ortman scheduled a Friday hearing at 3pm on the stadium bill.
WASHINGTON - A debt collection company accused of gathering too much sensitive patient information from Minnesota hospitals will be investigated by U.S. Sen. Al Franken.
Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson released the results of a months-long investigation of Accretive Health on Tuesday, alleging that the company violated federal and state privacy, consumer debt and fraud laws through its business practices. Some of the practices described in her report included company representatives attempting to collect payment from patients before admitting them to hospital emergency rooms and improperly using patient medical records in the debt collection process.
"If these allegations are true--and I do want to hear all sides of this story--they would be an affront to the health, privacy, and dignity of Minnesotans," said Franken in a news release today.
Franken, a Democrat, chairs a Senate subcommittee on privacy and also sits on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.(2 Comments)
The Minnesota House passed a bill that would allow local school districts to fire teachers on performance instead of seniority. The House took the action even though Governor Dayton has suggested that he'll veto it. Supporters of the measure say it's needed to ensure the best teachers stay in the classroom.
Rep. Brandon Petersen, R-Andover, said Governor Dayton and others were defending the state's teacher's unions. He suggested they're on the wrong side of public opinion.
"You're standing against an overwhelming tide of change and all you're doing is placing your fingers into the dam," Petersen said. "But it will crack in another place and it will come through because the taxpayers will demand accountability for the largest investment in this country and they're demanding accountability for their kids."
Current law says schools must only consider teacher seniority when making layoffs unless local districts negotiate other policies.
Critics say the performance measurements in the bill are new and too subjective.
Rep. Jim Davnie, R-Minneapolis, said the bill had problems because it focuses solely on teacher performance.
"This bill allows weak administrators with unknown qualifications to keep their jobs and make the decisions as to which teachers get laid off," Davnie said.
The Senate is expected to pass the bill and send it to Governor Dayton. Dayton has suggested that he will veto the bill.