Debt and taxes will be topics of conversation this morning in hearings at the Capitol, starting with an overview of Minnesota's debt set for the House Capital Investment Committee.
Health exchange bill passes first Senate committee (MPR News)
It's expected that one in five Minnesotans will use the online exchange to comparison shop for health care policies and enroll in Medicaid beginning in October. Legislation must still pass 13 more committees.
Some gun rights supporters dispute data on firearms, self-defense (MPR News)
Some gun owners say having a gun at home has helped them protect their families and property and they see bias in data showing guns at home were more likely to be used on the resident than on an intruder.
Minnesota House bill would put checks on foreclosure (Star Tribune)
Bill would stop lenders from starting foreclosure proceedings "at the same time they are working with homeowners on ways to avoid foreclosure."
Franken undecided on assault weapons ban (Rochester Post-Bulletin)
In Rochester, Sen. Al Franken says he supports limits on ammunition magazines and tightening background checks, but didn't say whether he supported an assault weapons, a key provision of the president's plan.
UPDATE: Franken in a statement said he supports "the principle that we should reinstate a ban on assault weapons, and I will carefully review any proposal to do that."
NRA's success shows challenges facing Obama gun plans(Washington Post)
Republicans hopeful on unseating Peterson?
2012 may have just ended, but the campaign cycle never ends for political strategists in Washington. On Wednesday, the National Republican Congressional Committee released its list of takeover targets for the 2014 midterm election cycle and put long-serving DFL U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson on the list.
The House GOP has long dreamed of unseating Peterson but the independent-minded DFLer (he only voted with House Democrats 57 percent of the time in the past Congress) has long withstood a variety of Republican challengers and won his most recent election by 25 points.
House Republicans also suggested that rural Democrats Tim Walz and Rick Nolan were vulnerable though both also managed to cruise to victory last November. -- Brett Neely
Obama taps Minnesota's U.S. Attorney to head ATF
President Barack Obama intends to nominate B. Todd Jones, Minnesota's U.S. Attorney, as director of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Jones has served as the ATF's acting director since late 2011 while working as Minnesota's chief federal prosecutor. -- Madeleine Baran
Sales tax changes likely in Dayton budget plan
Expect a proposal to change the sales tax in Gov. Dayton's coming budget, Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk told the TPT show "Almanac at the Capitol."
One of the earliest Senate bills would impose new taxes on clothing sales. It faces stiff opposition from the Mall of America and other retailers.
"If we go down the road of starting to expand the sales tax ... part of the deal is we have to reduce the rate on everything else people buy," said Bakk, adding he didn't know the details of what the governor will propose.
The Senate Environment and Energy Committee will hold confirmation hearings today for MN Pollution Control Agency Commissioner John Linc Stine and MN Board of Soil and Water Resources Chair Brian Napstad.
The hearings are just two days after committees recommended the full Senate confirm Management and Budget Commissioner Jim Schowalter and Higher Education Director Larry Pogemiller. - Tom Scheck
Ellison wants gun victims' voice at State of the Union
Saying he wants to keep the pressure on for new gun safety laws, DFL Rep. Keith Ellison and other congressional Democrats plan to invite gun violence victims to the House chamber Feb. 12 to hear President Obama's State of the Union address.
A primary election is set for Jan. 29, in House District 19A to decide the DFL candidate for a special election on Feb. 12.
The special election will fill the seat vacated by Rep. Terry Morrow, DFL-St. Peter, who resigned to take a new job in Chicago. Secretary of State Mark Ritchie announced today that the primary election ballot will include the names of four DFL candidates: Robin Courrier, Clark P. Johnson, Karl Johnson and Timothy Strand. The DFL party is expected to endorse a candidate Saturday.
Republican Alan Quist and Tim Gieseke of the Independence Party are also running for the seat.
Another special election is scheduled Feb. 12 in House District 14A to fill the seat vacated by Rep. Steve Gottwalt, R-St. Cloud, who also resigned to take a new job. No primary is required in that district. The candidates there are DFLer Joanne Dorscher, Republican Tama Theis and Todd McKee of the Independence Party.(0 Comments)
DFL Sen. Al Franken says he supports a ban on assault weapons - one day after the Rochester Post-Bulletin reported he was undecided on such a ban (the paper has now updated the story).
In a statement today Franken said he supports an assault weapons ban in principle but wants to see the specifics of any legislation.
"I also support the principle that we should reinstate a ban on assault weapons, and I will carefully review any proposal to do that," Franken said. "We need to make sure we don't have weapons out there that are really designed for the battlefield, and not for hunting."
Franken also wants to ban large ammunition clips and spend more money on mental health treatment.
Franken, who is up for re-election in 2014, may have to walk a careful line on any legislation involving guns. Minnesota has many voters, including rural Democrats, who support gun rights. But there are many Democrats in urban communities like Minneapolis and St. Paul, who want to see tougher gun regulation.
Here's Franken's full statement:
"My heart is heavy over the tragedy that occurred in Connecticut and my thoughts are with those who are grieving. I've always supported the Second Amendment rights of Minnesotans to own firearms for collection, protection, and sport. But I also think we need to find a balance between those rights and the safety of our children and our communities. I co-sponsored legislation to ban large clips like those used in so many mass shootings. I also support the principle that we should reinstate a ban on assault weapons, and I will carefully review any proposal to do that. We need to make sure we don't have weapons out there that are really designed for the battlefield, and not for hunting. In the days and weeks ahead, I'm going to consult closely with all of the affected communities in the state - and that includes people like hunters, educators, parents, and other elected officials - about the best path forward."
Legislation introduced today in the Minnesota Senate would prevent some convicted felons from owning guns after they've served their sentence.
The measure would eliminate the right of violent felons to petition the court to have their ability to possess a firearm restored. Sen. Barb Goodwin, DFL-Columbia Heights, said her bill would target people who've used a gun to commit a violent crime. Goodwin said she also wants to move the job of restoring a person's gun rights from judges to the state Board of Pardons.
"I am not against, in fact am in favor, of giving formerly convicted felons their voting rights back," Goodwin said. "Anything you can do to make them a member of society, productive member of society, I'm all for that. But I'm not comfortable giving their firearms back."
Goodwin introduced a similar bill two years ago, but it never received a committee hearing.
Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, said he thinks the bill is a solution in search of a problem.
"If it's gun control they're looking for here, I'm not sure what she's trying to do," Ingebrigtsen said. "But obviously because of the shootings, that's become kind of on the front burner around here. I think it's going to do absolutely nothing."
Ingebrigtsen, who's a former county sheriff, said he would rather see a focus this session on addressing mental health issues.(5 Comments)