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

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:

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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?

PeggyScott

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).

GAMC Rescued - Agreement Between DFL Law Makers and Governor Pawlenty Saves The Program - Full Audio

GAMC Rescue

March 6, 2010
State Capitol - By Marty Owings

After nearly nine months of work and countless negotiating sessions, Law Makers and Governor Pawlenty finally reached a compromise on a plan that will save the General Assistance Medical Care program. Senator Linda Berglin (DFL) emerged from an afternoon meeting in the Governor's office today to say that an agreement had been reached. Berglin said that the agreement required some very significant sacrifices, but that no recipients currently on GAMC were at risk to lose their coverage. Berglin said that the agreement reflected the best they could have hoped for in the current economic climate.

Lawsuit Seeks To Restore Cuts To General Assistance Medical Care - PLUS No New Progress in the Negotiations

GAMCJusitce
March 4, 2010
State Capitol - By Marty Owings

A Lawsuit was filed in Ramsey County Thursday that would extend GAMC for an additional month, in the hope it would give Law Makers and the Governor enough time to negotiate a solution that would restore the program. In addition, the lawsuit challenges Governor Pawlenty's authority to unilaterally unallot money from the program. The program is set to expire on April 1 and without any agreement between the DFL controlled Legislature and the Governor, many see the Courtroom as their only recourse in the fight.

Bakk Proposes Sales Tax on Clothing

State Capitol - March 4, 2010
By Tanner Curl

DFL gubernatorial candidate and state Sen. Tom Bakk has proposed to remove the sales tax exemption on clothing starting July 1. According to Bakk, such a move would generate $120 million annually. This revenue would be designated to help repay schools part of the $1.7 billion shift in payments Gov. Tim Pawlenty implemented last year to balance the current budget. "This proposed bill is an opportunity to make an investment in our children and in our future," Bakk said in statement.

Republican Senate Minority Leader David Senjam, along with Gov. Pawlenty, denounced the proposal. "Minnesota families are currently overburdened with excessive taxes and Senator Bakk’s call for new tax increases is simply the wrong approach to jump-starting Minnesota’s economy," Senjam said.

Read more about Bakk's proposal after the jump.

Law Maker Interview Series - Sen Mike Parry (R) and Rep Larry Howes (R) - Full Audio

Parry

March 4, 2010
State Capitol - By Marty Owings

I sat down with newly elected Republican Senator Mike Parry from Owatonna to discuss his first few weeks in office. You may recall that Parry filled the seat occupied by former long time Senator Dick Day who resigned to become a Lobbyist for racino's. Parry has some interesting things to say about his first weeks in office and touches on the controversy surrounding his tweets during the special election.

My second interview of the day was with Republican Representative Larry Howes from Walker, Minnesota. Howes has recently been very outspoken about separating politics from policy and has been critical of his own party at times. In this interview, Howes discusses why he thinks partisanship has become so prevalent, and you may be surprised at who he thinks is responsible. Howes addresses how long he hopes to serve and a small legacy he's proud to be leaving behind.

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