Both sides confident of controlling Legislature come November

As the returns were rolling in last night, Jim Ragsdale and Rachel Stassen-Berger at the Strib looked at the set-up for control of the state Legislature: “Republicans currently hold an 11-vote margin in the House, with one empty seat, and a seven-vote margin in the Senate. When they gained control in 2010, it was the first time the GOP had held both houses in nearly four decades. ‘The stage is set, the play is about to begin,’ Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, said Tuesday. ‘We’re not only defending our majority, but expanding it,’ added House Majority Leader Matt Dean, R-Dellwood. … The highest-profile legislative incumbent to face a strong challenge was Sen. Julianne Ortman, R-Chanhassen, Deputy Majority Leader of the state Senate and chair of the Taxes Committee. She was denied her party’s endorsement and criticized by her Republican challenger, Bruce Schwichtenberg, for not making deeper cuts to the state budget.”  

Local Rev. Meg Riley likes the vibe in Iowa. In a Huffington Post commentary, she says: “Because the much-dreaded “defense of marriage” TV ads haven’t started yet in Minnesota, and yard signs on either side of the amendment are a rare sight in small towns, it was easy enough to forget about the ballot initiative in my state. And certainly the “Welcome to Iowa” sign did not say, “Where same-sex couples can be legally married.” So my overall experience was that people are people, with a range of approaches to life, whatever the laws of their state do or don’t say about gay and lesbian couples. Still, there was a feeling of safety in Iowa that does not exist in Minnesota, and not just because with or without the passage of the constitutional initiative, it’s illegal for same-sex couples to get married in Minnesota. That’s always been true. But in Iowa I didn’t feel as if part of me was gearing up for an attack on my humanity, always watching for the dangers that accompany that. It’s good to be home, and I don’t plan to move to Iowa anytime soon. I still love Minnesota, and I will even if this ballot measure gets passed. I’m old enough to still be amazed that marriage equality has moved the distance it has in my lifetime. But my teenager tells me that an active conversation for the younger set is where to move if the ballot initiative passes. That brings me immeasurable sadness for the young and for my home state.”

The tulibee are dying off … Bill McAuliffe of the Strib writes: “A species of cold-loving fish has died in large numbers in northern Minnesota lakes this summer — putting it at the center of a study looking at the effects of a warming climate on the state’s lakes. Tulibee — a key food fish that thrives in cold water — have died in batches before in warm summer weather, said Peter Jacobson, fisheries research supervisor with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). But the die-offs have been occurring more frequently in recent years.”

Score one battle for the Tea Party. Rachel Stassen-Berger of the Strib reports: “State Rep. Steve Smith, the longest serving Republican in the Minnesota House, saw his career end  as Tea Party activist [Cindy Pugh] bested him in Tuesday primary. Pugh had the backing of the Minnesota Republican Party and the state’s Republican leaders in her fight to take down Smith. She had more than a 2-1 advantage over Smith. ‘This is a victory for everyone who is engaged and concerned about the direction of the state, about spending, about the size of government,’  Pugh said at her victory party. ‘It is a victory for the Tea Party. We embrace the principles of fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government and free market solutions.’ ”

The Glean Not so much, though, over in Wisconsin, where former Gov. Tommy Thompson bested hedge fund investor Eric Hovde in a four-way race for the U.S. Senate. Jason Stein of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel says: “Former U.S. Representative Mark Neumann and Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald of Horicon have both conceded in the GOP primary for U.S. Senate. … Neumann endorsed Thompson … in his concession speech Tuesday night and called on Republicans to unite in opposition to the Democratic candidate, U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin of Madison, calling her more liberal than President Barack Obama.”

Woo-hoo! Free Wi-Fi at the State Fair. Julio Ojeda-Zapata at the PiPress says: “I have a few tech updates as this year’s State Fair looms: Free Wi-Fi. Last year’s Fair did not have official Wi-Fi for public use, but wireless access points with password-free Wi-Fi did get set up at information booths (primarily for staff use). If you happened to be strolling by one of the booths as you checked for a Wi-Fi signal, you could get online. This year, for the first time, the Fair will officially offer Wi-Fi to the public. This is being set up by Minneapolis-based technology company DragNFly Wireless on the west end of the Grandstand plaza. Fair employees are adding outdoor furniture in primary colors and even lime-green patio umbrellas so folks can sit in the shade to check e-mail or upload videos.” Just don’t slop chocolate covered bacon into your keyboard.
 
