A steady jog on Friday turned into a full sprint as DFLers ramped up passing their major state budget bills over the weekend in order to get done before the legislative session ends on Monday.
By Saturday afternoon, DFLers had finished up with four omnibus budget bills — including the massive Health and Human Services compromise legislation — that are now on the way to Gov. Mark Dayton’s desk.
The other measures they have wrapped up are funding for jobs and economic development, the judiciary and higher education.
Democrats got into full swing with the budget Friday afternoon after facing criticism from Republicans that they were wasting time with such distractions as a failed effort to pass a bonding bill and action on a proposed constitutional amendment related to legislative pay.
Both the House and Senate are likely to work past midnight on other budget bills as they became available.
Many of the remaining conference committees — including transportation and taxes — are expected to come to an agreement Saturday evening, clearing a path for Democrats to finish their work with little time to spare.
Those two conference committee reports represent key and controversial measures, including roughly $2 billion in tax hikes — the “linchpin” of the Democrats’ budget deal — and a potential gas tax at a time when fuel prices are at a record high in Minnesota.
On Saturday afternoon, the Senate approved the Health and Human Services omnibus bill, the second-largest budget bill lawmakers have to deal with. The measure, which cleared the House Friday evening, covers nearly one-third of Minnesota’s state general fund budget.
Lawmakers in the Senate quickly moved to smaller policy bills while the House debated funding for state pension programs, which the Senate had passed on Friday.
The House and Senate were also working on a number of smaller bills as they waited for conference committee reports to become available.
House Majority Leader Erin Murphy said that lawmakers in her chamber would consider the E-12 education and agriculture and environment bills on Saturday in a push to hear as many budget bills as possible before taking up a controversial unionization measure covering many child-care providers and personal care attendants.
Republicans debated the unionization measure in the Senate for a record 17 hours, and GOP representatives had filed more than 100 amendments to the bill in the House, which points to an extremely lengthy debate.
MinnPost photo by James NordPro- and anti-union activists demonstrated outside of the House chamber on Saturday as the body was set to discuss a unionization bill for many child-care workers and personal care attendants.
Demonstrators rallied outside of the House chamber both for and against the unionization measure as lawmakers inside pushed on with their work. The chants and cheering were reminiscent of the gay marriage debate that filled the Capitol over the past week.
There’s also a chance the House could take up bills related to elections and campaign finance, Murphy said, in order to tackle as much as possible before the unionization vote. Once the E-12 education bill passes, the House will have passed the vast majority of the state’s general fund spending.
Speaker Paul Thissen, who took a break from the House floor to pick up a Diet Coke and a couple slices of pizza, said the House would likely go through the night, take a break for lawmakers to attend religious services, and reconvene midday Sunday.
It’s unclear exactly how Democrats will address complications related to the unionization vote if they arise. DFL leaders in the House demurred when asked if they would use their majority status to limit debate if it stretches on into Sunday.
“I hope that we are able to have a debate … in this body that is about the policy and our differences and not use that bill as a tool to try and slow down the work of the Legislature,” Murphy said.
But on Friday, it was the Republicans who were criticizing the Democrats for being too slow. DFLers dealt with two controversial measures that Republicans latched onto: legislative pay and a bonding bill.
Democrats used their majority to pass a bill asking citizens to change the constitution to establish a citizen council to establish legislator pay.
MinnPost photo by James NordRep. Mary Murphy speaks Saturday on the House floor about the pension omnibus bill.
“Can you tell me why this is such a priority right now before we take up budget bills?” House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt asked, expressing similar concerns about the borrowing legislation.
Lacking Republican support, House DFLers fell short of the 60 percent vote required to pass an $800 million bonding bill.
Rep. Alice Hausman, the bonding bill’s chief House sponsor, told her colleagues that the Friday vote was their only chance to pass a bonding bill this session and to keep renovation of the crumbling state Capitol on track.
She told reporters shortly after the measure failed that it was a “tragic” scenario, and it appeared that a full bonding bill would be nearly impossible to resurrect before the Monday adjournment deadline.
But Senate President Sandy Pappas told MinnPost on Saturday afternoon that the Senate was serious about pursuing a pared-down bonding bill that includes the Capitol renovations and a few other projects.
“We’ve got to do the Capitol,” she said, standing outside of the Senate chambers as the floor session busily commenced. “It’s very serious.”
While Hausman had said there was no ‘Plan B’ before Friday’s vote in the House, Pappas said, “I think there was always a backup.”
Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk has been adamant that the Capitol renovations move forward this session, and he even included the restorations in the Senate’s tax plan to lift the project above the bonding bill’s political fray.
Hausman appeared surprised that a bonding bill, which must originate in the House, might again be on the table. The Democrat from St. Paul said she was unsure if she would be part of the process.
Bonding-oriented Republicans in the House and Senate also appeared skeptical that a borrowing bill would pass before Monday. Rep. Matt Dean, the lead capital investment Republican in the House, wouldn't clearly address if his caucus would support a smaller, Capitol-focused bill.
“It would depend on communication and negotiation, but our first priority is the budget obviously,” he said.
Thissen said a bonding bill do-over was the subject of some thought but recognized tensions between the House and Senate.
“I think there’s a difference of opinion about it,” he said.
There have been only two moments in my life when I have had chills run up and down my body from pure excitement. The first time was on my wedding day when I looked my spouse in the eyes and took a vow of love in front of my closest friends and family. The other time was this past Tuesday at the Capitol.
As I watched Gov. Mark Dayton sign marriage equality into Minnesota state law, I felt an overwhelming amount of love and admiration for LGBTQ families, allies, legislators,and the grassroots campaigns that made this day possible. I am enormously grateful to claim homage to a state that showed such persistence and empathy. I do have to say, though, that I'm sorry that it took so long.
Those chills that I had at the Capitol will hopefully be chills that other brides and grooms will feel on their wedding day, regardless of whoever is on the other end of the aisle. When my children get married, I will never have to worry about them being unjustly discriminated against because their love may not fit into a certain definition. I witnessed a wondrous and perfect day on Tuesday because we finally said to our LGBTQ community, "Your love is beautiful."
As I stood cheering on speakers on our Capitol's steps, I saw a same-sex couple rejoice and embrace each other. Their love was written on their faces and bursting from their exuberant smiles. I heard her whisper to her partner, "I love you and have loved you for 12 years. Now we can have a lifetime. Officially." That was the moment that gave me chills. That was the moment I finally felt like Minnesota was an equal state.
The FBI is investigating complaints of alleged campaign finance violations in Rep. Michele Bachmann's presidential campaign.
