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Another look at who is pushing Voter ID

Minnesota Majority wants ACLU “reward”; vets’ tax credit touted; Franson video goes national; Bachmann and Piers Morgan spar; and more. 

In case anyone who cares has also forgotten … Alexandra Tempus of the AP files a report on the national drive pushing Voter ID: “A proposed constitutional amendment to require a photo ID for Minnesota voters is part of a surge of similar legislation nationwide, much of it springing from a conservative organization that’s well-known to politicians but operates largely out of public view. Six states enacted a strict photo ID requirement last year, and this year lawmakers in 31 other states are considering it. Minnesota’s Republican-controlled Legislature actually passed such a requirement last year but Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed it — prompting its backers to seek an amendment on the November ballot that Dayton cannot block. … The American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, has offered its ideas on voter ID for anyone interested in taking them. Established in 1973, the organization offers state lawmakers a menu of model bills on a range of issues: from business-friendly changes to the civil legal system to reducing regulations backed by environmentalists. … ALEC approved its model policy for voter ID in 2009. Cara Sullivan, a legislative analyst, said in an email that it was ‘just one of hundreds of models’ that ALEC had produced. … Democrats complained of ALEC’s influence earlier this session. In February, Dayton vetoed four Republican-backed bills that would have made sweeping changes to the state’s civil legal system; he said then that three of the four bills were directly influenced by an ALEC manual. When asked about the claim, a Senate GOP spokesman said he could give no immediate comment.” … But give him a day to make a couple of calls.

Related … The Minnesota Majority claims to have found an instance of voter fraud and wants the promised $1,000 “reward” offered by the local ACLU group. Says Jim Ragsdale at the Strib: “Dan McGrath, executive director of Minnesota Majority, produced court records from an Anoka County case involving voting in the 2008 election. The records concern an Andover woman who was charged with three felonies. According to the records, prosecutors believe she voted in person in her own name, and by absentee ballot in the name of her daughter, who was away at college. The daughter also voted near her college in the same election. The mother, according to records produced by McGrath, pleaded guilty to one of the charges and was sentenced to probation in August of 2011. McGrath and his organization are strong supporters of a proposed constitutional amendment requiring all voters to show a photo ID. ‘If you look for voter fraud in Minnesota, you’ll find it,’ he said in a statement on Tuesday.”

The Strib’s Richard Meryhew got the job of giving (a couple of) citizens less than delighted with a taxpayer-funded Vikings stadium a little ink: “From Linden Hills to the tornado-battered blocks of the city’s North Side, with a mix of anger, anticipation or a hint of resignation, Minneapolis residents are deep in debate and quite divided over whether the city should help pay for a $975 million downtown football stadium near the current Metrodome site.” The first interviews then go like this: “ ‘Majority rule, that’s the right way to do it,’ said Nelson, 71, a longtime barber in south Minneapolis. ‘That’s the American way, right’?” And … ‘Some, such as Hashi, a chef and restaurant owner at the Midtown Global Market, say they support city funding for a new stadium even if it means bypassing a voter referendum, a move advocated by Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak. ‘I side with Rybak on that one’, said Hashi, 30, a Somali immigrant who grew up in Minneapolis watching the Vikings with his family and friends. ‘There is no down side to it for the city or the state. It’s something that brings people together. It’s fun, so why the hell not’?”  Now, back to the Chamber of Commerce …

Is $750 enough to make you consider moving to Minnesota and retiring?  Tim Pugmire at MPR says: “The top Democrat in the Minnesota Senate is taking issue with a Republican plan to expand the state tax credit available to military veterans. The proposed legislation would eliminate the current income parameters for the credit, and provide every eligible veteran with $750. The cost of the tax credit is estimated at $40 million over the next three years. During a Senate tax committee hearing today, Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said the bill will cut into education funding for the current biennium and add to the debt already projected for the next biennium. … The bill’s chief author is Sen. Jeremy Miller, R-Winona. Miller said he thinks the tax credit could pay for itself by attracting more veterans to Minnesota to live and retire. ‘They’ll be buying homes here,’ Miller said. ‘They’ll be starting businesses, either starting families or maybe having grandchildren here in the state of Minnesota. So, let’s encourage people to move to the state of Minnesota and not leave the state of Minnesota.’ “

