I’ve been off the grid for a bit with a nasty cold so let’s catch up quickly with what has changed at the State Capitol.
On the budget: Not much.
On social issues: A lot.
On K12: Florida is really good at reform but hasn’t reached Minnesota’s rankings.
On the Vikings: 4th and long?
Gambling: Still in play
Let’s start with…
Gov. Dayton criticized GOP lawmakers for failing to pass a budget that balances. He called it the “Theater of the absurd” that GOP leaders aren’t putting forward what he characterized “as an honest budget plan.” He also said “I didn’t get here by blinking” when asked if he would eventually agree to an all cuts budget. (Listen to Dayton’s newser here)
Dayton worked to turn the focus on the budget by holding an afternoon news conference.
That hope was dashed by late afternoon.
That brings us to..
Three Republican Senators announced that they were introducing a constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriage. The measure would be put to the voters on the 2012 ballot and would set off a firestorm of political activity in Minnesota. Republicans argue it’s time to put the issue to the voters (even though it’s banned under state law). Democrats call the measure divisive and a voter turnout tool in a presidential election year when DFL voters are expected to turn out in higher numbers.
Guns will also be an issue on Thursday when the House Public Safety Committee takes up several gun rights legislation. The NRA has issued an e-mail alerting supporters about the bills.
Florida’s K12 system
GOP Sen. Majority Leader Amy Koch and GOP House Speaker Zellers worked to focus their attention on a morning event with Jeb Bush, former Florida Governor. He discussed changes to that state’s K12 system. Republicans highlight it as a model. Democrats point to Florida’s poor rankings as a reason not to go down Florida’s path.
Interesting side-note: Dayton and GOP legislative leaders have repeatedly mentioned job creation as a top priority this legislation session. Neither Dayton, Koch or Zellers mentioned any concerns over potential job losses after Lawson Software was bought out by a private equity firm.
Gov. Dayton says he’s open to using Racino money to fix the state’s budget deficit but would prefer to use it for job creation and K12 funding. GOP House Speaker Kurt Zellers told the Star Tribune that Racino and should be in play “if the governor isn’t going to veto it.”
Pat Anderson, Minnesota’s newly elected RNC Committeewoman, has signed on to be a lobbyist for Racino. The move contradicts the MNGOP platform.
A new football stadium for the Minnesota Vikings appears to be fumbling along and may e on life support at the State Capitol. The House State Government Operations Committee Chair says she won’t hold a hearing on the bill this week. The bill won’t meet policy deadlines and can be saved if the Rules Committee takes action on it. That could be a big question mark as lawmakers work to reach a budget deal with Gov. Dayton. The guess is the best chance of a stadium getting done this year is if it’s including it in a global budget.
Gov. Dayton says he thinks the Vikings should contribute as much as half of the cost of a news stadium.
Bill to watch: The photo ID bill is moving closer to a full Senate vote.
Follow through: House Tax Chair Greg Davids gets credit for following through on a promise to hear public testimony on Gov. Dayton’s tax plan. The testimony didn’t sway the GOP controlled committee. A motion to move the bill out of committee failed 19-9. 3 Democrats voted against it.
The Central Corridor deal is official.
GOP Rep. John Kline is holding a town hall event in Red Wing this morning.
House Republicans in other parts of the country are facing voter discontent over the Ryan budget plan. Republicans passed the measure before they left for the break.
Race for Congress
Democrats and left leaning groups are putting a bulls-eye on GOP Rep. Chip Cravaack’s back. And MPR says that means Minnesota’s 8th is getting election year ads a year early.
Daniel Fanning, a staffer for DFL Sen. Al Franken, is likely to challenge Cravaack.
Race for President
Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour has decided not to run for the White House. Conventional wisdom suggests that helps Tim Pawlenty’s “Last Man Standing” approach. But as MPR points out, Pawlenty will need to start showing some momentum in 2012 polls.
A head slap moment for GOP operatives: Barbour’s aides said Barbour didn’t think he could beat President Obama.
A positive sign for Pawlenty is that the perceived GOP front-runner, Mitt Romney, is not bullet proof. The Massachusetts health care law is one problem. It doesn’t help that he wrote an op-ed saying Obama has engaged in “one of the biggest peacetime spending binges in American history.” The U.S. is engaged in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Ron Paul takes a step towards running.
Politico points out that GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann bungled Lincoln.
Jeb Bush on 2012
“He would be a formidable candidate,” Jeb Bush on Tim Pawlenty. Bush said he didn’t know GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann very well and said he isn’t a candidate for president in 2012. “I don’t see it,” he said.
Can you fix the weather too? Dayton proclaimed April 29th – May 8th as Minnesota’s Golf Opener.
Tweet of the Day
“Why is there a person dressed up as the lion from the Wizard of Oz outside the House Chamber?”
-League of Minnesota Cities Lobbyist Gary Carlson. The “cowardly lion” was there to tell Republicans to own up to their budget cuts.