The FBI joins the Office of Congressional Ethics, the Federal Elections Commission and an Iowa state Senate ethics committee in probing whether Bachmann's presidential campaign paid an Iowa state senator from her MichelePAC, a fund that should not have been used for campaign expenses, and whether the state senator stole the email list of an Iowa home-school group from another Bachmann staffer, Barbara Hekki, prior to the Iowa caucuses in January, 2012.
Andy Parrish, former Bachmann chief of staff and one of the directors of Bachmann's Iowa GOP presidential campaign, will be interviewed by the FBI, according to his attorney, John Gilmore.
"I can confirm that Andy Parrish has been contacted by the FBI for a scheduled interview next week," Gilmore said. "He will cooperate fully."
Parrish has filed an affidavit with the Iowa ethics committee stating that state Sen. Kent Sorenson was paid for his work on the Bachmann presidential campaign through a fundraising firm that had ties to MichelePAC.
The entry of the FBI into the investigation raises the possibility that there were potential criminal violations. In addition to the alleged theft of the home-school list, the FBI is said to be looking into the campaign's demand that certain former employees, whose pay was withheld at the end of the campaign, sign non-disclosure agreements before receiving their compensation.
It's a tried-and-true topic here — the differences between the two non-identical Twins. Familiar truisms abound — St. Paul is more tradition-minded, more respectful of its past, more Catholic, more "Eastern" (as in possessing neighborhoods, like Cathedral Hill, that put you in mind of Boston's South End). Minneapolis is more "Western" — more Denverish — more Lutheran, more restless and trendy.OAS_AD("Middle");
There's some truth to this set of contrasts, as well as some overemphases and some strong emerging counter-trends. We thought that it might be interesting to get a food-business point of view on this perennial topic, so we asked owners and managers at three locally based restaurants with locations in both St. Paul and Minneapolis how the two towns were different, from a foodie's perspective.
No Twin Cities restaurateur, of course, would ever tell a reporter which city he or she likes better; it's like asking which of their kids they like better — and it's commercial suicide too. But people in charge at three major both-city establishments — the venerable Fuji-Ya, which pioneered Japanese cuisine here decades ago, and hip newcomers Barrio and Black Sheep Coal Fired Pizza — were willing to lay out both familiar and surprising contrasts.The big welcome mat
It goes without saying that both cities want new businesses and do their best to make it as easy as possible to open them. None of the restaurateurs had anything bad to say about the process in either city. But there are differences between the two, and one of them was the availability of space. Ryan Burnet, the owner and developer of all three Barrio restaurants, found it much harder to find a space in Minneapolis than in St. Paul, because the market was considerably tighter.Photo by Bill KelleyRyan Burnet is the owner and developer of all three Barrio restaurants.
"I heard through a friend of a friend that the Dunn Brothers was closing, and I approached the landlord for that space," Burnet says. By contrast, the owner of the building that houses Barrio's Lowertown location reached out to Burnet.
He also found that while Minneapolis was entirely accommodating, St. Paul was downright giddy. "Mayor Coleman's and the city's eagerness was apparent from the start," he says. Coleman even visited during the new restaurant's first week.
Jordan Smith, owner and chef for Black Sheep Coal Fired Pizza, had compliments for St. Paul's licensing process as well.
"You sit down at a table with mechanical, zoning, and the inspector at the same time, and any issues get discussed and talked through in planning," Smith says. "We had a great experience with Minneapolis too, but that was really slick."Extra cheese in St. Paul
All three restaurants have largely similar if not identical food menus at both locations, and considerably overlapping drink menus as well, which suggests that tastes aren't different enough between the cities to warrant the operational variations of offering separate menus. Specialty dishes created by individual chefs make for some variation between Barrio's and Fuji-Ya's restaurants, and the Lowertown Barrio has a popular taco bar that Minneapolis doesn't have room for.Photo by Bill KelleyBlack Sheep's Jordan Smith
Smith says he has detected one difference in what actually moves: "People order extra cheese a lot more in St. Paul," he says.
More differences show in drinks. DeAnna Louks, district manager for Fuji-Ya, runs both its St. Paul and Minneapolis locations, and the two restaurants have distinct drink menus.
"There are things in St. Paul that do not sell as well as they do in Minneapolis," Louks says. "We have 40 kinds of sake at the Minneapolis restaurant and 5 at the St. Paul." The wine list is also more esoteric in Minneapolis, Louks explains.
There's a difference in beer at Black Sheep in St. Paul, where a lot more craft beers sell than in Minneapolis. But the difference may be due less to geography than to configuration. The St. Paul location is larger, Smith says, which allows for more bar seating — 18 seats, as opposed to 7 in Minneapolis. Its manager also happens to be a beer aficionado.Different energies
With a more traditional food like pizza, Smith is the most likely candidate to spot a more traditional vibe at his St. Paul location than Minneapolis. And not surprisingly, he does. There are regulars at both restaurants, he explains, but that vibe shows up more in the energy of starting a place than of maintaining it.
"Minneapolis is a high-energy place where, when there's a new restaurant, everybody flocks to it," Smith says. "In St. Paul, everyone wants to try it — but not everybody's willing to leave where they've been going regularly. On the other hand, once you get them, you've got them."
Louks notes that different types of crowds make for different energies at both Fuji-Ya's, but that can be explained in part by the locations of the restaurants. The Minneapolis Fuji-Ya is at the corner of Lyndale and Lake, in a diverse neighborhood of all ages and ethnicities. The St. Paul restaurant, on the other hand, sits across the street from the Fitzgerald Theater, which means a lot of theater-going traffic that spills over or starts at Fuji-Ya. That crowd is likely to be older (and possibly a bit less experimental) than Minneapolis eaters.Photo by Bill KelleyDeAnna Louks, district manager for Fuji-Ya, runs both its St. Paul and Minneapolis locations.
"We get a lot of business folks for lunch and happy hour in St. Paul, but in Minneapolis we get more of the disposable-income younger crowd," Louks says.Look out, Minneapolis?
St. Paul has long had the reputation of being a sleepier town than Minneapolis, and foodies in both towns could be forgiven for thinking that the traffic would usually be heavier at Minneapolis eateries. But all three restaurateurs we talked to had St. Paul locations that do as much or more business than their Minneapolis counterparts.
St. Paul's downtown and Lowertown areas have been booming for years, and the Xcel Energy Center has driven plenty of it. Burnet says that the Lowertown Barrio also has to staff up during other events that St. Paul brings in, like Crashed Ice. "They do a lot of big events on a large scale that help out the bars in the area," he says.
