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

Governor's Unallotment Power Goes Before the Minnesota Supreme Court

March 16, 2010
State Capitol - By Marty Owings

A lawsuit filed by three low-income people is challenging the Governor's power to unallot. The suit was filed last year after Governor Pawlenty used his unallotment authority to balance the budget, cutting among other programs, funding for a state nutrition program used by the poor.

The case basically boils down to how much power a Governor has to balance the budget in times of fiscal crisis. The unallotment power was established to allow a Governor to unallot or basically remove spending from the state budget during "fiscal" emergencies. That's the simple explanation.

Attorneys arguing against the Governor's unallotment say that the Governor is essentially ignoring the original Legislative intent of the unallotment statutes. They argue that the authority to unallot does not provide the Governor "Legislative" powers and that Pawlenty over-stepped his authority.

Pawlenty Axes The Bonding Bill by More than $300 Million Dollars

March 15, 2010
State Capitol - By Marty Owings

Governor Pawlenty kept his promise to Law Makers and used his veto authority to slash hundreds of millions of dollars from the Bonding Bill. Pawlenty stated in a letter to Legislators that, “As usual, I have been left to reduce spending within the bill to an affordable level. The DFL-controlled legislature seems incapable of prioritizing projects or simply saying no. So, I have again done it for you.”

Some of the areas the Governor cut:

$43.5 million - Transit Capital Improvement
$42.3 million - St. Cloud State University
$28 million - Mayo Civic Center
$25 million - RIM Conservation Reserve

Interview with MN Justice Paul Anderson on the Resignation of Chief Justice Eric Magnuson

March 14, 2010
State Capitol - Marty Owings

This is a video clip sent to us courtesy of TheUptake which contains a very interesting interview with Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Paul Anderson. The interview was conducted by Access To Democracy's Alan Miller. Anderson is commenting on the significance of Magnuson's resignation. Governor Pawlenty will needt to appoint a replacement for Magnuson in his last few months in office.


Governor Pawlenty Will Not Veto Bonding Bill, But Line Item Veto's Very Possible

Rainy Capitol
March 10, 2010
State Capitol - Marty Owings

The Governor today indicated he was willing to work with the current bonding bill, but reserved the right to use his veto power to trim down the size. Pawlenty told the Fargo Forum that, "The bonding bill incorporates most of our key priorities. It's still too large but it's a bill we can work with and we'll just have to slim it down to something that is more reasonable and responsible and affordable." Pawlenty was not specific about what exactly he would be cutting from the bill.

Rep. Alice Hausman (DFL) who is the Capitol Investment Finance Chair, indicated today that the current bill gives the Governor everything he requested. Hausman indicated that significant cuts were made to make the bill more palatable to the Governor.

A Few Bills To Keep An Eye On

March 10, 2010
State Capitol - Marty Owings

Here are just a few bills moving through the Capitol that have gotten our attention that you may find interesting. Here is the list, including the bills author and a note about what is interesting and or controversial about the Legislation:

HF891 (Champion) - Expungement law expanded and modified, courts authorized to modify or suspend collateral sanctions under certain circumstances, and situations limited in which juvenile delinquency criminal record is publicly available.

A small piece of this bill contains a significant change. The law currently requires a law enforcement or government entity to obtain a Judges permission before opening up expunged records. This bill would eliminate the requirement to get a Judges permission.

Status: Bill will be heard on the house floor.

Here are Rep.Champions audio comments regarding this bill:

Governor Pawlenty Asks President Obama To Declare Disaster Area

Here is some aerial footage taken of last years flooding courtesy of the TheUptake.

March 9, 2010
State Capitol - By Marty Owings

Governor Pawlenty sent a letter to President Obama today asking for a Disaster declaration in response to the anticipated spring flooding. Pawlenty states in his letter that, "I have determined the potential severity and magnitude would exceed the capabilities of the state". Pawlenty adds in his letter, "Based on the extensive flood preparedness efforts underway in communities throughout the Red River and Minnesota Basins, I am requesting direct federal assistance for emergency protective measures addressing life-saving/sustaining, property protection, and public health and safety."

Civil Union Hearings But No Votes - Some Left Asking Why? - Full Audio Interviews

Capitol At Dusk
March 8, 2010
State Capitol - By Marty Owings

Both the Minnesota House and Senate recently held hearings on Civil Unions, but no votes were taken in either meeting. Some people in the GBLT community voiced criticism over the lack of voting, saying they believe a vote should have been taken, especially in the Senate committee where the believe there's enough support to pass a bill.

Senator Mee Moua (DFL) who is the chair of the Judiciary Committee where the hearing took place says she's surprised at the criticism, since it was GBLT leaders and the bills co-sponsor Sen. John Marty that didn't want a vote to be taken. Moua says that there was concern that the a measure wouldn't make it into law since House support for such a measure was not likely. However, Sen. John Marty (DFL) says he wanted a vote and thinks advancing such a measure helps raise awareness of an important issue.

Proposal Would Allow Tax Payers To Pay More Taxes - Huh?


March 8, 2010
State Capitol - Marty Owings

Republican's Peggy Scott and Amy Koch introduced a bill today that would allow taxpayers to pay more taxes. In a press release today, Scott said, "There are many voices on the left calling for higher taxes. They say they are willing to pay more, so I want to give them that opportunity." Scott goes on to basically say the whole thing is a lark, "This proposal is about the hypocrisy of a vocal minority and the reality that Minnesotans cannot afford higher taxes. We need to reduce government spending, scale-down the bureaucracy and put government in its proper scope."

The bill will be carried in the Senate by Sen. Amy Koch (R).

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