State lawmakers continue their preparations for a special session aimed at providing relief to storm and flood-damaged areas of the state.
The one-day special session is tentatively scheduled for Friday, Aug. 24. Members of the House and Senate dug into the details of a proposed $190 million bill today with representatives of several state agencies. Last week, some Republicans said the proposed aid package from DFL Governor Mark Dayton was bigger than expected, and they were experiencing "sticker shock."
Senate Majority Leader Senjem, R-Rochester, told reporters after the meeting that he still has questions about some aspects of the proposed bill. But Senjem wasn't questioning the estimated cost.
"I don't think I had sticker shock," Senjem said. "We knew initially that (it would be) a little over $100 million, and that was going to grow. But I think we're all going to look at details, and I think the emphasis is we're going to stick to flood-related damages and wherever that number takes us."
Republican leaders have not yet said whether the bill will go through any committee hearings before the special session floor votes. State Rep. Gene Pelowski, DFL-Winona, warned against rushing the bill to the floor without any hearings or public testimony.
"That's the worst way to solve these problems," Pelowski said.
Gov. Dayton said the special session is still on track, but he's waiting to make the call until he has a prior agreement worked out with GOP leaders. He has a private meeting scheduled with those leaders tomorrow.
Posted at 2:49 PM on August 16, 2012
by Tim Pugmire
Filed under: MN Legislature
The St. Louis County Attorney's office has reportedly decided not to charge state Rep. Kerry Gauthier, DFL-Duluth, in connection with an incident last month at a rest stop along Interstate 35.
The Duluth News Tribune reports today that police investigated Gauthier for allegedly having oral sex with a 17-year-old male who he had met through an ad on Craigslist. The newspaper also said the legislator had been admitted to a Duluth hospital Wednesday.
Gauthier, 56, was first elected to the Minnesota House in 2010 and is seeking a second term in November. He did not attend a State Capitol meeting today related to a disaster relief bill for the Duluth area and other communities hit by storms and floods in June.
Republican Party of Minnesota Chairman Pat Shortridge sent out a news release claiming the incident is affecting Gauthier's ability to do his job.
"Gauthier's constituents have legitimate reason to believe that what he terms a 'private matter' is preventing him from doing his job representing them," Shortridge wrote. "Gauthier's absence from today's legislative hearing on providing his district relief from the floods that devastated Duluth in June, raises serious doubts about his ability to continue holding public office."
During an unrelated news conference, Minnesota DFL Party Chairman Ken Martin told reporters that he was as surprised as anyone about the reports. Martin said he had not talked to Gauthier and did not have any more to say.
"I'm not going to comment on any of that today," Martin said. "I don't know enough information. It's not fair for me to jump to any conclusion at this point."
Posted at 3:25 PM on August 16, 2012
by Tom Scheck
Filed under: Campaign 2012, Campaign 2012: Minn. House Races, Campaign 2012: Minn. Senate Races, Campaign 2012: U.S. House, MN Legislature, Mark Dayton, Redistricting
A five member panel of judges tasked with redrawing the state's political lines has awarded $345,000 in attorney's fees.
The judicial panel ruled that attorneys representing the DFL Party, Republicans in Minnesota and a group of DFL citizens are entitled to $115,000 each for the work on the redistricting case. The court ruled that the funds should be made available as a result of the Civil Rights Act. Attorneys for the three groups were seeking a total payment of $691,131.
The attorneys were hired to represent the parties in court after Democratic Governor Mark Dayton failed to agree to a set of political boundaries with GOP leaders in the Legislature. A five member judicial panel was then tasked with taking testimony on how the new set of political lines should be drawn as result of the 2010 census. The court released the new set of maps in February.
Secretary of State Mark Ritchie asked the panel to deny attorneys fees because he said taxpayers should not bear the expense of redistricting.
Here's the order:
A110152Order - Taxation of Costs-Disbursements Andor Atty Fees
Posted at 5:00 PM on August 16, 2012
by Tim Pugmire
Filed under: Mark Dayton
Gov. Mark Dayton is calling for a Day of Remembrance and Reconciliation in Minnesota tomorrow, to commemorate the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862.
Dayton released a statement today, in which he urged Minnesotans to consider their "dark past" on the 150th anniversary. He also criticized the actions of Alexander Ramsey, Minnesota's second governor, who after the war said the Dakota should be exterminated or driven from the state.
Here's the full statement:
August 17, 1862 marked a terrible period in Minnesota's history. The first victims of the "U.S.-Dakota War of 1862" lost their lives on that day, 150 years ago. The ensuing attacks and counter-attacks killed hundreds more U.S. soldiers, Dakota braves, conniving traders, and innocent people. Tragically, those deaths started a vicious cycle of hate crimes, which continued long after the war was ended.
The events leading to those atrocities actually began before 1862. The United States Government, through its agents in the new State of Minnesota, either persuaded, deceived, or forced the state's long-time inhabitants from Dakota and Ojibwe Indian tribes to give up their lands for promises of money, food, and supplies. Many of the government's promises were repeatedly broken.
The displaced Dakota and Chippewa tribes watched newly arrived settlers claim the lands that had been theirs. They were denied their treaty payments of money and food, which resulted in starvation for many of their children and elderly. Often, when annuity payments did finally arrive, they were immediately plundered by some dishonest officials and traders.
On August 17, 1862, a group of Dakota braves attacked and killed five new settlers at Acton in Meeker County. The Dakota community was not unanimous in the decision to go to war; some of them helped the settlers. Nonetheless, the war began. Atrocities were committed by combatants on both sides against combatants and noncombatants alike. Hundreds of people were killed. Many more Indian and immigrant lives were ruined. And the lives of Minnesotans were altered for the next 150 years.
The war ended, but the attacks against innocent Indian children, women, and elderly continued. They were even encouraged by the Governor of Minnesota.
On September 9, 1862, Alexander Ramsey proclaimed: "Our course then is plain. The Sioux Indians of Minnesota must be exterminated or driven forever beyond the borders of the State. . . ."
"They must be regarded and treated as outlaws. If any shall escape extinction, the wretched remnant must be driven beyond our borders and our frontier garrisoned with a force sufficient to forever prevent their return."
A Minnesota newspaper chimed in, "We have plenty of young men who would like no better fun than a good Indian hunt."
I am appalled by Governor Ramsey's words and by his encouragement of vigilante violence against innocent people; and I repudiate them. I know that almost all Minnesotans, living today, would be just as revolted. The viciousness and violence, which were commonplace 150 years ago in Minnesota, are not accepted or allowed now.
Yet hostile feelings do still exist between some Native Americans and their neighbors. Detestable acts are still perpetrated by members of one group against the other. Present grievances, added to past offenses, make it difficult to commemorate the past, yet not continue it.
I call for tomorrow, the 150th anniversary of August 17, 1862, to be "a Day of Remembrance and Reconciliation in Minnesota." I ask everyone to remember that dark past; to recognize its continuing harm in the present; and to resolve that we will not let it poison the future.
To everyone who lost family members during that time, I offer my deepest condolences for your losses. I ask you especially to help lead us to better attitudes and actions toward others.
To honor the American soldiers, Dakota people, and settlers who lost their lives in that war, I order that all state flags shall be flown at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on August 17, 2012.
And I urge everyone participating in the events commemorating this 150th Anniversary to practice not only remembrance, but also reconciliation.