Welcome to the Daily Digest, where the House approved the Vikings conference committee report, the Senate sends a smaller tax bill to Dayton, and Obama comes out in favor of same sex marriage.
At the Capitol
Only a state Senate vote, the governor's signature and approval from the Minneapolis City Council stands between the Vikings and a $975 million stadium, MPR's Tim Nelson reports.
The House passed the stadium conference report early Thursday by a 71-60 vote.
The conference committee report asks the Vikings to spend $477 million, $50 million more than the $427 million the Vikings initially committed.
Lawmakers worked behind closed doors to resolve differences between the House and Senate Vikings stadium bills.
Here's who voted for and against the bill.
St. Paul DFLers voted for the bill to get something for their city.
The Minnesota Senate approved a tax bill smaller and less expensive than one Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed earlier.
PoliGraph says a claim that the Metrodome was a good deal is correct.
Here's a list of retiring lawmakers.
Ron Paul will address Republicans at the state's convention next week.
The Washington Post looks at what Paul is up to by staying in the race with so few delegates.
"In Nevada, Maine, Massachusetts and elsewhere, his supporters have flooded the party's snoozy state conventions -- and then elected themselves to delegate slots... With these numbers, the perennial outsider could gain the leverage to demand a speaking slot, or changes to the party platform" at the Republican convention in August.
The Chamber of Commerce is running an ad in support of Rep. Chip Cravaack in the 8th Congressional District.
3M rejected proposals regarding the company's political spending and lobbying.
President Barack Obama says that he supports same-sex marriage.
He's the first president to support the idea.
The annoncement comes after Vice President Joe Biden said last week he supports same-sex marraige, and a day after North Carolina voters approved a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.
Some of Obama's key donors are gay, the Washington Post reports.
DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar introduced a bill that would ban companies from asking current or future employees for their passwords to social networking sites.
The Postal Service is scaling back plans to close some post offices.
Conservative columnist George Will writes about the medical device tax.
The federal government is proposing a temporary increase in Medicaid payment rates for primary care doctors in Minnesota and nationwide.
Tim Pawlenty closed his Freedom First PAC.(1 Comments)
The Minnesota Vikings are just a step away from getting a new $975 million stadium in downtown Minneapolis. The Minnesota House of Representatives passed a stadium conference committee report this morning that would finance the new stadium.
The move comes after the Dayton Adminstration and lawmakers from both political parties held a series of closed door meetings to discuss the particulars of the final product. The plan increases the team's contribution to $477 million. The state of Minnesota would spend $348 million on the new stadium. The city of Minneapolis would spend $150 million.
Vikings fans, lobbyists and supportive lawmakers cheered and shook hands after the House passed the measure 71-60. 38 Democrats joined 33 Republicans to vote for the bill. Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, said he's pleased that his seven year effort to get the Vikings stadium is coming to a close.
"We knew this was going to be a real challenge and it was," Lanning said. "But anybody who follows my career knows I have a lot of patience and perserverence."
Several critics of the bill said they were concerned about the use of public money for a profitable franchise. Others worried that the expansion of electronic pull-tabs would not produce the expected revenue to finance the stadium and the team should have kicked in more cash.
"We're growing government here and we're doing it in a very bizarre way," Rep. Doug Wardlow, R-Eagan, said. "We're funding handouts to millionaires and billionaires by taking away from those who can least afford it."
The Senate is expected to take up the conference committee later today. If that body passes the measure, it would head to Governor Dayton for his signature.
