Posted at 6:30 AM on August 1, 2012
by Tom Scheck
Filed under: Daily Digest
The Minnesota Supreme Court has to decide a case involving the titles of the proposed constitutional amendments. The issue could create headaches for the court regardless of its decision.
Meanwhile, a church in Minneapols has rescinded an invitation for Secretary of State Mark Ritchie to speak at a Minneapolis church after consultation with the Minneapolis Archdiocese. (Note: An earlier version of this report incorrectly said the archdiocese rescinded the invitation.)
Under the Dome
Gov. Dayton is scheduled to meet today with GOP Sen. Michelle Fischbach and GOP Rep. Tim O'Driscoll to discuss Verso Paper Mill recovery. Dayton's spokeswoman says they're still waiting to hear from company about future plans.
The latest test scores have been released. There has been little change in the results. The state's achievement gap remains.
Today is the 5th Anniversary of the I-35W bridge collapse. MPR reports that the state is still fixing and addressing bridge problems.
Dayton appointed five people to MnSCU's Board. The list includes former DFL House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher.
The New Ulm Journal says taxpayer funds may be going towards phones and mobile devices being used in political campaigns due to how the Legislature reimburses its communication expenses.
The White House and Congress appear to be willing to let the payroll tax cut expire quietly.
A regulator says no to President Obama's mortgage write-down plan.
Republicans allege the Obama White House isn't as transparent as it claims.\
GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann says she wants to work with DFL Rep. Keith Ellison on Medicaid fraud.
Race for Legislature
The Legislative caucuses reported their fundraising figures. Senate Democrats raised the most this year.
The Minnesota DFL Party leads the fundraising race. The DFL Party raised $2.2 million from individuals and groups. The MNGOP, which has been plagued with financial troubles, raised $99,240.
Race for Congress
GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann raised $1 million in July.
Gov. Dayton is backing Rick Nolan in Minnesota's 8th Congressional District.
Nolan also released an ad supporting his candidacy.
Race for President
President Obama will campaign in Ohio.
Mitt Romney is planning a swing state push.
On Tuesday, he praised the Polish spirit during his visit to that country.
One of his aides didn't praise Romney's travelling press corps. The aide told reporters to "shove it" for shouting questions at Romney. The traveling press corps got to ask three questions during Romney's entire trip.
Romney also defended his culture remark which drew Palestinian ire.
President Obama's aides jumped on Romney's overseas gaffes saying Romney struck out playing tee-ball.
President Obama is trying to paint Romney as an outsourcer.
Reuters reports that Super PAC donor Sheldon Adelson, who is backing Romey, is being investigated by the Macau government for illegal conduct.
Gov. Mark Dayton's former DFL opponent is hosting a fundraiser for him. Former Minnesota House Minority Leader Matt Entenza is scheduled to headline a St. Paul fundraiser for Dayton on Monday night.
Dayton defeated Entenza and former state House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher in the 2010 DFL Primary. He has, however, signaled a willingness to work with both of them since he was elected governor. Dayton recently appointed Kelliher to the MnSCU Board of Trustees. Dayton also appointed Entenza to serve on the Minnesota Sunset Commission, a group that examines government agencies and determines whether they should continue operating.
WASHINGTON - Members of Minnesota's congressional delegation are going straight to President Obama in their attempt to get assistance for individuals who lost property during severe floods this past June in northeastern Minnesota.
Last week, the Federal Emergency Management Agency turned down Minnesota's request for disaster aid for individuals although state and local governments are eligible for federal aid to repair washed out roads and other facilities.
"We have all visited the affected areas and seen the damage to private property, and are deeply concerned that the Administration determined that the severe damage to homes was not significant enough to warrant this support," wrote DFL U.S. Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar and Republican U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack in a letter to Obama. "While we are continually impressed with the community response and the resilience of our constituents, we believe that federal assistance is necessary beyond the public assistance that has already been granted."