The proposed 7,250-seat St. Paul Saints stadium, which is currently scheduled to be built in Lowertown at the old Diamond Products site by 2015, is likely to keep that boom going. All three restaurateurs say that the traffic in their St. Paul locations is heavy and likely to get heavier. "Minneapolis has more sales now, but that might not be the case in a few years," Burnet says, citing the proposed stadium.
"Minneapolis is busier right now, but it's a more mature business," Smith says. "We're ahead of our projections, which were very aggressive, in St. Paul, and I expect that St. Paul will eventually have more traffic than Minneapolis."
Although the St. Paul location is one-third the size of the Minneapolis one, Fuji-Ya's Louks explains that it punches above its weight. "The Fitzgerald expanded its theater season to the summer, so nine out of 10 days, St. Paul is actually busier," she says.
This article is reprinted in partnership with The Line, an online chronicle of Twin Cities creativity in entrepreneurship, culture, retail, placemaking, the arts, and other elements of the new creative economy.
In the May 13 Karen Boros article "Minneapolis political upheaval signals possible major change at City Hall," University of Minnesota Professor Larry Jacobs is quoted as saying “the idea that voters are going to have a detailed understanding of a number of candidates, that they’re going to be able to rank them, exceeds any research I’ve ever seen about voter knowledge.” He calls the idea that more than a quarter or third of voters will rank multiple candidates “just unrealistic.”
I’m not sure what basis Jacobs has for this assertion, but he’s not backed up by reality. And the reality is not hard to find: Just look at the results of the 2009 ranked-choice election in Minneapolis.
A few races went to a second or later round in that election, including Ward 4. Of the 832 people who voted for one of the third- and fourth-place candidates or write-ins, 525 had a second choice counted. That’s 63 percent.
Ward 5 also went to a second round. Of the 498 people who voted for one of the candidates who got the fewest votes or write-ins, 352 had a second choice counted. That’s 71 percent.Multiple rounds for Park Board At-Large race
The Park Board At-Large race went to multiple rounds. Of the 36,613 people who had a first choice in that race, 24,957 had at least a second choice. That’s 68 percent.
And it’s not just the races that went to second rounds. A quick look at the Secretary of State’s website shows that for the 13 City Council races, Park Board At-Large, and Mayor, only one race (Cam Gordon’s re-election as Council Member for Ward 2) had fewer than one-third as many second choice votes as first-choice votes.
These data point to a completely different and more interesting model of voter intelligence than Jacobs’s. Indeed, it seems that voters’ choices about whether to use their second-choice rankings were sophisticated and context-sensitive. Were there more than two candidates in a given race? If so, more folks used their second-choices. Was the winner the runaway favorite? If so, fewer voters used their second choices.Compare Ward 2 with Ward 5 races
Look at the difference between Ward 2, where a popular incumbent was headed for a landslide victory against a little-known challenger, and there were only two candidates on the ballot, versus Ward 5, where the incumbent was up against a former council member and three other candidates.
In the former case, only 20 percent of voters used their second choice, and this was an understandable decision: Council Member Gordon was extremely likely to win and there was no one similar on the ballot. In the latter case, 71 percent of voters used their second choice, and again this decision made sense: It was a real race, and the anti-incumbent candidates had strong crossover support.
So, to recap: Jacobs says that it’s “just unrealistic” to expect that more than 25-33 percent of voters will rank more than one candidate, based on unspecified research he has seen. But the actual data from an actual recent Minneapolis election contradict this assertion, showing that 63-70 percent of voters whose first choice was not elected had a second choice on their ballot, and it was counted. Of the 13 City Council races, 10 saw second-choice usage of 50 percent or greater.
It’s not as if the sources of these data are difficult to find. They are on the City of Minneapolis and Minnesota Secretary of State’s websites. There’s no need to hypothesize about voter behavior in ranked-choice elections in Minneapolis – just look at the data.
Robin Garwood is a policy aide to Second Ward Council Member Cam Gordon and a board member of FairVote Minnesota.WANT TO ADD YOUR VOICE?
If you're interested in joining the discussion, add your voice to the Comment section below — or consider writing a letter or a longer-form Community Voices commentary. (For more information about Community Voices, email Susan Albright at email@example.com.)
from Wry Wing Politics by Joe Loveland
…of all the things that DFLers could do to impress Minnesota the swing voters who will determine in 2014 which party remains in control of the Legislature, I submit that the most memorable and impressive achievement would be to adjourn early.The co-conspirators in undermining Minnesota’s future
from NextMinnesota by Tom Horner
Ultimately, the bottom line is this: “Tax the rich” and “no new taxes” may make great campaign slogans, but they are terrible platforms for economic growth. Both parties are complicit in selling out Minnesota’s future.OAS_AD("Middle");The good fight wins
from Barataria by Erik Hare
It’s a remarkable achievement for this state, the 12th in the US to do so, but the two year path from despair to elation is a fantastic story too intricate to tell here. But one thing can certainly be said of this story: It was one of the biggest political goofs in history – and if we learn from it this could be a turning point.Minnesota celebrates the freedom to get married
from Thoughtful Bastards by Paul Udstrand
On May 14th 2013 love became the law in Minnesota. At 5:00 Governor Mark Dayton signed the marriage equity law establishing marriage rights for gays and lesbians. Thousands attended the signing on the Capital steps and then marched in a parade to the Ecolab Plaza in Downtown St. Paul.Communicating with the Alzheimer’s person
from Dating Dementia by Nancy Wurtzel
My mother is trying to communicate. I’ve been with her for almost two hours on this bright spring morning, and during my visit she keeps trying to tell me something. She’s unable to find the words.Minnesota kome birding 2013
from Macaroni by John Toren
One result of the retarded spring of 2013 has been a very good birding season. The little feathered creatures have been moving through in bunches and they’re easier to spot than usual, due to the delayed leafing out. I’ve already logged 120 species, and our annual Mid-May birding weekend still lies ahead. I’m not counting the mockingbirds, Carolina chickadees, Eastern towhees, and worm-eating warblers we saw in Tennessee. This is Minnesota stuff.Fun team sports for adults
from I Think I Can Fitness by Alicen Ronan
Remember when you were younger and used to play fun team sports? Think about how great it felt running around, being part of a team and having a great time. You can recapture some of that youthful fun and reap the benefits of fitness at the same time through participating in a team sport for adults.
If you blog and would like your work considered for Minnesota Blog Cabin, please submit our registration form.
Three days after the attacks of 9/11/2001, Congress passed the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF).
It authorized then-Pres. Bush to use all "necessary and appropriate force" against those whom he determined "planned, authorized, committed or aided" the 9/11 attacks, or those who "harbored" those responsible for 9/11.
