A long busy, snowy day is in store at the Capitol today with hearings scheduled from early morning into evening.
Health exchange passes Minn. House; amendment restricts abortion coverage (MPR News)
"The DFL-controlled Minnesota House passed legislation creating a health insurance exchange largely on a party line vote. More than a million Minnesotans are expected to use the online gateway to comparison shop and enroll in health care coverage."
State audit shows taxpayers overpaid 4 HMOs $162 million (KSTP)
Audit says Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, Medica, HealthPartners and U-Care, collectively, were overpaid $162 million over the past eight years. That overpayment was funded by Minnesota taxpayers.
Democrats to propose big election system changes (MPR News)
Under the proposed Senate bill, eligible Minnesota voters could begin casting their ballots 15 days before Election Day. and allow voting by absentee ballot without having to explain why they can't vote in person in their precinct on Election Day.
Legislature: $5 insurance surcharge weighed to boost fire, police pensions (Pioneer Press)
"Minnesota lawmakers are considering a $5 surcharge to all homeowners and vehicle insurance policies to bolster struggling police and fire pension plans."
Mpls., St. Paul in line for big bucks for local projects (MPR News)
"This legislative session could be a good one for Minneapolis and St. Paul: With DFLers in control at the Capitol, Minnesota's two largest cities see opportunities to get more state money for their local priorities."
Minn. lawmakers switch to alternate gun plan (Associated Press)
"Fearing that broader restrictions on guns won't pass, top Minnesota lawmakers on Monday tacked toward new legislation that avoids expanding background checks as their best bet to tighten the state's gun laws."
County jails feel effect of federal budget cuts (MPR News)
"The federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement rents bed space in five county jails to house immigrant detainees but ICE says it's reducing the number of detainees held in custody due to uncertainty with the federal budget situation."
Graves signals another bid against Bachmann (MPR News)
"After coming close to unseating Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, Democrat Jim Graves appears to be inching toward another run against the state's most conservative member of Congress."
Minnesota sex offender program at risk of court takeover (Star Tribune)
"Minnesota's sex offender treatment program risks a federal court takeover that could be messy, expensive and lengthy unless the state takes steps to address legal and constitutional challenges."
Minn.'s aging population poses budget challenges (Associated Press)
"In 2020, Minnesotans older than 65 years will be a bigger share of the state population than those between 5 and 17 years old, creating future state budget pressures. And more retirees mean fewer income tax dollars will be coming in."
Senate committee considers film making fund (MPR News)
A Minnesota state Senate committee Monday approved a $10 million fund to boost film making in the state. The bill, a revival of a program that spurred film making more than a decade ago, would provide rebates for up to 25 percent of production costs.
Business groups were tops in lobbying spending in 2011
Groups spent $65 million to lobby Gov. Dayton's administration, the Legislature and metropolitan units of government in 2011, according to a new report from the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board.
The top five in lobbying spending were: Xcel Energy ($2.3 million), The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce ($2 million), the Minnesota Business Partnership ($980,000), Alliant Energy ($960,000) and the Minneapolis Radiation Oncology Physicians ($900,000), the report said.
Other big spenders included the Minnesota Vikings ($840,000), The MN AFL-CIO ($820,000), the Coalition of MN Businesses ($748,000) and the DFL-leaning group The Alliance for a Better Minnesota ($670,000). -- Tom Scheck(0 Comments)
Gov. Dayton's tax and budget proposals continue to grind their way through the Legislature. A rosier budget forecast has improved the state's financial picture, but deep divisions remain between DFL and GOP lawmakers.
DFL Senate leader Bakk: Lots of anxiety in the business community about biz to biz sales tax proposal.— MPR Politics (@MPRpolitics) March 5, 2013
GOP Sen. Hann: Biz to biz tax: When you have to add 5.5% on top of your fee it is a killer; MN businesses are going to lose out on contracts— MPR Politics (@MPRpolitics) March 5, 2013
DFL Sen. Bakk: Despite pushback on individual pieces of Gov's tax plan, "in totality" it's very popular with the public— MPR Politics (@MPRpolitics) March 5, 2013
DFL Sen. Bakk: States have different ways of collecting revenue; at day's end theper capita tax burden is petty much middle of the pack— MPR Politics (@MPRpolitics) March 5, 2013
GOP's Hann: MN will probably be in top 5 states re: taxes when governor gets done with us, econ cannot continue to sustain this tax level— MPR Politics (@MPRpolitics) March 5, 2013
Gun legislation debate
After weeks of contentious hearings over proposed gun legislation, lawmakers have pulled back from outright bans on some weapons. A compromise may be at hand but debate continues over exactly what steps to take.