Gov. Mark Dayton also protested the agency's decision. A special session of the state legislature to deal with disaster aid is expected later this month.
State Rep. Connie Doepke, R-Orono, is pushing back against a mail campaign paid for by an outside spending group that typically supports candidates on her side of the aisle.
In a letter to Freedom Club founder Robert Cummins, Doepke, who is running in a GOP Primary in Senate District 33, says that her opponent and others have been spreading misinformation about her record on "right-to-work" legislation that would have made unions voluntary.
She's concerned that the Freedom Club's support of her GOP-endorsed primary opponent David Osmek, who also supports right-to-work legislation, hinged on that misinformation. Right-to-work legislation has been a top issue for the Freedom Club and, reportedly, for Cummins.
"I've been distressed that my opponent and others have distorted my vote and record on this issue, and especially in this past session when we came so close to putting this issue on the ballot," Doepke quoted from a letter she wrote Cummins on July 17.
Doepke says her support for right-to-work is clear, pointing to a letter Rep. Steve Drazkowski, a chief proponent of the bill, wrote thanking her for her support on the issue.
Doepke said that Cummins is one of her constituents and that he has been supportive of her campaigns in the past. The Freedom Club has also donated to Doepke in the past
But this time around, the Freedom Club, which is backed by wealthy Republican donors including Cummins, who is the organization's most generous financial benefactor, has been sending mailers to voters in Doepke's district near Lake Minnetonka targeting her spending record and praising Osmek .
"Connie Doepke voted to waste our tax dollars in Latin America for tropical bird habitats," says one mail piece sent by the group.
"Politicians like Connie Doepke's fiscally irresponsible leadership and wasteful spending is pushing out state and nation to the brink," the mailer goes on.
The same message is echoed on a website also set up by the Freedom Club.
But Doepke says those accusations aren't true, and so does retiring Sen. Gen Olson, the Republican both Doepke and Osmek are vying to replace this fall.
Olson, who has endorsed Doepke, came to her defense in an opinion piece posted on Doepke's website.
"Residents of the new Senate District #33 have received two literature pieces recently trashing Connie Doepke for wasteful spending of your tax dollars on tropical birds," Olson wrote. "They have been generated and paid for by the Freedom Club PAC with money given by business people for whom I have had great respect. These allegations, however, are not the truth."
Doepke voted in favor of the environment, energy and natural resources funding bill, which included a provision that allowed the DNR Commissioner to set aside money to improve habitat in Costa Rica for Minnesota songbirds, Olson wrote. That money comes from the Non-game Wildlife Fund, which Minnesota taxpayers voluntarily contribute to on their tax return. The check-off has been around since 1980, Olson explained.
For her part, Doepke is surprised by the amount of money the Freedom Club has so far spent on a primary race between two conservative candidates.
"I think that the unprecedented spending in a primary, this is amazing," Doepke said.
According to a recent finance report, the Freedom Club has spent more than $7,000, roughly split between mailers in support of Osmek and in opposition to Doepke.
The group has also spent about $2,500 against Republican Rep. Steve Smith, who is running for re-election in House District 33B. Republican House Speaker Kurt Zellers recently endorsed Smith's opponent Cindy Pugh over Smith.
Posted at 8:35 PM on August 1, 2012
by Brett Neely
Filed under: U.S. House
WASHINGTON - With tax issues at the heart of this year's election campaign, two Minnesota Democrats who represent conservative, rural regions of the state joined Republicans Wednesday in what's likely to be a symbolic vote to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for all taxpayers, including the wealthy.
U.S. Reps. Collin Peterson and Tim Walz were among 19 Democrats who voted in favor of a unilateral, one-year extension of the current tax rates, which are set to expire at the end of the year. All four of Minnesota's Republican House members also voted in favor of the extension, while DFL U.S. Reps. Keith Ellison and Betty McCollum were opposed.
