Two special elections last night for Minnesota House seats left the DFL and Republican balance unchanged.
GOP tops field in special election for St. Cloud seat (St. Cloud Times)
"Republican Tama Theis cruised past DFLer Joanne Dorsher and the Independence Party's Todd McKee Tuesday, retaining control of a historically GOP district with a special-election win in Minnesota House District 14A."
DFLer wins N. Mankato area House seat (Mankato Free Press)
"University professor Clark Johnson won 54 percent in a special election for a North Mankato area seat in the Minnesota House beating Republican Allen Quist. The election to replace resigning Rep. Terry Morrow, keeps the seat in DFL hands."
Minn. delegation generally positive on Obama speech (MPR News)
"One of Obama's harshest critics in Minnesota's delegation, Rep. Michele Bachmann, said while the speech didn't break new ground, she hoped his call to renew the nation's infrastructure would mean federal funds to help widen I-94 in her district."
Kline gets 'survivor' status during State of the Union speech (Star Tribune)
"Security officials asked Rep. John Kline to view proceedings from an alternate site near the Capitol. The implication: Kline was a designated survivor if a catastrophe hit. It's a Cold War practice extended in recent years to members of Congress."
Animal welfare groups sue to end Midwest wolf hunt (Associated Press)
Humane Society and other groups argue "the decision to take wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan off the endangered list threatens the animals' recovery throughout most of their historic range."
Minneapolis' mayoral race puts test to ranked-choice voting system (MPR News)
"With seven declared candidates for Minneapolis' most hotly contested mayoral race in decades, the city will use ranked-choice voting to decide the winner. This election is expected to draw far more voters and put the system to the test."
Audit calls for more oversight of Minnesota easements (Star Tribune)
"Minnesota is spending hundreds of millions of dollars conserving private land without ensuring that the money is doing what it's supposed to, a state watchdog agency says."
Poll: Obama's approval stands at 52% (CBS News)
Obama: "Thriving middle class" key to finishing economic recovery (CBS News)
In GOP response, Rubio offers back-to-basics conservative message (Washington Post)
Hearing set for Mayo Clinic bill
There has been plenty of attention involving a bill that would rely on $585 million in taxpayer money to help the city of Rochester redevelop the city.
The plan, which is being pushed by the Mayo Clinic, is now set to go through the legislative meat grinder on Thursday. The House Jobs and Economic Development Finance and Policy Committee will hold a hearing on the bill that day at 12:30.
Gov. Dayton has said something has to be done to ensure the Mayo Clinic expands in Minnesota. But several lawmakers expressed concerns that the bill could set a bad precedent since the city could tap a portion of income and corporate tax revenues to pay for local development.
Mayo Clinic officials say the money is needed to ensure the city remains a destination medical center. -- Tom Scheck
WASHINGTON - Minnesota's members of Congress say they want to work with President Obama, even if they disagree with policies outlined in his State of the Union address.
One of Obama's harshest critics in Minnesota's delegation, Republican U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, said while the speech didn't break new ground, she hoped his call for renewing the nation's infrastructure would mean federal funds to help widen I-94 in her district.
"Where I think maybe we can work together for the good of the people in Minnesota was on infrastructure projects," said Bachmann.
DFL U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar noticed a shift in tone among fellow members of Congress compared to last year.
"I didn't think you saw the negativity in the chamber. It's post-election, it's time to move on and get working and there were a lot of positive moments where everyone stood together," said Klobuchar.
Some, such as DFL U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, thought Obama made a rhetorical slam dunk.
"I just thought it was a tremendous, just a tremendous, outstanding speech. Maybe the best I've ever heard on a State of the Union speech," said Nolan, who served three terms in Congress between 1975 and 1981 and was in the House chamber for former President Jimmy Carter's final State of the Union.
Obama's proposal to tackle the looming automatic budget cuts that take effect March 1st didn't strike long-serving DFL Congressman Collin Peterson as feasible. The plan involves overhauling how Medicare pays medical providers to reduce costs. It also cuts tax breaks.
"I don't know, I mean he can say this is paid for but I don't see how," said Peterson. "I was sitting with the Republicans - this was not going over. So I don't see how you get anyplace."
One issue on the minds of many lawmakers was gun control. Obama brought Democrats to their feet after he invoked the names of victims of gun violence and said "They deserve a vote."
Echoing Obama, St. Paul Democrat Betty McCollum said, "We deserve a vote on it, we need to find the common ground on it, I'm not going to give up."
"I was really honored that he demonstrated real commitment to making change because the people who don't want change are committed but the President's also committed," said DFL U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, who invited 17-year-old Sami Rahamim as his guest.
Rahamim's father was killed by a gunman last year during a workplace mass shooting in Minneapolis.
