Dozens of bills will be up for discussion today as the rush intensifies to meet a Friday legislative deadline at the Capitol.
House DFL calls for income tax surcharge on wealthiest (MPR News)
"The Democrats' budget outline looks to raise taxes by roughly $2.4 billion to restore delayed payments to schools, erase a $627 million budget deficit and spend more on a variety of state programs."
Lakeville Sen. Dave Thompson considers run for governor ( Sun Thisweek)
"Thompson, assistant minority leader, said he has been encouraged to challenge Gov. Mark Dayton in 2014 by many business leaders and constituents. He plans to decide in the next several weeks."
House lawmakers ditch universal background checks (MPR News)
"A leading gun control supporter at the Minnesota Capitol said he is giving up on legislation that would require universal background checks for gun buyers."
State lawmakers again postpone decision on aiding St. Paul teacher pension fund (Pioneer Press)
"Lawmakers again delayed making a decision on whether to provide state aid to the St. Paul school district's pension fund. Sen. Sandra Pappas, DFL-St. Paul, said the proposals call for big changes and the lawmakers need more time."
Minn. taxpayers fund trips to tropical spots (KSTP)
"State records show 114 Minnesota Arts Board grants since 2009 went to artists who traveled to 40 countries and 20 states, spending $5.6 million with 15 percent of the trips overseas."
University lost money on stadium alcohol sales (Associated Press)
"The University of Minnesota lost almost $16,000 last year on alcohol sales at home football games, despite selling more than $900,000 worth of beer and wine."
Minn. ranks worst in Midwest for housing affordability (KMSP)
"It's estimated that 278,000 Minnesota households -- both renters and homeowners -- spend more than half of their income on housing, far beyond what they can afford."
Dayton slams NRA's 'bogus' gun arguments (MPR News)
"DFL Gov. Mark Dayton leveled some sharp criticism Tuesday against the National Rifle Association and its opposition to universal background checks on gun purchases."
Homeowners Bill of Rights under construction at Capitol (KSTP)
"A 'Homeowners Bill of Rights' to strengthen foreclosure protections for struggling homeowners in Minnesota is under construction at the Capitol and, like many remodeling jobs, this one is requiring compromise and patience."
Minnesota, Wisconsin frac sand mining rules differ widely (MPR News)
"Frac sand mining industry experts say Minnesota's environmental regulations are more stringent than Wisconsin's."
Assault weapons ban dropped from federal gun bill (Washington Post)0 Comments)
WASHINGTON - After shunning the media spotlight for months, Michele Bachmann's speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference has gotten plenty of media attention. The problem is, it's the not the kind of attention the 6th District Congresswoman was probably hoping for.
Proving once again that Bachmann's words are a full-employment act for professional fact checkers, Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post did a rare back-to-back fact check of two of Bachmann's statements from the speech, giving both his worst "four Pinocchio" rating.
One claim centered around accusations that President Barack Obama was living an excessively lavish lifestyle in the White House on the government's dime claiming, for example, that the White House has a staffer dedicated to walking Obama's dog, Bo. Not true, found Kessler, whose work suggests that the majority of the $1.4 billion spent annually on the White House goes to Secret Service protection and the presidential helicopter squadron.
"Moreover," Kessler continued, "the money spent on the presidency and the so-called perks she describes appear to be no different for Obama than for Bush or other presidents. It's absurd to suggest otherwise."
Bachmann's second claim was that 70 cents of every dollar spent on the food stamp program, "goes to benefit the bureaucrats in Washington, D.C."
Again, Kessler found the claim false, with budget documents showing that less than 6 percent of the program's spending goes to bureaucratic overhead.
"[T]here really aren't enough Pinocchios for such misleading use of statistics in a major speech," concluded Kessler.
Then, CNN found Bachmann in a Capitol hallway and tried to engage her on the claim's about Obama's lifestyle. Bachmann refused, instead insisting that correspondent Dana Bash was focusing on trivialities rather than Bachmann's criticism of Obama's response to the Benghazi, Libya terror attacks.(0 Comments)
Democrats in the Minnesota Senate have released their plan for erasing a $627 million budget deficit and making some new investments in key areas.
The Senate targets include $486 million in new spending for education and $463 million for tax aids and credits to cities and counties. Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said the education number includes a state buy-down of local property tax levies. Bakk said while House Democrats put a higher priority on paying back the school funding shift, the Senate DFL is putting a higher priority on property tax relief.
"I think we're both right. I think they're both very serious priorities for Minnesotans," Bakk said. "But we just didn't have enough money to do both, and the House didn't have enough money to do both."
Bakk said details of the Senate tax proposal have yet to be worked out. But he said income tax increases on top earners and a cigarette tax increase are certainties.
Senate Republicans quickly criticized the DFL plan.
Senate Minority Leader David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, said that Democrats are proposing job-killing tax increases.
"We should make sure every dollar the state takes is used efficiently and effectively before we ask Minnesotans to pay more," Hann said. "The Senate DFL budget includes zero reform and zero new ideas."
Here are the DFL targets:
Business interests and education groups spent the most on political lobbying efforts in Minnesota the past few years, data released today by the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board show.
Organizations have spent more than $420 million since 2006 to get their voices and positions heard before state government. Those numbers are expected to bump up as the last few dozen groups submit their reporting for 2012.
Here's a look at the biggest spenders reported to date for 2012 and the the top total spending since 2006.
To date 1,123 of the 1,287 organizations represented by lobbyists in Minnesota have submitted the required report, disclosing a total of about $54 million so far "to influence official actions during 2012 with about another $2.5 million to influence action by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission," the agency said.(0 Comments)