Independent political news, information and commentary from the Capitol and the State of Minnesota.

New Laws Taking Effect January 1st, 2011

December 16, 2010
Saint Paul, Minnesota
By Marty Owings

A set of new laws goes into effect starting this January 1, 2011. They include new protections for consumers who fall prey to bad or faulty workmanship by contractors. The new law essentially protects consumers for up to ten years after the work is performed by allowing them to work through an expedited resolution process rather than the courts.

Another new law allows a government agency who is enforcing child support to collect more information about a payee. Collection of email and cell phone information as well as other contact data is now permissible. This new law is designed to help track down people not paying child support.

It's Official Mark Dayton is Minnesota's Next Governor

December 7, 2010
Saint Paul, Minnesota
By Marty Owings

Democrat Mark Dayton held his first press conference as Minnesota's new Governor elect just hours after Republican Tom Emmer conceded in the tightly contested race. Dayton began by thanking Emmer for his gracious concession, saying that both Emmer and Independence Party candidate Tom Horner ran, "principled and honorable campaigns". Dayton said that Emmer had called him shortly after 10 o'clock in the morning to congratulate him. Dayton also made it a point to thank the election officials including the canvassing board and the Secretary of State's office for their work on the recount effort.

Capitol Conversations - Press Release

Wayne’s World Goes to St. Paul:
Introducing Capitol Conversations

During a session with 60 freshmen in the Minnesota Legislature, it makes sense for a different kind of political talk show to begin its freshman year as well.

Capitol Conversations is Minnesota’s first livestreamed, interactive weekly political talk show. The one-hour Web program is hosted by Marty Owings, a political enthusiast and citizen journalist who broke into the news business with KFAI radio. The show is livestreamed, or broadcast online, at each Tuesday at 6 pm CT. With three episodes produced and viewership increasing by the week, Owings says there’s nowhere to go but up.

Owings describes Capitol Conversations as “less wonk and more Wayne’s World.” (The 1980s Saturday Night Live skit starred Mike Myers and Dana Carvey as two teens in a basement hosting a low-budget cable TV talk show.) In a similar vein, on Capitol Conversations regular guy Owings engages guests in dialogue that’s casual, candid, and often lighthearted. Former Independence Party Gubernatorial candidate Tom Horner inadvertently referred to Governor Mark Dayton as Senator Dayton; Owings ribbed Horner about not letting go of the election outcome. “I let it go on midnight November second,” a relaxed Horner chuckled.

“The business of governing is serious, and so is journalism. But if you can’t stop and laugh at yourself every once in awhile, that’s sad,” Owings says.

Host Owings is no stranger to self-deprecating humor, and at times is in awe of the guests he interviews. Never having worked at a newspaper or television station, he calls himself a “glorified copyboy” in a field of established journalists such as MinnPost reporter Eric Black, a recent Capitol Conversations guest. Owings says, “I’m just a dude who’s interested in civic discourse, political life, the fun of it, the process of government, all the things that are important to democracy.”

Emmer Denies Planning Court Challenge

December 3, 2010
Saint Paul, Minnesota
By Marty Owings

Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer held a 10:30 news conference this morning in which he highlighted a number of concerns he says could effect the outcome of the election. Emmer stated that the issue of more votes than people calls into question the integrity of the election system and is "an assault on the very principles of the American voting system". Emmer repeated the one person, one vote statement several times during the press conference. He said that he was disappointed with the Minnesota Supreme Courts decision to deny his petition to have Minnesota counties undergo a reconciliation process. He added that he was not currently planning another court challenge, but that he would not make a decision on that until the court issued it's opinion in the original case and the issue of unreconciled votes was resolved.

GOP Leadership Lays Out Committees, Some In DFL Express Concern

Saint Paul, Minnesota
November 17, 2010
By Marty Owings

According to a press released issued today the Minnesota House and Senate GOP its new committee leadership will help promote efficiency. According the GOP this new committee structure is meant to, "streamline" the committees and their functions. This new structure is something DFL Represetative Gene Pelowski says Democrats have been working on since 2006. Pelowski said in a statement that, " I am pleased to learn today that the Republicans are adopting our DFL measures in a bipartisan way."

MN GOP Letter To Election Official's: It's Against The Law Not To "Status Check"

Saint Paul, Minnesota
October 30, 2010
By Marty Owings

In the attached document obtained by Minnesota Capitol News, the Minnesota Republican Party warns election officials that it is a felony not to train Election Judges to perform status checks, "if there is information on the drivers license that the individual in not eligible to vote... such as... a 'status check' designation". The letter also says that any election judge who fails to perform a status check is guilty of a Gross Misdemeanor.

Special Session Yields Quick Deal and Some Politics

Saint Paul, Minnesota
October 18, 2010
By Marty Owings

Governor Pawlenty called for a special legislative session on Monday to deal with damages caused by storms this summer and flooding in September. Parts of the state, especially southern Minnesota where 21 counties were affected. The $80.3 million dollar measure passed both the House and Senate unanimously, but not before politics made a reappearance at the Capitol.

Representative Alice Hausman, a DLFer from St.Paul, surprised more than a few of her colleagues when she announced on the House floor that she'd come to the Capitol prepared to vote "no" on the emergency money. She said she was upset with the Governor for refusing Federal health care money and said he and other Republicans were being hypocrites.

Email Contact With Minnesota Reps? Not So Fast.

July 5, 2010
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Marty Owings

After hearing from someone recently about the difficulty he had getting a response from a Congressman outside his district via email, I became curious. Why not just write them a letter I asked? No one under 35 years old writes letters, was the quick response. Well you could call them right? Yes, I suppose I could call them, but emailing allows you to keep a record and to copy others. Fair enough I thought, let's check it out.

So how easy is it to submit an email question or concern to Minnesota's Representatives. I visited each of their websites and tried to submit an email question. Here are the results of my quick test in alphabetical order:

Michelle Bachmann - After entering my zip code at the zip code screening form: "Sorry, Congresswoman Bachmann does not represent that zip code."

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