Here's the vote breakdown (provided by the Associate Press):
DEMOCRATS VOTING YES
Anzelc (Balsam Twp); Atkins (Inver Grove Heights); Benson, J. (Minnetonka); Brynaert (Mankato); Champion (Minneapolis); Dill (Crane Lake); Dittrich (Champlin); Eken (Twin Valley); Fritz (Faribault); Gauthier (Duluth); Hilstrom (Brooklyn Center); Hortman (Brooklyn Park); Hosch (St. Joseph); Johnson (St. Paul); Kath (Owatonna); Knuth (New Brighton); Lesch (St. Paul); Lillie (North St. Paul); Mahoney (St. Paul); Mariani (St. Paul); Marquart (Dilworth); Melin (Hibbing); Moran (St. Paul); Morrow (St. Peter); Murphy, M. (Hermantown); Nelson (Brooklyn Park); Norton (Rochester); Pelowski (Winona); Persell (Bemidji); Poppe (Austin); Rukavina (Virginia); Simon (St. Louis Park); Slawik (Maplewood); Slocum (Richfield); Thissen (Minneapolis); Tillberry (Fridley); Ward (Brainerd); Winkler (Golden Valley)
DEMOCRATS VOTING NO
Allen (Minneapolis); Carlson (Crystal); Clark (Minneapolis); Davnie (Minneapolis); Falk (Murdock); Greene (Minneapolis); Greiling (Roseville); Hansen (South St. Paul); Hausman (St. Paul); Hilty (Finlayson); Hornstein (Minneapolis); Kahn (Minneapolis); Laine (Columbia Heights); Lenczewski (Bloomington); Liebling (Rochester); Loeffler (Minneapolis); Mullery (Minneapolis); Murphy, E. (St. Paul); Paymar (St. Paul); Scalze (Little Canada); Wagenius (Minneapolis)
DEMOCRATS NOT VOTING
Huntley (Duluth); Peterson (New Hope)
REPUBLICANS VOTING YES
Abeler (Anoka); Anderson, P. (Starbuck); Beard (Shakopee); Cornish (Vernon Center); Davids (Preston); Doepke (Orono); Fabian (Roseau); Garofalo (Farmington); Gottwalt (St. Cloud); Gunther (Fairmont); Hamilton (Mountain Lake); Hoppe (Chaska); Howes (Walker); Kelly (Red Wing); Kiel (Crookston); Kriesel (Cottage Grove); Lanning (Moorhead); LeMieur (Little Falls); McFarlane (White Bear Lake); McNamara (Hastings); Murdock (Ottertail); Murray (Albert Lea); Nornes (Fergus Falls); O'Driscoll (Sartell); Sanders (Blaine); Schomacker (Luverne); Shimanski (Silver Lake); Smith (Mound); Torkelson (Nelson Twp); Urdahl (Grove City); Vogel (Willmar); Westrom (Elbow Lake); Woodard (Belle Plaine)
REPUBLICANS VOTING NO
Anderson, B. (Buffalo Twp); Anderson, D. (Eagan); Anderson, S. (Plymouth); Banaian (St. Cloud); Barrett (Lindstrom); Benson, M. (Rochester); Bills (Rosemount); Buesgens (Savage); Crawford (Mora); Daudt (Crown); Dean (Dellwood); Dettmer (Forest Lake); Downey (Edina); Drazkowski (Mazeppa); Erickson (Princeton); Franson (Alexandria); Gruenhagen (Glencoe); Hackbarth (Cedar); Hancock (Bemidji); Holberg (Lakeville); Kieffer (Woodbury); Kiffmeyer (Big Lake); Leidiger (Mayer); Lohmer (Lake Elmo); Loon (Eden Prairie); Mack (Apple Valley); Mazorol (Bloomington); McDonald (Delano); McElfatrick (Deer River); Myhra (Burnsville); Peppin (Rogers); Petersen (Andover); Quam (Byron); Runbeck (Circle Pines); Scott (Andover); Stensrud (Eden Prairie); Swedzinski (Ghent); Wardlow (Eagan); Zellers (Maple Grove)
Several members of the Minnesota House gave their farewell speeches earlier this morning. Some of the members served only 1 term. Others served for two decades.