At a Senate committee hearing yesterday, Sen. Lindsay Graham wanted to make sure that the Pentagon and military leaders believe the AUMF still gives them all the authority and discretion they need to bomb or send troops into any country in which Al Qaida might have a presence without any further action from Congress
Yes, the Pentagon officials replied. Syrian, Yemen and the Congo were mentioned as examples of countries into which the AUMF would authorize them to take lethal action or send troops without any new congressional action.
Michael Sheehan, assistant secretary of defense for special operations/low-intensity conflict, said that "the enemy determines" where the battlefield exists, that the AUMF would be sufficient to authorize military action anywhere. He estimated this power and discretion, under the existing 12-year-old authorization, should be good for at least another "10 or 20 years."
Sen. Graham said that he agreed and he was glad to hear that the Pentagon viewed the situation that way.
Sen. Angus King, the independent from Maine, seemed shocked. He said:
SEN. KING: Gentlemen, I’ve only been here five months, but this is the most astounding and most astoundingly disturbing hearing that I’ve been to since I’ve been here. You guys have essentially rewritten the Constitution here today. The Constitution, Article I, Section 8, Clause 11, clearly says that the Congress has the power to declare war.
This—this authorization, the AUMF, is very limited. And you keep using the term "associated forces." You use it 13 times in your statement. That is not in the AUMF. And you said at one point, "It suits us very well." I assume it does suit you very well, because you’re reading it to cover everything and anything. And then you said, at another point, "So, even if the AUMF doesn’t apply, the general law of war applies, and we can take these actions."
So, my question is: How do you possibly square this with the requirement of the Constitution that the Congress has the power to declare war? This is one of the most fundamental divisions in our constitutional scheme, that the Congress has the power to declare war; the president is the commander-in-chief and prosecutes the war. But you’re reading this AUMF in such a way as to apply clearly outside of what it says.
Senator McCain was absolutely right: It refers to the people who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks on September 11. That’s a date. That’s a date. It doesn’t go into the future. And then it says, "or harbored such organizations"—past tense—"or persons in order to prevent any future acts by such nations, organizations or persons." It established a date.
I don’t disagree that we need to fight terrorism. But we need to do it in a constitutionally sound way. Now, I’m just a little, old lawyer from Brunswick, Maine, but I don’t see how you can possibly read this to be in comport with the Constitution and authorize any acts by the president. You had testified to Senator Graham that you believe that you could put boots on the ground in Yemen now under this—under this document. That makes the war powers a nullity. I’m sorry to ask such a long question, but my question is: What’s your response to this? Anybody?
MICHAEL SHEEHAN: Senator, let me take the first response. I’m not a constitutional lawyer or a lawyer of any kind. But let me talk to you a little—take a brief statement about al-Qaida and the organization that attacked us on September 11, 2001. In the two years prior to that, Senator King, that organization attacked us in East Africa and killed 17 Americans in our embassy in Nairobi, with loosely affiliated groups of people in East Africa. A year prior to 9/11, that same organization, with its affiliates in Yemen, almost sunk a U.S. ship, the U.S.S. Cole, a billion-dollar warship, killed 17 sailors in the port of Aden. The organization that attacked us on 9/11 already had its tentacles in—around the world with associated groups. That was the nature of the organization then; it is the nature of the organization now. In order to attack that organization, we have to attack it with those affiliates that are its operational arm that have previously attacked and killed Americans, and at high-level interests, and continue to try to do that.
SEN. KING: That’s fine, but that’s not what the AUMF says. You can—you can—what I’m saying is, we may need new authority, but don’t—if you expand this to the extent that you have, it’s meaningless, and the limitation in the war power is meaningless. I’m not disagreeing that we need to attack terrorism wherever it comes from and whoever is doing it. But what I’m saying is, let’s do it in a constitutional way, not by putting a gloss on a document that clearly won’t support it. It just—it just doesn’t—it just doesn’t work. I’m just reading the words. It’s all focused on September 11 and who was involved, and you guys have invented this term "associated forces" that’s nowhere in this document. As I mentioned, in your written statement, you use that—that’s the key term. You use it 13 times. It’s the justification for everything. And it renders the war powers of the Congress null and void. I don’t understand. I mean, I do understand you’re saying we don’t need any change, because the way you read it, you can—you could do anything. But why not say—come back to us and say, "Yes, you’re correct that this is an overbroad reading that renders the war powers of the Congress a nullity; therefore, we need new authorization to respond to the new situation"? I don’t understand why—I mean, I do understand it, because the way you read it, there’s no limit. But that’s not what the Constitution contemplates.
There's video and a bit more of the transcript of the exchange, from Democracy Now!, right here.
What else were they going to do with the summer? Brett Neely of MPR says: “Members of Minnesota's U.S. House delegation are preparing for a long, hot summer of investigating the Internal Revenue Service over its scrutiny of conservative groups. … First District DFL Rep. Tim Walz said he was outraged to learn about the IRS' activities and believes the agency needs to be investigated. But he said many Republican-driven investigations, such as the hearings into the Benghazi, Libya embassy terror attacks that have focused on the White House's talking points about the attacks, have given congressional oversight a bad name. ‘When Congress now has to exert its oversight authority, it's been so politicized and downsized everybody sees it as, 'Oh, it's another witch hunt or whatever.' Well sometimes there's witches,’ Walz said.”
Bill Salisbury’s PiPress reporting on the last details of the budget deal … “The bill would raise about $2 billion over the next two years. Republicans said the tax increase is unnecessary and will hit more than the wealthy and smokers. ‘Every Minnesotan will pay more under this tax bill, and unfortunately it's going to harm Minnesota's economy and hurt job growth in the state,’ said House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown. [Speaker Paul] Thissen said the additional tax revenue would wipe out the state's projected $627 million budget deficit and enable DFLers to increase spending on education, job creation and property tax relief — the issues they campaigned on last year. Dayton said 36 percent of the new revenue would go to education, 31 percent to deficit reduction, 20 percent to property tax relief and 5 percent for economic development and housing.” Or in other words, "wasteful government spending."
Pity the poor gypsy moth … The AP reports: “Officials will set more than 14,000 gypsy moth traps across Minnesota this spring as part of the state's annual monitoring program for the destructive tree pest. Gypsy moth caterpillars eat the leaves of many trees and shrubs. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture says they favor oak, poplar, birch and willow. Severe, repeated infestations can kill trees, especially when they're already stressed by drought.”
Beware the sesame paste … In the Strib, Paul Walsh says, “Two infants in Minnesota have fallen ill with salmonella poisoning after eating a brand of sesame paste that is the subject of a recall, state officials said Friday. State health and agriculture officials are directing consumers to not eat Krinos brand tahini from the affected lots and sizes. The product should be thrown out and the lid from the product returned to Krinos for a refund, the officials added. The product was recalled April 28 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after the Michigan Department of Agriculture found salmonella in routine sampling.”
