Lawmakers seek alternatives to some of Dayton's tax ideas (MPR News)
"Reaction to Gov. Dayton's proposed re-tooling of sales taxes, income taxes and property taxes has been mostly lukewarm, even among his fellow Democrats. Some are already looking at possible options."
Gun advocates say background check expansion won't stop bad guys (MPR News)
Supporters told a Minnesota Senate panel that most Americans back criminal background checks for all guy buyers. Gun rights advocates say it won't stop criminals from getting guns.
Panel mulls earlier school start in Minn. (MPR News)
State law requires classes start after Labor Day unless school districts get a waiver. A bill would let the districts decide when to start. But Minnesota's tourism industry warns that could cut summer vacations short and damage business.
Bill would extend alcohol sales to Gopher hockey and football games (MPR News)
One lawmaker says the experience at football games shows beer and wine can be sold responsibly. The Legislature last year allowed alcohol sales at the Gopher football stadium, earning the U $900,000 in liquor sales from seven home games last season.
Minnesota bill calls for 5-year moratorium on wolf hunting, trapping (Star Tribune)
"The bill's chance of passage appears to be a long shot. The law opening wolves to hunting and trapping last year passed with bipartisan support. And it might face an especially difficult time in the House."
Frac sand firm agrees to reviews for proposed SE Minn. mines (MPR News)
A frac sand mining company proposing two mines in Winona County has agreed to conduct an in-depth environmental review of the projects voluntarily. The decision comes two weeks after state health officials called for a review.
Other states take different approach on taxes than Dayton (MPR News)
Louisiana GOP Gov. Bobby Jindal is considering eliminating the income tax and replacing the lost revenue by increasing the sales tax. GOP governors in Kansas and Nebraska are weighing similar policy shifts
Feds award Minn. $45M Medicaid grant (MPR News)
"The federal government has awarded Minnesota $45 million to serve as a model testing site to lower taxpayer costs and improve the quality of care for Medicaid patients."
Movement in budget cuts battle? (CBS News)
Military brass: Cuts will impair readiness (Washington Post)
Buying a gun? States consider insurance rule (New York Times)
Revenue Department pushes back against criticism of Dayton tax plan
A new Minnesota Department of Revenue study argues 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.
Business groups say the plan is unfair. Some contend his plan to tax clothing and consumer services would make lower and middle income Minnesotans pay more.
-- Tom Scheck
A southeastern Minnesota lawmaker is proposing a broad bill that regulates the frac sand industry in Minnesota. Sen. Matt Schmit, DFL-Red Wing, wants to study the impact of silica sand mining on water resources, air and water quality and roads and bridges.
Schmit says his bill would allow local governments to extend their moratoriums on frac sand mining for two years. He says that should give the state enough time to study the impact of the industry.
"This GEIS is going to set that study in motion and it will come back with some specific recommendations and set the stage for standards," he said.
Schmit's bill would also create a silica sand production tax to help pay for damage caused by the mining. Schmit disagrees with industry officials who say statewide standards aren't needed. He says the industry explosion in western Wisconsin prompted him to take action.
"When the price of silica sand increases and the demand for it increases and the demand for it increases, we're going to see a lot of permit requests coming into southern Minnesota," Schmit said. "I think it's fine. We want to strike a right balance between leveraging a resource that we have but we want to make sure we do it right and I'm not sure western Wisconsin has done it right."
Local officials have been urging state lawmakers to come up with standards to regulate frac sand mining. The industry has emerged in recent years to help the oil and gas industry use silica sand to help free oil and gas reserves using the hydraulic fracturing process or fracking.
Industry officials say they don't think state regulations are necessary.
Here's a copy of the bill. The bill is scheduled to get a hearing on Tuesday.
Bobby King, state policy organizer for the Land Stewardship Project, said the bill doesn't include the state moratorium on frac sand mining the group had wanted. But he said he expects a state moratorium will be added to the bill as an amendment during Tuesday's hearing.
"We can establish state standards and do an in-depth study to figure out how harmful the industry is but if we haven't pressed the pause button, they're going to run in and develop," King said.
MPR's Elizabeth Dunbar contributed to this report.
WASHINGTON - The automatic across the board federal budget cuts that were never supposed to happen kick in a week from today and airports in Minnesota are among the first to learn about how the government plans to handle the potential disruptions.
The Federal Aviation Administration announced Friday that air traffic control facilities at a series of small airports in Minnesota could be closed if the agency is required to cut $600 million from this year's budget.
The agency lists air traffic control at St. Cloud Regional Airport, Anoka County-Blaine Airport, Flying Cloud Airport in Eden Prairie and Crystal Tower in Crystal as being targeted for closure if the automatic budget cuts known as sequester begin on March 1. Additionally, the FAA could end overnight air traffic control at the Duluth Airport.
In an appearance before the White House press corps Friday, outgoing Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the agency would likely have to furlough all of its nearly 47,000 employees for one day a pay period until the end of September in order for the agency to meet its share of the $85 billion in cuts that will affect large swaths of the federal government.
"Obviously, as always, safety is our top priority, and we will never allow the amount of air travel we can handle safely to take off and land, which means travelers should expect delays," said LaHood.
LaHood said the closures would not happen right away but would probably begin around April 1, giving Congress and the White House some breathing room to work out a potential deal.
These cuts are the result of two years of fiscal firefights between Republicans in the U.S. House and the Obama Administration. The sequester mechanism was created after Republicans refused to permit an increase in the nation's borrowing limit in mid-2011 without deep spending cuts. Both parties hoped the pain of the sequester, which affects both domestic and defense programs, would force a negotiated settlement though that hasn't happened.(0 Comments)
Another effort is underway to organize state-subsidized child care providers.
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 5 is holding a State Capitol news conference Monday to announce the Child Care Collective Bargaining Act. An advisory from the union said legislation will be introduced that day to authorize child care providers to collectively bargain with the State of Minnesota.
Sen. Sandy Pappas, DFL-St. Paul, and Rep. Michael Nelson, DFL-Brooklyn Park, will attend along with child care providers.
A previous attempt to organize the same group of in-home providers failed last year when a Ramsey County judge blocked a unionization vote in response to a lawsuit from union opponents. The judge ruled that Gov. Mark Dayton had exceeded his authority when he scheduled the vote with an executive order.
Separate legislation was introduced this week to allow a unionization vote among subsidized personal care assistants who provide self-directed home health care to the elderly and disabled. The Service Employees International Union is leading that effort.