Here's the list (in order of speeches):
Rep. Marion Greene, DFL-Minneapolis
Rep. Bobby Joe Champion, DFL-Minneapolis (running for Minnesota Senate)
Rep. John Kriesel, R-Cottage Grove
Rep. Kate Knuth, DFL-New Brighton
Rep. Mike LeMieur, R-Little Falls
Rep. Denise Dittrich, DFL-Champlin
Rep. Pat Mazorol, R-Bloomington
Rep. Larry Hosch, DFL-St. Joseph
Rep. Connie Doepke, R-Orono (running for Minnesota Senate)
Rep. Bev Scalze, DFL-Little Canada (running for Minnesota Senate)
Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake (running for Minnesota Senate)
Rep. Kent Eken, DFL-Twin Valley (running for Minnesota Senate)
Rep. Nora Slawik, DFL-Maplewood
Rep. Ron Shimanski, R-Silver Lake
Rep. Bill Hilty, DFL-Finlayson
Rep. Torrey Westrom, R-Elbow Lake (running for Minnesota Senate)
Rep. Mindy Greiling, DFL-Roseville
House members who didn't give retirement speeches but have said they're retiring:
Rep. Kurt Bills, R-Rosemount (running for the U.S. Senate)
Rep. Brandon Peterson, R-Andover (running for Minnesota Senate)
Rep. Keith Downey, R-Edina (running for Minnesota Senate)
Rep. Mark Murdock, R-Perham
Rep. Mark Buesgens, R-Jordan
Rep. Bruce Anderson, R-Buffalo Township (running for Minnesota Senate)
Update: I'm told Rep. Murdock was going to speak but had major shoulder surgery last week. He was in the chamber for the stadium vote but I'm told he was in a lot of pain so left before he could give his retirement speech.
There are also two members who lost endorsement battles who haven't said whether they'll run in a primary
DFL Rep. Tom Tilberry, DFL-Fridley
GOP Rep. Carol McFarlane, R-White Bear Lake
Posted at 10:59 AM on May 10, 2012
by Catharine Richert
Filed under: State Government
Associate Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Helen M. Meyer will leave her post, effective Aug. 10.
"Over my 10 years as a member of the Supreme Court and 20 years as a trial lawyer, I have developed a great respect for the people who work in the Judicial Branch," Meyer wrote in her letter to Gov. Mark Dayton announcing her decision to leave the court. "At a time when the public's trust and confidence in all institutions is shaken, the court system in Minnesota stands as a beacon of hope to our citizens."
Meyer did not give a reason for her departure in a press release posted on the Supreme Court's website, saying only that she will miss her colleagues and is looking forward to "returning to the life of a private citizen."
Peter Knapp, a law professor from William Mitchell College of Law who reviews Supreme Court decisions, said Meyer was a strong voice for the interests of children and victims of domestic violence during her 10 years on the Court.
"I think her opinions reflect a genuine compassion for human issues in the law and I think one of the principle parts of her legacy will be that compassion," Knapp said.
Knapp said unlike the U.S. Supreme Court, justices on Minnesota's highest bench don't stay on for life.
"Ten years is a long time to serve as a justice and it's not a surprise that someone would decide that's a fair amount of your life to give to that public service," Knapp said.
Meyer has served since 2002, when she was appointed to the bench by Gov. Jesse Ventura, and was elected to six-year terms in 2004 and 2010. Prior to her appointment, Meyer worked for 20 years as a civil litigator and mediator.
The vacancy would give Dayton his first chance to appoint someone to the Supreme Court.
Governor Mark Dayton released the following statement regarding Meyer's announcement:
"Associate Justice Meyer has provided outstanding service to the people of Minnesota over the last decade; I thank her for her service, and wish her the very best in her future endeavors."
Dayton will be asking the Minnesota Commission on Judicial Selection to assist in soliciting candidates, evaluating applicants and recommending a nominee to replace Meyer.
Sasha Aslanian contributed to this report.
For the second time in two weeks, Senate Republicans scheduled a confirmation hearing for Minnesota Department of Health Health Commissioner Ed Ehlinger and then abruptly canceled it.
The chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, Sen. David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, announced late Wednesday that there would be a hearing at 9:00 this morning. Ehlinger was there, along with DFL members of the committee. GOP members never showed up, and a staffer announced the meeting's cancellation about an hour later.
Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, later explained the change of plans.
"It was just a matter of whether or not we wanted to bring up commissioners before we go, and we decided, frankly, not to," Senjem said.
The same committee postponed a confirmation hearing for Ehlinger two weeks ago, following a private meeting between Hann and DFL Gov. Mark Dayton.
Earlier this year, Senate Republicans ousted Ellen Anderson, who was Dayton's choice to lead the Public Utilities Commission. At the time, GOP leaders said they had two other Dayton appointees, Ehlinger and PCA Commissioner Paul Aasen, on their watch list. Aasen recently resigned to take another job.
Sen. Kathy Sheran, DFL-Mankato, was not pleased with today's developments. She accused GOP leaders wasting the time of everyone who showed up for a meeting that never happened.
"I think it's irresponsible, and it's happened many times this session unnecessarily," Sheran said.
Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann is no longer interested in having dual US-Swiss citizenship.
Two days after a Swiss TV news crew broke the story that Bachmann sought in February to have her Swiss citizenship registered by Swiss authorities, Bachmann issued the following statement:
"Today I sent a letter to the Swiss Consulate requesting withdrawal of my dual Swiss citizenship, which was conferred upon me by operation of Swiss law when I married my husband in 1978."
"I took this action because I want to make it perfectly clear: I was born in America and I am a proud American citizen. I am, and always have been, 100 percent committed to our United States Constitution and the United States of America. As the daughter of an Air Force veteran, stepdaughter of an Army veteran and sister of a Navy veteran, I am proud of my allegiance to the greatest nation the world has ever known."
Yesterday Bachmann's DFL challenger Jim Graves called news that Bachmann had sought to register her Swiss citizen a "distraction." Graves also noted in a news release that he and his family were "proud to be Americans."
Minutes after the gavel went down on the end of the 2012 legislative session, the Alliance for a Better Minnesota went live with a new website that will serve as a landing pad for the liberal group's campaign for Democrats to take back the Legislature.
"A Better Legislature" is "an online and paid media campaign to hold legislators accountable for their misplaced priorities and to make the public aware of the negative impacts of Republican leadership on Minnesota," a press release on the new website states.
The campaign will highlight homes and schools, the website says - two issues that the Republican-controlled Legislature has "consistently ignored" by "increasing property taxes on middle-class families and borrowing billions of dollars from Minnesota's schools."
If this video is any indication, "A Better Legislature" provides an peek at what ABM's strategy will be over the next few months: hammer the GOP for last year's government shutdown, two constitutional amendments that will be on the ballot this fall, and former Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch's affair with former staffer Michael Brodkorb.
With financial assistance from a handful of wealthy donors, including members of Gov. Mark Dayton's family, unions and other interest groups, ABM poured all its resources into electing Dayton in 2010.
But Democrats lost control of the Legislature that year, and ABM leaders have said they plan to make winning seats for DFLers their priority in 2012.
There are several members of the Minnesota Senate who gave retirement speeches today. Some served just months (Mary Jo McGuire) while others served decades (Keith Langseth and Gen Olson)
Here's the list (in order of speeches):
Sen. Keith Langseth, DFL-Glyndon
Sen. Mary Jo McGuire, DFL-Falcon Heights
Sen. Gretchen Hoffman, R-Vergas
Sen. Doug Magnus, R-Slayton
Sen. Mike Parry, R-Waseca (Running for Congress)
Sen. Ken Kelash, DFL-Minneapolis
Sen. Amy Koch, R-Buffalo
Sen. Chris Gerlach, R-Apple Valley
Sen. Michael Jungbauer, R-East Bethel
Sen. Geoff Michel, R-Edina
Sen. Linda Higgins, DFL-Minneapolis
Sen. Claire Robling, R-Jordan
Sen. Gen Olson, R-Minnetrista
There is one member who didn't announce his intentions.