Walsh again, with a classic car scam … “A onetime Iron Range businessman faces two criminal charges for a three-year scheme that swindled classic car buffs out of $1 million with false promises to restore their vintage vehicles. Edwin S. Verdung, 26, was charged Tuesday in federal court in St. Paul with wire fraud and money laundering … From April 2007 through May 2010, Edwin Verdung was paid money by people in the market for classic cars or who brought their own vehicles into the shop to be restored or rebuilt. However, he allegedly failed to provide the vehicles or the restoration services as promised. In some instances, he represented falsely that he had made progress in the work. The younger Verdung also required some customers to make ‘progress’ payments, providing them with bogus photographs of the restoration in progress.”
From his “Good Question” segment last night, WCCO-TV’s Jason DeRusha has this: “Dave Johnson from Owatonna: Why do they shut down several refineries at the same time? Different companies own those refineries, and right now it would be against anti-trust laws to coordinate like that. If you knew that two refineries were going to do maintenance, you might stockpile and take advantage of the higher price, according to [Jake] Reint from Flint Hills. ‘If you know the markets going to be short a certain number of barrels, you’d have a huge issue,’ Reint said. He said the equipment is set up to do maintenance on a part of the facility while continuing to produce gasoline from other parts of the operation. ‘It’s a very competitive marketplace, and there are serious anti-trust rules. We don’t know what other refineries are doing,’ said Reint.” But it would seem to offer an easy windfall … if you somehow, someway did know.
It’s pay and bonding talk at the Legislature today. The AP writes: “The Minnesota House is planning to vote on a constitutional amendment that would take decisions about their own pay out of their hands. The House planned a Friday debate on the amendment, as well as a bonding bill for construction projects across the state — including a fix for the crumbling Capitol building. If the amendment is put on the 2014 ballot and passed by voters, it would create a legislative pay council appointed by the governor and the chief justice of the Supreme Court. The governor and chief justice would each appoint one member from each of the state's eight congressional districts. Membership would have to be split equally between the two political parties, and could not include current or former legislators.” Right. And how much would we pay the pay council?
Remember the snail darter … On his “Stadium Watch” blog, MPR’s Tim Nelson reports: “Football fans were reveling over the design of the new Vikings stadium this week, but bird watchers remain skeptical. Glass, they say, kills birds. And it looks like there’s a LOT of glass on that new stadium. Minnesota DNR Regional Environmental Assessment Ecologist Melissa Doperalski noted the potential for bird strikes at the new stadium: ‘The DNR would like to encourage project designers to consider bird friendly building designs that would help to reduce the potential for a bird collision to occur,’ Doperalski wrote to the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority. Is the new stadium design ‘bird friendly’? That remains to be seen. As Tom Fisher, the dean of the College of Design at the University of Minnesota noted on Monday, the new stadium may have the largest transparent doors and roof in the world. It also seems to have another potentially dangerous feature for birds — glass on both ends of the building, offering the illusion that they can fly all the way through it.” Note to self … buy stock in industrial netting company.
Someone ran the stopwatch so you didn’t have to. Sarah Karlan of BuzzFeed tells us that FoxNews spent … excuse me, let me turn my calculator app on … 44 seconds … covering Minnesota’s gay marriage bill signing. Lefty, socialist, Obama-licking MSNBC? 37 minutes 31 seconds.
WASHINGTON — The House Transportation Committee voted Thursday to send a Keystone XL pipeline authorization bill to the floor, likely reviving, for the first time this session, one of the biggest partisan policy battles of the last two years.
The Republican-backed bill would fast-track the oil pipeline project by taking the permitting process out of the Obama administration’s hands, potentially unhinging it from a State Department environmental impact assessment that has delayed the project. Transportation Committee Democrats warned that in bypassing the permitting process, the bill would remove important environmental safeguards, so most of them, including Minnesota Rep. Rick Nolan, voted against the bill.
The National Republican Congressional Committee called hypocrisy, releasing a short video showing Nolan telling constituents he supports the pipeline. “Lying to constituents?” an NRCC spokeswoman said in a statement. “That’s not Minnesota nice.”
Nolan said in a statement that he does support the project and believes “Keystone will be approved in a safe and responsible manner.” But he echoed other Democratic criticisms of the GOP’s bill:
“I have always maintained that Keystone must abide by the normal permitting process for construction, maintenance, environmental regulations, tax liability and clean-up policies. The same rules and regulations by which U.S. corporations must abide. The bill as presented would permanently exempt a foreign corporation from all U.S. environmental regulations and requirements to pay for any oil spill cleanup. By abandoning all of the laws necessary to maintain the pipeline in a safe way, the bill would invite companies to save money by abandoning normal protections and safeguards, and lead to reckless construction and maintenance. All in all, it is a recipe for disaster.”
This is a pretty minor dust-up between the NRCC and one its old targets, but it’s also a preview of the type of politicking likely to come from a new congressional fight over Keystone. The Republican bill is likely to come to House floor next week, so expect to see Keystone politics ramp up rather quickly.
The pipeline is slated to run oil from Alberta’s tar sands to the Gulf Coast in Texas. Republicans have long called the project a jobs engine, though there is some debate over what its economic impact would actually be.
Devin Henry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Former St. Paul City Council Member Debbie Montgomery said Friday she's definitely running to get her Ward 1 seat back, even though she's concerned about "convoluted endorsement" procedures.
Montgomery, a retired St. Paul Police commander, was the incumbent in 2007 but was beaten by Melvin Carter III. Montgomery didn't run two years ago, when Carter easily won re-election, but now Carter will step down in July to take a state education job.
Four other candidates have officially announced runs for the seat, too:
- Kazoua Kong-Thao, a former school board member
- Johnny Howard, who ran against Carter two years ago
- Noel Nix, Carter's council aide
- Dai Thao, an IT manager who's worked on progressive causes
Montgomery said this morning that she's navigating the issues involving endorsements as she plans her campaign, but said definitely: "I am running."
She said she'll campaign on helping individuals and families in her ward, which is being transformed by the light rail line.
"When we move families forward, we move the city forward," she said.
The race will be run in the city's ranked-choice voting system, where voters can designate their first, second, third or more choices for the seat. In a contested race, like this is turning out to be, it's likely that no candidate will get 50 percent of the vote in the first round, so those second and third choice designations may prove decisive.
Montgomery said she's hearing from some residents that they don't understand the ranked-choice system, so education will be important before the November election.
