Expect big crowds and more heated debate today on gun legislation as Capitol lawmakers start two more days of hearings on the matter, this time in the Senate.
Mayo's expansion may create jobs, but how many? (MPR News)
Mayo seeks $500 million in public funds to pay for roads, bridges, sewers, parking and other parts of the massive proposed project. Some experts are skeptical of Mayo's job projections. Minnesota lawmakers want more details.
Assault weapons ban off the table in Senate gun bill hearings (MPR News)
Gun control hearings resume today at the state Capitol but the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman says his committee will not consider any proposals to ban assault-style weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.
Law regulating free online classes should go, legislator says (MPR News)
A state senator wants to let colleges offer large, free not-for-credit online classes in Minnesota. Private and out-of-state colleges offering online courses now pay a fee whether the classes are free or offer no credit.
Traffic camera bill hits a red light at Minnesota House (MPR News)
The House Transportation Policy Committee tables a bill to let cities install cameras designed to catch red light runners at intersections after several members raised concerns that the traffic cameras would violate civil liberties.
Mayors: Dayton budget will keep property taxes down (MPR News)
"Mayors from St. Paul, St. Cloud and several metro area suburbs say Gov. Mark Dayton's proposed budget will help them maintain services without a property tax hike."
Same-sex marriage backers try to capitalize on GOPer's support (Star Tribune)
"The group trying to legalize same-sex marriage in Minnesota has crafted a fundraising appeal to capitalize on a Republican legislator's announcement that he plans to co-sponsor the bill."
Carp fears add to pressure to close St. Anthony Falls locks (Pioneer Press)
"Armed with proposed federal legislation and a fresh discovery of more invasive carp in the Mississippi River, state and federal lawmakers in Minnesota are pushing to close the shipping lock at Upper St. Anthony Falls in Minneapolis."
Bill to seek 10% solar energy standard (Pioneer Press)
"Minnesota should have a mandate for using solar energy similar to the one it has for using renewable wind energy, say backers of a pair of bills to be filed today in the Legislature."
Personal care givers hope to vote on unionizing (WCCO)
"Thousands of Minnesota's personal care attendants are asking state lawmakers to allow them to vote on a union. State law does not allow home care attendants to be in a union, and a bill to be introduced this week would simply permit a vote."
Pentagon warns of furloughs if automatic cuts kick in (Washington Post)
Budget cuts seen as risk to growth of U.S. economy (New York Times)
Can Republicans win the Senate in 2014? (New York Times)
Mulling Senate bid, Ashley Judd meets with Democratic officials (CBS News)
Kline among most conservative, Franken among most liberal in Congress
U.S. Sen. Al Franken, a Democrat, was the third most liberal member of the Senate in 2012, according to annual rankings released by the National Journal.
The magazine tracks lawmakers' votes on key issues over the year looking for areas of sharp, partisan divide. He shared third place with Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois.
Across the Rotunda, U.S. Rep. John Kline, a Republican, made the publication's list of most conservative lawmakers, coming in at 26th place, tied with Reps. Diane Black of Tennessee and Joe Wilson of South Carolina. No other Minnesota lawmakers made the top of the National Journal's lists. -- Brett Neely
Minnesota Democrats recommend Oberstar for transportation chief
Minnesota's two Democratic Senators and five DFL U.S. House members are lobbying President Obama to name former U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar as the next Secretary of Transportation.
Oberstar has expressed interest in the job and has chops in transportation policy. He chaired the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
Still, Oberstar's road to nomination faces some potholes. At 78, Oberstar would be nearly a decade older than the next oldest member of Obama's cabinet. He also clashed with the White House in 2009 over his plan for a $500 billion highway bill that held a politically unpopular gas tax increase.
Under pressure from the administration, that bill was shelved. -- Brett Neely(0 Comments)
The Minnesota Department of Revenue released a study today saying Gov. Dayton's tax plan would be fairer to low and middle income Minnesotans than the current system.