Sen. Al DeKruif, R-Madison Lake, said he wouldn't run for reelection after being paired with Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont. He has said he's reconsidering.
The list means there are at least 36 members of the Legislature who are retiring this year. Read the House list here.
A few more may decide before the filing date to not run again. The voters may decide that others shouldn't return.
Sen. DeKruif said he has not yet decided whether he will retire or challenge Sen. Rosen.
"I'm going to take a few days and give that some thought, talk with my family and then make a decision," he said. "I'm not ready right now to say."
Meanwhile, Rosen said she wants to serve one more term in the Senate.
"I'm ready to run again, absolutely," Rosen said.(1 Comments)
Posted at 11:16 PM on May 10, 2012
by Tom Scheck
Filed under: Daily Digest
The Vikings stadium bill is now in the hands of Gov. Dayton and the Minneapolis City Council. Dayton held an evening presser with the stadium supporters and Vikings owner Zygi Wilf.
AP says Vikings owner Zygi Wilf's patience paid off.
The Minneapolis City Council appears ready to approve the bill in a few weeks.
The news comes after the Minnesota Senate passed the stadium conference committee report on Thursday.
The city of St. Paul intends to use its portion from the stadium bill to pay off its RiverCentre debt.
The Senate adjourned Sine Die, finishing a rocky session.
2012 Legislative Session
The battle to define the legislative session will continue today. GOP House Speaker Kurt Zellers is holding a media avail this morning to discuss the session. Gov. Dayton has a presser in the afternoon.
MPR recaps the year's highlights and says there is a dispute over what was accomplished and who's responsible.
13 members of the Minnesota Senate delivered retirement speeches on Thursday.
Republican lawmakers called and then canceled a confirmation hearing for Health Commissioner Ed Ehlinger.
Dayton signed a bill on newborn blood screenings.
Gov. Dayton will get his first chance to appoint someone to the Minnesota Supreme Court. Justice Helen Meyer is retiring.
Gov. Dayton attends the annual Fishing opener today in Waconia. He intends to drop his first line at midnight. Saturday's fishing event appears to be a bipartisan affair. GOP House Speaker Kurt Zellers, GOP House Majority Leader Matt Dean. Rep. Joe Hoppe, R-Chaska, Rep. Ernie Leidiger, R-Mayer, Rep. Deb Hilstrom, DFL-Brooklyn Center, have all registered to attend the opener and fish. GOP Rep. John Kline is also expected to attend.
DNR officials expect a "pretty darn normal opener."
The U.S. records its first monthly budget surplus since 2008.
JP Morgan Chase lost $2 billion as a unit had a difficult time managing risks.
GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann moves to withdraw her Swiss citizenship.
DFL Rep. Keith Ellison unveils a bill to end fossil fuel subsidies.
Accretive Health's CEO intends to fully comply with DFL Sen. Al Franken's request for further information about the company's debt collection practices.
Franken also pressed the Justice Department to explain phone-tracking practices.
The House voted to replace mandated cuts to the Pentagon that were negotiated in the debt deal.
Senate Democrats leaped into the debate over gay rights.
Race for the Legislature
The Alliance for a Better Minnesota, which works to elect DFL candidates, has launched a campaign to help Democrats win back control of the Legislature.
Race for Congress
GOP Rep. Chip Cravaack called global warming "bunk."
Race for President
President Obama characterized Mitt Romney's comments on the auto industry as an "etch-an-sketch moment."
Mitt Romney apologizes after reports of bullying as a teen.
President Obama's campaign pushes the issue of gay marriage.
Vice President Joe Biden apologized to President Obama for his comments on same-sex marriage on NBC's Meet the Press.
Romney will use his commencement address at Liberty University to appeal to evangelical Christians.
Romney is also trying to shift the focus of the campaign from gay rights to the economy.
Mr. Obama attended a fundraiser at the home of George Clooney. The event is expected to bring in $15 million.
There won't be a Digest next week. We'll still be posting blog entries but the grind of the legislative session has prompted us to take a much needed break.