"There seems to be a lack of understanding of how it works," she said. "A lot of communities of color, in particular, don't understand it. We'll need a whole lot of training on it."
Carter leaves the council July 5, less then halfway through his second term, to become director of the state's Office of Early Learning.
Gov. Mark Dayton and DFL legislative leaders came together Thursday on major elements of a tax compromise -- a deal that raises some fascinating economic and political questions.
The package includes Dayton’s plan to raise taxes on Minnesotans in the upper 2 percent of income, establishing a new top tax rate of 9.85 percent on taxable income of more than $150,000 for individual filers and $250,000 for couples. That would give Minnesota the fourth-highest tax rate in the nation.
The latest version of the tax bill also includes a $1.60-a-pack increase in the state cigarette tax but no increase in liquor taxes. It also includes provisions intended to hold down local property taxes.
Business groups vigorously oppose the income tax increase, saying it will harm 20,000 small business owners who pay individual income taxes on their business income. They also worry about its impact on Minnesota’s ability to attract and retain business, and on the ability of corporations to recruit higher-wage managers and professionals. But the governor and DFL legislative leaders remain unconvinced.
If the two houses go along, Minnesota will test competing theories about how business executives make locational decisions – about whether they care more about taxes or the quality of education, workforce training and other services the state provides. The answer most likely varies depending on the type of enterprise, but the bottom line is that both factors are important.
Interestingly, House DFLers on Thursday abandoned their proposal to levy a surcharge on the state’s wealthiest residents – on top of the new top tax rate – and pay back the remaining $860 million from the school aid shift used to help balance previous state budgets. Instead, they’ll go along with the governor’s plan to repay the shift in four years rather than two.
Repaying the shift had been a major issue used by DFLers in the last campaign. But the fact is that it is largely an accounting fix. It won’t give school districts one additional dollar to pay teachers, fund all-day kindergarten and or meet other needs. For schools – and for DFLers – it’s far more important to put more money into the school aid formula, as they plan to do.
As legislators race toward Monday’s midnight deadline for adjournment, there still is a game of high-stakes poker -- with potentially big political consequences -- being played on other issues. They include:Minimum wage
House DFLers want to increase the state minimum wage from $6.15 an hour to $9.50, while Senate DFLers say they’d rather go home without an increase than go beyond $7.75. An increase in the minimum wage is a top priority of organized labor, and my bet is that a deal still will get done.Stadium funding
Every day, there seems to be a new proposal to plug the hole in the $977 million stadium funding plan that was caused by a major shortfall in revenues from electronic pull tabs. Dayton pushed hard for the stadium last session and has the most to lose if the funding plan falters. So he’s likely to win some kind of fix – even if it means diverting revenues that would otherwise go into the state’s general fund and help meet other state needs.Transportation funding
Transit advocates still are pushing for a half-cent increase in the existing quarter-cent metro sales tax for transit, which they argue is critical to going forward with the Southwest Corridor light-rail transit (LRT) project and continuing to expand the regional transit system. The Senate has coupled the transit tax increase with a nickel-a-gallon increase in the gasoline tax, which is dedicated for highways. But the governor and House members – both up for re-election next year – won’t go along. This still looks like a long shot.Work to be done
So, as always, legislative leaders have left an enormous amount of work to be completed in the final several days of the session. This will mean some long nights during which members get tired, cranky and prone to missteps. It also means that members of the Republican minority will have opportunities to erect obstacles and slow things down.
Whether Minnesota state government is controlled by Republicans, DFLers or a combination of the two, the concluding days of any legislative session inevitably are messy.
The House, Senate and governor have institutional differences that influence their agendas and decision-making. The governor and members of the Senate have four-year terms that permit longer-term thinking, while House members always are looking to the next election.
The governor has a statewide constituency, while the Legislature represents a collection of smaller constituencies – urban and rural, fully-developed and fast-growing suburbs, regional centers and small towns with one traffic light.
There’s also the influence of testosterone levels in this still male-dominated system of government. These folks all are very competitive and they all want to win. I remember talking to a succession of House DFLers who served on the school aid conference committee in the 1970s and ‘80s, and all of them vowed never again to sit across the table from their Senate DFL counterparts.
Suffice it to say, if the closing days of the legislative session were an Olympic ice-skating event, the judges would not be awarding a lot of “style” points.
Ramsey County officials say that demolition has begun on old buildings at the Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant property in Arden Hills and warn that old buildings and live electrical wires can be a hazard.
So, they say: No trespassing. It's dangerous out there.
This is the old ammunition plant site that was once considered a location for a new Vikings stadium.
But now, the county is cleaning up the 427-acre site to prepare it for possible other non-Vikings development.
Ramsey County spokesman Art Coulson says trespassing has been a problem at the site for some time, although not so much since the county took possession.
But, he said, "it's particularly dangerous now that demolition has begun in earnest."
The plan is to sell the site, once it's been cleaned up, for development of a mix of residential, commercial, light industrial and other uses. The project will clean up the state’s largest Superfund site, officials said.
Meanwhile, nearby highway improvements to Interstate 35W, I-694, Highway 10, Highway 96 and other roadways are under way to improve access to the site and benefit 240,000 commuters per day.
As anyone who found themselves singing “Love Is the Law” in downtown St. Paul Tuesday night — live and in person or virtually — there is nothing quite so medicinal, in an old-school tiger-balm way of the soul, as the feeling one gets when chest is lifted up and throat is tilted to the heavens with a bunch of strangers joined at the note and the moment.
To be sure, given the times we’re living through in Minnesota, with politicians and poets alike preaching from their pulpits about the power of love, many folks are busting out of their own individual hibernations in search of in-the-flesh gatherings that facilitate harmony and community.
To that end, if all goes according to plan, 1,000 or more singers will lift their voices in song Saturday (5:30 p.m.) in Minneapolis’ Powderhorn Park, in a show of solidarity with the so-called community sings of yesteryear and a real-time manifestation of the transcendental nature of the simple act of singing a simple song, be it from Ireland (“The Happy Wanderer”) or Somalia (“Waving Flag”) or something even more primal or pre-school.
Which is what I did last Wednesday, at my first-ever in-person sing. It took place in a second-floor meeting room at the Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church in Minneapolis, but it was no organized religious event. In fact, the songs that were sung went out of their way to be non-denominational and more like Zen koans than standard ceiling-ripping hymns — which leads to an unbridled and dogma-free spiritual experience that brought a few singers to tears by the end of our night.
