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GOP seeks California-style tax authority for Minnesota

MORNING EDITION ALSO: U’s golf coach saga continues; “shady” Twin Cities; “Castle Doctrine” expansion; Sunday liquor sales bill loses its fizz; a QB for Vikes; and more.
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Someone obviously thinks that the system California’s got going — a deficit mess even bigger than ours and complete gridlock — is a great idea. A bill that would require a 60 percent “super-majority” on any legislation that increased taxes is actually being taken seriously. Rachel Stassen-Berger of the Strib reports: “ This week, Republican lawmakers introduced amendments to ban gay marriage and require photo identification when voting. Thursday, House members introduced a measure to ask voters another question:

“Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to require a three-fifths vote of each house of the legislature to pass a law that increases state income, state sales, or property taxes?”

That measure, like the gay marriage and photo id measures, has powerful backing from both the Speaker of the House Kurt Zellers and Majority Leader Matt Dean. The gay marriage and photo id amendments have been fast-tracked. In the Senate, the marriage amendment was introduced Tuesday and has a hearing on Friday. The amendment was introduced Thursday in the House. It hasn’t yet been scheduled for a hearing in the House.” It’s startling how fast they can move on the stuff they’re really interested in.

Good story by Brian Murphy at the PiPress on that now long-running saga of the firing of the U of M lesbian golf coach. Says Murphy: “University of Minnesota golf director John Harris asked a Hennepin County judge Wednesday to dismiss Kathryn Brenny’s sexual discrimination lawsuit against him because she cannot prove he defrauded or harassed her into resigning in October. The former assistant coach accuses Harris of preventing her from instructing and traveling with the women’s team last year because she is a lesbian. … Documents filed in the case reveal a bitter fight that threatens to further taint the Gophers’ athletics department. Maturi has been under scrutiny for poor performances by his highest-profile sports, enduring heavy criticism for some of his decisions involving coaches, especially for hiring now-former football coach Tim Brewster. … Brenny, the 1998 Minnesota State High School champion from Little Falls, Minn., claims Harris was motivated to push her aside to allow his son-in-law, Ernie Rose, to perform her assistant coaching duties. She said Harris circumvented university hiring practices by creating a position for Rose, who did not have a college degree.” And it goes on …

One-third of Minneapolis is made in the shade, baby. Stribber Tom Meersman reports: “If you’re looking for the shadiest place in Minneapolis this summer, head to the Lynnhurst neighborhood off the southeast shore of Lake Harriet. The neighborhood ranks first in the city in the proportion of urban tree cover that blankets its homes, businesses and parks. Nearly 49 percent of its area, which includes a portion of Minnehaha Creek, is covered, according to a first-of-its-kind study of the city’s canopy that used high-resolution satellite technology. The study, by a team of University of Minnesota researchers, put the overall city rate at 31.5 percent, higher than previous estimates that used less precise methods. In St. Paul, the canopy cover rate was 32.5 percent, a recent study found. … Recent similar studies put the Twin Cities in the middle of urban areas, less than Washington, D.C., at 35 percent, and more than Boston at 29 percent. Other cities include Baltimore (49 percent), Burlington, Vt. (43 percent), Des Moines (27 percent) and New York (24 percent).”

A commentary on the MPR site by Heather Martens of the group Protect Minnesota, “Working to End Gun Violence,” goes after the latest enhancement of the so-called “Castle Doctrine.” She writes: “In January, Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Good Thunder, tried to repeal the state’s background check system for gun sales. This week, he wants to legalize a kind of murder. House File 1467, which ought to be called ‘Shoot First,’ will be heard in the House Public Safety Committee this Thursday. It would allow the killing of anyone who enters another’s yard, even when the person is unarmed and posing no threat; and it would allow the killing of anyone in a public place who seems threatening — again, even if the person is unarmed, and even if walking or driving away is a safe option. Also buried in this bill is a loosening of concealed-carry permit laws to recognize all other states’ pistol permits in Minnesota, even states with lax background checks that issue permits valid for life.”

Of all the social issue bills that have been pushed through the legislative pipeline this session, a bill that if it didn’t create new jobs might add a few hours to those that already exist … is going nowhere. The Strib’s Eric Roper writes: “A proposal to eliminate Minnesota’s ban on Sunday liquor sales is on life support at the Capitol. The chairman of the House Commerce Committee, Rep. Joe Hoppe, tells Hot Dish [Politics, the Strib blog] he won’t hold a hearing on the bill this year, effectively stopping it in its tracks. The perennial proposal passed a Senate committee this March for the first time in recent history. The proposal could still arise as an amendment to the omnibus liquor bills, which are winding through committee. Sunday sales face stiff opposition from the state’s powerful liquor lobby, which has quashed many similar efforts over the years. Liquor stores oppose the bill because they do not want to open on Sunday.”

After what seems like an eternity of mock-draft hype and absurd overkill, the local papers actually have news to report. The Vikings picked Florida State Christian Ponder, a kid some said was “the most NFL ready” of any in the draft but had been beset with injuries. USA Today’s Sean Leahy writes: “Ponder, a Florida State product, was seen by many analysts as being a potential late-first-round pick at best. He was the fourth-rated QB prior to the draft by, USA TODAY’s scouting service. At 6-2, 229 pounds, Ponder joins a team that needs a QB after the departure of Brett Favre.” A poll at the uh, “intensely involved” Daily Norseman site had, at one point, 29 percent of fans giving the Ponder choice an “A’” and 23 percent giving it an “F.” All I can see is that name, “Ponder,” on the backs of 300 people down in front of me.

The Minnesota Daily’s Raya Zimmerman has a story about the U of M Police scanning social media sites for big parties that might get unruly during Spring Jam, which began last night: “UMPD is … collaborating with the Office for Student Affairs to check social media sites such as Facebook to ensure that if students are planning any big parties, they will be on the authorities’ radar. [Vice Provost for Student Affairs Jerry] Rinehart said as of Tuesday, they have not seen any ominous activity thus far. ‘I’m pretty optimistic that our students know how to have fun and be respectful at the same time,’ he said. University and city representatives took a tour of University neighborhoods earlier this week, knocking on doors and reminding residents to keep their parties under control this weekend.”

As was reported last week, The Southern Theater is on the verge of being shutdown because of serious financial troubles. The Strib’s Rohan Preston writes: “The Southern has had a substantial deficit for at least three years, according to board members. The current financial crisis arose when word got out that individual dancers and choreographers had not received money promised to them as McKnight fellowship winners. The money, instead, had gone toward ongoing operations at the Southern. In a communique posted to the Southern’s website, the board said that ‘no embezzlement of funds occurred.’ A board shakeup at the theater resulted in the ouster of the former chair and the departure of six other members.”

Today in Bachmannia:  David Weigel of Slate reports on a new Hawkeye Poll that shows … well, not much interest in any of the GOP “contenders.” Says Weigel: “The new Hawkeye Poll, conducted by the University of Iowa, found literally zero support for Michele Bachmann among self-identified Republicans who are planning to vote in the state’s caucus. The race is between Mitt Romney, who’s running, and Mike Huckabee, who might not be running.” The poll has Sarah Palin at 15 percent. Haven’t the pundits already buried her?