Overall, the measure passed the House 256-171 with just one Republican joining Democrats to vote against the bill. The House bill is dead on arrival in the Democratic-controlled Senate; leaders there have vowed to not bring the bill up for a vote.
Led by President Obama, most Democrats have cast their proposal in terms of fairness, noting that taxes would only rise for 2 percent of taxpayers. Those earning less than $250,000 would see no change in their taxes but those earning more would see the Clinton-era tax rates return. Under the Democratic plan, the top tax rate would rise from 35 percent to 39.6 percent.
Peterson and Walz have regularly bucked their party in the past few months, throwing their support behind a Republican bill to authorize a new oil pipeline from Canada, a Republican bill to extend low student loan interest rates paid for by taking funds from the 2010 health care law and a measure to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress.
In a statement to MPR News, Walz said he voted for the Republican tax plan because the Democratic alternative offered on the floor would let the estate tax revert to the Clinton-era rate of 55 percent for estates larger than $1 million from the current 35 percent on estates larger than $5 million.
"While I support ending tax breaks for the wealthiest among us, the Democratic plan that would have accomplished this failed to add fairness to the estate tax to protect family farmers," said Walz. "With the current high price of farm land, I cannot in good conscience support legislation that could hurt our hard working farmers who are the backbone of the rural economy in southern Minnesota."
Posted at 10:30 PM on August 1, 2012
by Tom Scheck
Filed under: Daily Digest
Prosecutors will retest evidence in 350 cases that were called into question as a result of the St. Paul crime lab.
Gov. Dayton appealed FEMA's denial of flood aid.
New Jersey's bullying law could be a model for Minnesota.
The sale of synthetic drugs is now a felony.
Same-sex marriage debate
A Hennepin County court rules that a same-sex partner can inherit a partner's assets.
A Minneapolis Catholic Church has opted to postpone, not cancel, a presentation by Secretary of State Mark Ritchie.
Americans across the country showed up for Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.
President Obama authorized secret U.S. support for the Syrian rebels.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says military action against Iran remains an option. He made the comments while visiting Israel.
The Federal Reserve says the economy is slowing but decided against taking new action to bolster the economy.
GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann wrote an op-ed defending herself for raising questions about Muslims in the federal government. She did not apologize for alleging Huma Abedin or Keith Ellison is linked to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Several former U.S. Intelligence officials say Bachmann should be replaced on the House Intelligence Committee.
The Washington Post has documents that show that the White House budget analyst warned that saving Solyndra could cose more than letting it fail.
The House voted to extend the Bush-era tax cuts.
DFL Rep. Tim Walz and DFL Rep. Collin Peterson defied the Democrats and voted for the tax cut extension.
The Senate voted on sanctions for Iran.
The New York Times says Tea Party influence could shape Senate Republicans.
The BWCAW Land bill, sponsored by GOP Rep. Chip Cravaack, moves to the full House for a vote.
DFL Rep. Keith Ellison and the Progressive Caucus proposed a "budget deal for all."
Race for Legislature
GOP Rep. Connie Doepke is working to shore up those who have doubts about her "Right-to-work" credentials. She said Freedom Club founder Bob Cummins has been misled about where she stands on the issues.
Race for Congress
Republican Allen Quist held a town hall meeting in Worthington.
Race for President
The Tax Policy Center says 95 percent of Americans would see a tax hike under Mitt Romney's tax plan. Romney's campaign counters that the group isn't factoring in the rate of growth caused by the tax cuts.
Both political camps are sparring over the tax study.
Romney's opposition to a wind-energy tax credit is roiling Capitol Hill.
Norm Coleman has been named to Romney's Jewish American Coalition.
A Democratic Super PAC reserved $30 million in ad time for the fall.
President Obama's team sees promise in the 3rd Party presidential candidates.
Pawlenty for VP Watch
ABC's Jonathan Karl says Tim Pawlenty is the front-runner in the Veepstakes.
Rob Portman is distancing himself from former George W. Bush in an interview with The Hill.