"The bottom line is that the fourth tier tax increase and the homeowner property tax rebates are both very progressive and large enough to more than offset the impact of the more regressive portions of the full proposal," the department said in the bulletin.
The department's findings are based on the so-called SUITS Index that measures for progressivity.
Dayton's tax plan raises income taxed on top earners, increases the cigarette tax and changes the sales tax. His sales tax plan would reduce the overall rate from 6.875 percent to 5.5 percent but would expand the tax to business-to-business services, consumer services and clothing items that cost more than $100. Dayton also wants to provide a $500 tax rebate to each homeowner in the state.
Dayton's plan has been criticized by business groups who say it's unfair. Some contend his plan to tax clothing and consumer services would make lower and middle income Minnesotans pay more.
Republicans tried to highlight those concerns during a brief debate on Senate floor today. They forced a vote on a routine procedural move on Dayton's tax plan and worked to link Democratic votes for the procedural move as an endorsement of the plan.
"Many of us have said that we do not support this," Sen. Julianne Ortman, R-Chanhassen, said. "So this is our opportunity to say no. We don't want this bill in the Senate Tax Committee."
Democrats complained that the Republican effort would limit debate on Dayton's plan.
"I would urge that we do not exclude the public from this debate," Sen. Rod Skoe, DFL-Clearbrook said. "The committee hearing process is the opportunity for the public to weigh in on these important issues, so I would ask that this bill has the opportunity to go to committee."
Democrats were successful in sending the bill to the Taxes Committee. Skoe says he intends to hold hearings on Dayton's plan soon.
The discussion over the state budget is likely to change next week. That's because state finance officials are scheduled to release the next budget forecast. Gov. Dayton and lawmakers will use those figures to make final decisions on the next two-year budget.
Lawmakers in both houses of the state Legislature introduced bills this week to require 10 percent of the state's electricity to be produced by solar energy by 2030.
The Senate author, Sen. Chris Eaton of Brooklyn Center said on Thursday's Policast that establishing the standard would send a "strong, predictable long-term market signal to attract investment" in the state's solar energy industry.
"It's crucial that we start dealing with our carbon footprint here," Eaton said. "Whether you believe the weather changes are caused by it or not, it's becoming very clear that we need to do something different."
Advocates say the the proposal could create 2,000 jobs in solar installation, manufacturing and training in the first year, according to modeling from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
But solar advocates admit the energy standard would also come with an estimated 1 percent per year rate hike.
The 10 percent solar standard is also opposed by Xcel Energy. In a statement emailed to MPR, Xcel Energy Regional Vice President Laura McCarten said the company doesn't believe that the mandate is appropriate.
"Solar energy is projected to remain expensive relative to other clean energy resources such as wind power and conservation programs," McCarten said. "That is why we support a more moderate approach for advancing solar energy, one that balances the focus on solar with the other, more cost-effective clean energy resources available."
Utilities in the state are on track to meet a requirement to produce 25 percent of total electricity through renewable energy sources like wind, hydrogen and solar by the year 2025.
Policast is a daily roundup of Minnesota political news. The entire interview with Sen. Chris Eaton can be heard in the Thursday, Feb. 21 episode.(0 Comments)
A member of the Minnesota House says he wants the University of Minnesota to sell alcohol at college hockey and basketball games.
DFL Rep. Dan Schoen, DFL-Cottage Grove, said his bill would extend alcohol sales to Williams and Mariucci arenas. He said the experience at football games at TCF Bank stadium has shown that beer and wine can be sold responsibly.
Schoen said all adults at Gopher hockey and basketball games should be able to buy beer, not just those who sit in luxury suites.
"If it's working up in the suites, why doesn't it work for the average fan to come in and have a beer?," Schoen said. "I'm not telling them how to run their policy. It's just saying if you're going to do it there, do it the same way. If they don't want to sell then don't sell it anywhere."
The Legislature passed a bill last year that allowed alcohol sales at the Gopher football stadium. The U of M made $900,000 in liquor sales from seven home games last season. The profits went to the university's athletic department.(0 Comments)