GOP Sen. Hann: Not the votes for significant change on current gun laws, legal ownership of guns has not been a problem in MN— MPR Politics (@MPRpolitics) March 5, 2013
DFL Sen. Bakk: Re: gun legislation, I'd support background checks at gun shows but don't know if there's legislative support— MPR Politics (@MPRpolitics) March 5, 2013
Public money for Vikings stadium
State officials had hoped new electronic pull-tab games would deliver the public money required to help pay for a new Vikings stadium. Recent data, though, show the games have been slow to catch on and may generate only half the money projected.
Gov. Dayton has urged patience but questions linger about what, if anything, should be done.
GOP's Hann: Weak e-pull tabs $$ for Vikings stadium is problematic and Vikes better start thinking about how they come up with more money— MPR Politics (@MPRpolitics) March 5, 2013
DFL Sen. Bakk: Pull-tab public money concerns for stadium not the Vikings problem— MPR Politics (@MPRpolitics) March 5, 2013
On higher education, Gov. Dayton has proposed spending more, arguing in his recent State of the State speech that "every biennium since FY80-81, real state spending for all of posts econdary education has been higher than it is today."
GOP leaders, though, want to talk about how the schools spend their money Hann said he's been talking to University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler and other higher education officials about costs.
"If you build a cost structure so massive that it can't be sustained, then you have a problem" and that's higher education's problem.
GOP's Hann: Why have higher ed costs grown so dramatically? Faster than health costs. Higher ed leaders don't have good answer— MPR Politics (@MPRpolitics) March 5, 2013
Policast for March 5, 2013:
A proposal in the state House of Representatives would allocate Minnesota's electoral votes in a presidential election to the winner of the national popular vote.
It's a plan that nine states have already passed. But it will only take effect if states that control at least 270 electoral votes sign onto the measure.
DFL Rep. Steve Simon authored the bill in the House. He told MPR's Policast that it comes down to the simple proposition that the person who earns the most votes should win an election.
"The National Popular Vote provision would simply ensure that Minnesota does what it's entitled to do under the Constitution, which is the use the present Electoral College, not get rid of it, but use it to allocate our votes in a way that in concert with other states makes it clear that the number one vote-getter will be president of the United States," Simon said.
Simon argued that polls show most voters favor the direct election of presidents.
But Trent England, director of Save Our States Project of the Freedom Foundation, said the Electoral College has usually worked smoothly.
"The most important thing about the Electoral College is that it uses the states in a way that creates a basic requirement that you don't just win the White House with a raw majority vote total," England said on MPR's Policast. "It means that our politics over time have been much more national and I think much more moderate than it would have been in such a vast and diverse nation than if we just had a direct vote for president."
The national popular vote proposal was recommended to pass by the House Elections Committee. Its next stop will be a hearing on the House floor.
Policast is a daily roundup of Minnesota political news hosted by Mike Mulcahy and Cathy Wurzer. Subscribe on iTunes. The entire discussion about the Electoral College can be heard on the March 5, 2013 episode.(5 Comments)
A hearing on a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in Minnesota is expected to be held next week.
Rep. John Lesch, DFL-St. Paul, who chairs the House Civil Law Committee, said he intends to hold a hearing next Tuesday or Wednesday. Lesch said he expects the hearing to be extended into the evening to ensure that the public has ample opportunity to testify.
"My intent is to get all of the proponents and opponents on a list," Lesch said. "I will take proponents and opponents alternatively."
Lesch also said next week's hearing will be the only committee stop in the House. And even though the legislation has received plenty of media scrutiny, Lesch said he doesn't expect any fireworks because the issue received plenty of attention during the last election year.
"It's not one of those bills that came out of the blue upon which everyone have to get organized," Lesch said.
Voters defeated a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage last November.(7 Comments)