GOP Rep. Mary Franson’s “animals” video has gone national. At the Huffington Post, Leigh Owens writes: “In a message to constituents last week, Republican Minnesota State Rep. Mary Franson seemed to compare food stamp recipients to wild animals. Franson’s speech began by giving good news to the people of Minnesota’s District 11B about a surplus in the state budget. Then Franson decided to read ‘this funny little quote we got from a friend.’ ‘Isn’t it ironic that the food stamp program, part of the Department of Agriculture, is pleased to be distributing the greatest amount of food stamps ever,’ Franson said. ‘Meanwhile, the Park Service, also part of the Department of Agriculture, asks us to please not feed the animals, because the animals may grow dependent and not learn to take care of themselves.’ … Franson is not the first elected official to make insulting comments about individuals receiving public assistance. In 2010, former Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer (R-SC) made similar comments, comparing people who receive government assistance to stray animals.” And you know what’s really funny? At some point it seemed like a good idea.

Curtis Gilbert at MPR explains some of the fine print about who must agree to what and when as regards the Vikings stadium deal: “The stadium bill isn’t out yet, but Dayton’s point man on the project, Ted Mondale, said the Minneapolis City Council will have a vote, because of something called a ‘special law’ — a law which applies only to one city, county or geographic area. ‘It requires by law that the local jurisdiction, in this instance Minneapolis, vote for that,’ Mondale said. For example, if the legislature wants some of the sales and hospitality taxes collected in Minneapolis to go toward a new Vikings Stadium, the state constitution would require the approval of the Minneapolis City Council. There’s an exception to that rule, said University of Minnesota law professor Fred Morrison. ‘There’s a big if, because the Legislature has the power if it passes a general law that applies to, for example, all football stadiums, then it wouldn’t have to have local approval,’ Morrison said. In other words: The Legislature has the ability to circumvent the City Council. But Dayton said he’s not interested in doing that.”

As blame-placing strategies go, making a show of saying the cops killed off your gun bill doesn’t sound like a winner. But that’s where GOP Rep. Tony Cornish has gone. At MPR, Madeleine Baran reports: “GOP state lawmaker Tony Cornish criticized law enforcement officials Tuesday for helping defeat a bill that would have expanded the rights of gun owners to use deadly force in self defense. Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed the bill Monday. The legislation would have expanded the allowable use of deadly force if people believe they are in imminent danger in a home, hotel room, car, boat or tent. It also would have required Minnesota to accept gun permits from every state, including those that have less restrictive gun laws. … ‘I don’t blame the governor,’ he said on The Daily Circuit. ‘I blame the law enforcement talking heads that brought this argument to him.’ “

We have legislative action on a bill that would address legal issues in that $255K public school pay-out in Burnsville. Says Christopher Magan in the PiPress: “The House Education Finance Committee voted Tuesday to forward a bill to the civil law committee that would update the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act to require greater disclosure of the reasons employees receive payouts under separation agreements. Pam Myhra, R-Burnsville, introduced the measure after her home school district came under fire for paying Tania Z. Chance $254,814 to leave her job as human resources director just seven months into an 18-month contract. Board members have refused to say why they agreed to pay Chance to resign, citing privacy provisions in the data practices act.”

I hope Piers Morgan wasn’t actually surprised that Our Favorite Congresswoman, Michele Bachmann, didn’t answer his questions and thought him “rude” during her appearance on his CNN show last night: “CNN host Piers Morgan clashed with his guest Rep. Michele Bachmann on Monday, after the congresswoman called Morgan rude to his face. During the interview, Morgan replayed a clip of his interview with actor Kirk Cameron, who called same-sex marriage ‘unnatural’ and ‘ultimately destructive.’ ‘Do you agree with him?’ Morgan asked. ‘I am not here to be anybody’s judge,’ Bachmann said. ‘Well you’ve been pretty judgmental in the past, come on,’ Morgan responded. Bachmann’s eyes grew wide. ‘Me?’ she asked. ‘Hardly, hardly, hardly, hardly, hardly.’ Morgan pressed Bachmann and said she was ‘one of the judgmental people in America probably.’ ‘Well that’s rude’, Bachmann fired back. ‘That’s absolutely rude. I’m not a judgmental person.’ Morgan defended his question and said he was not being rude, but called Bachmann ‘very outspoken’ on the issue of same-sex marriage. ‘You have been very, very outspoken about gay marriage, about homosexuality, in the past and people will view it, whether you think it is judgmental or not, as very judgmental. So I’m surprised that you think that I’m being rude by asking you about views that you very, very vociferously espouse,’ he said.” How dare an uppity Brit talk like that to a serious (real) American elected official!