“Some people think group singing predates human language,” seventysomething Oregon song-leader and wise man Laurence Cole told our group of about 100 singer/strangers (no more) Wednesday. Given the church meeting room’s décor of Renaissance-era paintings of the Christ story, it was hard not to see the single tom drum-beating Cole as some sort of seriously silly milkman of human kindness who makes sing-alongs out of poems by Rilke, Rumi and John O’Donohue.
Over the course of two hours, Cole spoke softly between songs about the earth, our connection to nature and one another, and how singing communicates what’s in the soul.
Everybody joined in, and we all sang at the top of our lungs such mystic missives as, “Open your ears, open your eyes, open your heart, open your mind,” “I ride my bike to work every day,” “Go deeper, feel your roots, touch everyone around you,” “Localization paves the way for globalization,” and “Burning everything that’s in the way of love.”
“They’re close to being chants, but they’re more like layered songs, so it’s easy for people to find the harmony,” said Cole before the sing. “It isn’t a performance, but there is an audience, and everyone is joined together in a very simple way, and there’s a lot of beauty and a huge amount of fun. People connect kind of magically because you don’t have to go through a whole lot of ‘getting to know you’ stuff, because you’re connected by just having a good time together.
“What we try to do is write songs that kind of speak to the highest aspirations of mankind, and they tend to bring a higher sort of vibration or energy that is quite enlivening. I’ve been reading philosopher Ivan Illich’s “Tools Of Conviviality” and thinking about this idea called ‘conviviality’: people sharing creative energy, and just what they came with at birth — their hearts, their lungs, their bodies, their souls, their spirits — and when that kind of sharing happens, conviviality occurs. It’s a specific uplifting and feeling that you have.
“Singing has been commodified, and really what this whole movement is about is a reunion and a reclaiming of our birthright to sing together and make beauty together. It’s the oldest and most natural way that we metabolize emotion and take what’s going on in our lives to another perspective and another way of experiencing our true selves. It’s a very old technology of belonging.”
Conferees try to build state's education funding structure, despite 'mismatched' House, Senate 'lumber'
At midnight Thursday night, the technical deadline came and went for Minnesota lawmakers to have worked out the differences between the omnibus education bills crafted by the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Major, big-dollar differences. At about 8 p.m., however, they recessed.
As is characteristic of this stage of the legislative session, set to wrap by Monday, legislators were coming and going from the governor’s office and various hearing rooms with lips pressed firmly together.
The most interesting piece of intelligence wrested from their crabby, cagey ranks by longtime Capitol insiders: Typically, conference committees build a compromise by taking more or less intact planks from each chamber’s bills.
Imagine a shack made from mismatched lumber: It might keep the rain out and be structurally sound, but it’s no architectural wonder.
This year, conferees are said to be taking mismatched policy items and instead of trying to mash them together are supposedly rewriting broad chunks of the bills to make a better, “massaged” version.
“This legislators, I have to give them a lot of props for this,” said Mary Cecconi, director of the grass-roots advocacy group Parents United. “They have really tried to slice this down the middle.”
Whenever it’s inked, the end product may be more thoughtful than typically is the case. But it likely also will take a little while to analyze because it may contain completely new language.
Indeed the only thing that seems certain is that whatever the final package, it will contain all-day kindergarten—an easy-to-grasp, here’s-what-you-get-for-your-new-taxes “deliverable” legislators in both chambers and on both sides of the aisle can spend the summer talking up to folks back home.
To be decided is whether to spend the House’s target of $550 million or the Senate’s $487 million, whether and how to use tax equalization to drum up some of that new money and whether accountability measures included in the House’s “World’s Greatest Workforce” education reform proposal will stand.
Also at issue: whether a Senate move to delay implementation of statewide teacher evaluations will survive. The effort is said to have lost some traction in recent days when the U.S. Department of Education sent lawmakers a letter warning that Minnesota’s hard-won waiver from compliance with a burdensome, outdated federal accountability system was premised in part on its promise to begin the performance reviews next year.
Also causing a lot of nail biting: A long-sought program to fund pre-K scholarships and ensure that the money is spent on high-quality early-childhood education seemed to have survived an unexpectedly rocky session only to hit an 11th-hour roadblock.
As of Thursday night, the Senate’s four DFL education conferees were said to be under enormous pressure to “cap” individual scholarships. Limiting the dollars a child would be eligible for would allow funding to be extended to more families — something that sounds great at first blush.Track 2013 education bills
Get the latest on key education bills with
MinnPost's 2013 Legislative Bill Tracker.
In the eyes of early-ed advocates, this is problematic, however. An inadequate scholarship will mean recipients in pricey locations, like the Twin Cities, may not have enough money to stay in their programs for the full year. The resulting churn works against the gains the quality programming delivers.
And so what of the big, broad bottom-line?
As disappointed as educators and their advocates are going to be to wake up Monday morning to realize that the Minnesota Miracle is still a thing of the past, lawmakers are disappointed, too.
No matter how they polish and massage in the wee, desperate hours, they’re not going to be able to make up for a decade of inflation and cuts. The best they are likely to do is begin to backfill the $2 billion hole bulldozed a decade ago by former Gov. Jesse Ventura’s “big fix.”
At the end of his residency at the Mayo Clinic, Paul Pitlyk was not filled with the confidence he thought a neurosurgeon should have, even though he had five intensive years of experience and training.
He joined a growing practice in Wisconsin, bought a convertible and appeared every bit the successful young doctor. But the feelings of doubt persisted — along with a feeling that he should be doing this work somewhere else.
In the mid-1960s, U.S. activities in Vietnam were beginning to dominate the headlines. Pitlyk’s three older brothers had served in World War II, and his father, suggesting that the true way to his heart was through military service, pointed at a wall hung with photos of his other sons in uniform. “Paul, do you ever think you’ll be good enough to be on this wall?” he asked. Subtle.
So one day, Pitlyk called the Navy recruiting office and asked to be assigned to a position “with maximum need and excitement with no particular regard to location.”
“Are you for real?” the recruiter responded. He was.
Nearly a half-century later, Pitlyk recounted his service as a neurosurgeon in a Vietnam medical tent. Afterward, a member of the audio-visual crew came up to him and said he “just witnessed a slice of American history,” Pitlyk says. “He went on to say that I should not let it die with me.”OAS_AD("Middle");
The memories of those days remain intense for the doctor, so he decided to tell the story.
“Blood in China Beach: My Story as a Brain Surgeon in Vietnam” (iUniverse) explains exactly what maximum need and excitement entailed, as Pitlyk and his colleagues performed surgery on an endless line of traumatically injured soldiers under very minimalist conditions.
Every day tested the doctor’s skills, judgment and creativity as he did his best to save the young men who passed through the “Charlie Med” tent.