It helps to have a deep(er) understanding of school districting funding dynamics than I do to grasp a Strib editorial on the recent Supreme Court decision: “Last week, the court said that state campaign finance rules do indeed apply to school districts. So if school officials use public resources to ask taxpayers for more money, they must register and report that activity like any other political committee. … We generally favor more transparency at all levels of government, but we fear that the ruling will embolden “Vote No” groups to mount costly legal challenges to legitimate information efforts by school districts. If that’s not the case — and if the court’s decision simply stands as a strong reminder to schools officials that they shouldn’t use public funds for referendum campaigns — Minnesota will have been well-served by its high court.” It’s a little clearer the third time through.

Adam Belz’ Strib story doubts the state will meet the goal of doubling exports by 2017. “The state’s exports grew 2 percent in the first six months of the year to $10.3 billion, led by computer and electronics, machinery, transportation equipment and food, according to new data from the U.S. International Trade Administration. Last year, exports grew 7.3 percent from 2010. Gov. Mark Dayton announced in March an initiative designed to double exports from the Twin Cities by 2017, based in part on the conviction that most market growth in this century will occur outside the United States. To reach that goal, businesses in the metro area would have to increase exports by nearly 15 percent per year.”

Xcel has taken two of the state’s three nuclear plants off-line. Stephanie Hemphill at MPR says: “The company says the Prairie Island shutdown is a result of the discovery during a test that the emergency diesel generators were inoperable. They are part of the plant’s safety system and would be required if electricity from offsite were lost. Workers closed the Monticello plant after discovering leakage which was apparently caused by a failing gasket on a pipe flange. Xcel said the leaked material was contained within the containment structure.”

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Comments (6)

  1. Submitted by Robert Moffitt on 08/15/2012 - 08:50 am.

    And yet the lights stay on…

    “Xcel has taken two of the state’s three nuclear plants off-line.”

    And yet the lights stay on (with the possible exception of Valleyfair). So tell me again why Minnesota needs nukes?

  2. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 08/15/2012 - 10:21 am.

    More bad news for EducationMN

    The court’s ruling has no effect for school districts with legitimate proposals, but it is yet another nail in the coffin for the teacher’s union.

    No longer will they be able to advance confusing, specious papspew to further pad their nests. Appeals for more funding must pass a litmus test of honesty and accuracy.

    It’s the end of “Do It For The Children”, and not a minute too soon.

    • Submitted by Bill Gleason on 08/16/2012 - 07:59 am.

      More bad news for Mr. Swift

      You have completely misinterpreted the Strib editorial referred to in the summary above. I suggest that you read it.

      The point is that school boards and superintendents who have to ask for and justify requests for referenda must report their activity and expenses if it falls outside of legitimate information provision.

      “…nail in the coffin for the teacher’s union.
      No longer will they be able to advance confusing, specious papspew to further pad their nests. Appeals for more funding must pass a litmus test of honesty and accuracy.”

      The Supreme Court decision does no such thing.

      This decision has absolutely nothing to do with political advocacy efforts by Education Minnesota in support of referenda requests.

      See, for example:

      “Your local may be eligible for a grant from the Education Minnesota Political Action Committee (PAC) to help you pass a levy or bond referendum or support candidates in a school board election.”

      Local Election Assistance Program for 2011-12
      link: http://bit.ly/RXWVhp

      Please do your homework.

  3. Submitted by Jackson Cage on 08/15/2012 - 10:27 am.

    Listen for the deafening silence…

    from the Climate Deniers on this site.

  4. Submitted by Mike Lhotka on 08/15/2012 - 10:37 am.

    Both sides confident of control

    What about the majority of people toward the middle? It’s all about the party structure and power, and little about the people.

  5. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 08/15/2012 - 04:05 pm.

    If Shelon Adelson or the Koch Brothers, et al

    Gave money to a local school district to be used to support a referendum, would they finally have to reveal their contributions?

    Or does a school district have to set up it’s own “social welfare organization” in order to keep their spending secret (you know, like Carl Rove’s “American Crossroads” organization)?

    Perhaps they could just register it quick and dirty as a corporation located in the Caymen Islands and REALLY keep it secret.

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