Republican Congressman Erik Paulsen brought along Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek as his guest to the speech. Stanek has been part of a group of law enforcement officials consulted by the White House as it developed its gun proposals.
Paulsen has been endorsed by the National Rifle Association but his suburban district also voted for President Obama in the last election. Paulsen said he could possibly support some of the administration's ideas around tightening background checks for gun purchases.
"Making sure we listen to practitioners and understanding that there are holes in the current background system, making sure that accessibility for those who are mentally ill and unstable and aren't going to have access to guns is probably the top priority we should be focusing on," said Paulsen.
Obama's proposal to create universal access to preschool education across the country found strong support among the delegation's Democrats.
"The fact of the matter is this isn't just about a feel-good to get kids into playing with blocks or something, this is about getting kids ready to learn, ready to get into kindergarten," said U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, a former teacher.
But Republicans, especially Bachmann, were leery about the plan's potential costs and impact on local control of schools.
"I don't believe in the federal government coming into Minnesota, taking our state money and telling our teachers what to teach, how to teach, what to test," said Bachmann.
Foreign policy issues didn't come up much in the delegation's response to the address. But DFL U.S. Sen. Al Franken noticed one point the president made. Franken signed a bipartisan letter asking Obama to reveal more about the legal basis for attacks made with unmanned drones. He was relieved to hear Obama say he would keep Congress better informed about secret counter-terrorism operations.
"I was glad to hear him talk about that," said Franken.
Legislation introduced today in the Minnesota Senate would designate an official state poem.
Sen. Bruce Anderson, R-Buffalo Township, is proposing the honor for "Minnesota Blue," which was written by Keith Haugen in 1985 as a tribute to the state. In addition to the designation, Anderson's bill would require that a copy of the poem be placed in the Office of the Secretary of State.
Here's the poem:
MINNESOTA BLUE(7 Comments)
Minnesota, how I love you
Minnesota, I've been away too long
How I miss your clean fresh air, your lakes and rivers too
How I miss your Minnesota Blue
Do your golden fields of wheat and corn
Still shimmer in the early morn
Waving to the clouds as they drift by
Do moose and bear still rule the earth
In the Red River Valley of my birth
Do the Northern Lights still dance across your sky
Does the North Star still guide you
Do your farmers still provide you
With the way of life that we all learned to share
Do they still follow the Golden Rule
And dress up each week for Sunday School
Do your families still give thanks for living there
Are your skies still free of smoke and haze
Do your old folks still remember days
When your skyline was a grove of Norway pines
Does the North Wind whistle through your trees
Can you still smell wildflowers on the breeze
Do bass and pike still play with fishing lines
Do your children still walk the rails
Or discover hidden Indian trails
Do canoes glide through Minnesota streams
Can you hear the cry of the lonely loon
Do wolves still howl at your full moon
Is Viking Land still Mother Nature's dream
Do you still have dairies and rolling hills
And mines and quarries and flour mills
Do you still brew the best of America's beers
Do bobcats still cry at night
Does snow still fall so soft and white
Do icicles hang like crystal chandeliers
So many of yours have left to roam
But they still call Minnesota home
Like geese that fly above your lakes and wilds
And for every one of your million stars
There's a prairie son who's traveled far
Oh, please remember this Minnesota child.
Minnesota, how I love you
Minnesota, I've been away too long
How I miss your clean fresh air, 10,000 lakes and you
How I miss my Minnesota Blue
Oh, how I miss my Minnesota Blue
Copyright 1985, Keith Haugen
Republican and DFL leaders in the Minnesota Senate are welcoming news that a federal judge has dismissed several counts from a lawsuit filed by a former Senate staffer.
U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson dismissed three counts of defamation from the lawsuit filed by former Minnesota Senate staffer Michael Brodkorb. Two discrimination counts remain.
Brodkorb was fired in 2011 after several senators learned he was having an affair with then-GOP Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch. Brodkorb sued saying female staffers who had affairs were treated differently.
DFL Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk issued a statement saying legislative leaders hope to bring the remainder of the lawsuit to a prompt and satisfactory conclusion.
Brodkorb said via email he had no comment on the judge's decision.
Here's Bakk's statement:
"I welcome this news on behalf of the Minnesota State Senate. We will now take time to review the implications of this decision as we determine how the Senate will proceed and ultimately resolve this litigation. Our hope is to bring the remainder of the law suit to a prompt and satisfactory conclusion."
Here's a statement from GOP Senate Minority Leader David Hann (who was one of the senators who initially confronted Koch about the affair):
"We're pleased the judge agreed with the Senate and dismissed all three claims. We've said all along these claims are without merit and the Senate has acted lawfully. We believe the courts will find the remaining claims to also be without merit."
Here's Nelson's ruling:0 Comments)