Pitlyk writes in unflinching detail about “the horror of vibrant young Marines turned into raw meat” and the heroics required to deal with the work and its emotional aftermath. Many young men did not make it out alive. Others were sent home grievously, permanently altered, leading Pitlyk to ponder the many moral dilemmas involved in wartime medicine.
But despite its considerable difficulties — and often because of them — Pitlyk found he loved the work. The hard part was going home.
“I returned to private practice after I completed my Navy requirement only because the Navy had drafted many doctors with different specialties. We had seven neurosurgeons at my location while only three were needed. Had this not been the case, I would have stayed in beyond my obligation,” he says. “Private practice has never provided me with the personal gratification I engendered in Vietnam.”
Upon his return, Pitlyk found it difficult to reorient to a modern, peacetime surgery practice. “I had grown accustomed to crude surroundings and the setting in Vietnam and, in a sense, longed for it,” he said.
He almost had the chance to revisit that level of intensity.
In 1991, Pitlyk was called back into the Navy for the purpose of going to the “Desert Storm” conflict in Middle East. “I was sent to the Marine base in California in preparation for transfer via air. However, the war ended in a few days, and I was returned to civilian life.”
To fill the void that lingered after his experiences in Vietnam, Pitlyk later joined a volunteer medical organization called the Flying Samaritans, a group of doctors who traveled to Baja, Calif., to evaluate and treat indigent Mexican people with poor access to medical care.
But Vietnam remained the most vital moment in the doctor’s career. “Never again would I be chosen to stand between so many injured people and a graveyard,” he said. “I never again felt as needed.”
Wondering about someone’s views on raising taxes on the rich?
If it’s a guy, just look at his biceps.
Apparently, men with the biggest biceps — whether rich or poor — express stronger beliefs about redistribution than their less-bulky peers.
The study’s authors say the link may have something to do with our evolutionary past, when a show of physical strength was key to helping males in small-scale societies gain and defend resources.
For the study, about 1,500 men and women were recruited in Argentina, Denmark and the United States. The participants had their biceps measured (the best predictor of upper-body strength, according to the study’s authors) and filled out a questionnaire, which asked about their socioeconomic status and about their degree of support for or against different policies (such as higher taxes on the rich) that redistribute income and wealth.
An analysis of the data found a significant correlation between male physical strength and support for income-redistribution policies that reflect the participants’ own self-interest. Wealthy men in the study with the greatest upper-body strength were the least likely to support redistribution (such as higher taxes) while less wealthy men of similar strength were the most likely to support such policies.
In contrast, men with weaker biceps, no matter what their income level, were much less likely to be adamant about policies that ran against their own self-interest.
These findings were similar in all three countries, even though Argentina, Denmark and the United States have very different welfare systems.
“Our results demonstrate,” write the study’s authors, “that physically weak males are more reluctant than physically strong males to assert their self-interest — just as if disputes over national policies were a matter of direct physical confrontation among small numbers of individuals, rather than abstract electoral dynamics among millions.”
The authors point out that their study doesn’t prove that bulking up will cause men to take stronger positions on income-distribution policies. Still, political parties may be missing an opportunity. To whip up more enthusiasm for their party’s economic policies, perhaps they should be encouraging some of their members (the ones with the “right” income profile) to do several sets of push-ups daily.
Only the men, though. For the study found no association between upper-body strength and views about income redistribution among its women participants. The researchers attribute this finding to their observation that, evolutionarily speaking, women “have less to gain and more to lose” from being aggressive.
Or maybe women have just further evolved?
I may be in denial, but I have felt that Republicans are overplaying their hand on the triple play "scandals."
Stu Rothenberg, a cautious and obsessively non-partisan Washington political analyst, wrote Thursday that:
It’s hard to overstate the potential significance of the past week. What we are witnessing is nothing less than a dramatic reversal of the nation’s political narrative — from how bad the Republican brand is and how President Barack Obama is going to mobilize public opinion against the GOP in the midterm elections to whether the Obama administration has become so arrogant that it believes it can stonewall Congress and the public.
The series of revelations presents an unflattering picture of an administration that just 10 days ago looked poised and confident. Now it looks out of touch and unresponsive.
The danger for Obama, of course, is that many Americans will start to doubt his administration’s veracity and values. If that happens — and for now it is only a danger, not an inevitability — then the president could well turn into a serious liability for Democrats in next year’s elections.
Of course, the day before, Rothenberg wrote that many Republicans seem to be denial about how badly their brand has been damaged, for presidential election purposes, by Tea Partification, as symbolized by a recent surge of enthusiasm for Sen. Ted Cruz as a possible 2016 nominee.
In statements, Minnesotans Betty McCollum called the bill a “Tea Party charade,” and Keith Ellison said such votes are “wasting he American people’s time.” Even Tim Walz, who traditionally plays the pragmatist, issued a statement bashing “side-show political votes on bills that have no chance of becoming law.”Piecemeal repeal Other reading
- The Washington Post looks at why ACA repeal votes still matter, politically and substantively, for Republicans.
- Politico expands on how Republicans may use the IRS disclosure against health-care reform, both this week and in the future.
- Real Clear Politics takes a deep dive into the political argument for continued ACA repeal efforts.
- One follow-up from earlier in the week: Michele Bachmann’s early TV ad campaign is based around Wednesday’s repeal vote. The ad, which will air on Fox 9 for about 12 days, can be seen here.
The new MNsure Board, which oversees Minnesota's health insurance exchange, meets for the first time today, to elect a chair and set a schedule for future meetings.
The 1 p.m. meeting, open to the public, will be in the conference room of the state Revenue Department, 600 Robert St., St. Paul.
The meeting, scheduled to run until 4:15 p.m., also will include an overview of the health exchange from April Todd-Malmlov, MNsure executive director.
MNsure is scheduled to begin enrollment in October for health care coverage beginning in 2014. It will enable consumers to compare health plans side by side, get access to federal tax credits for affordable coverage, and enroll in Medical Assistance.
Officials say an estimated 1.3 million Minnesotans are expected to access quality health coverage using MNsure by 2016.
Gov. Mark Dayton appointed the seven-member board last month. The members are:
- Thompson Aderinkomi, founder and CEO, RetraceHealth.
- Pete Benner, a consultant on health care, labor relations, and public policy, and former executive director of AFSCME Council 6,
- Brian Beutner, former CEO of mPay Gateway and former UnitedHealth Group executive.
- Kathryn Duevel, OBGYN, Affiliated Community Medical Care (retired).
- Tom Forsythe, vice president of global communications, General Mills.
- Lucinda Jesson, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Services
- Phil Norrgard, director of human services, Fond du Lac Reservation.