Minnesota lawmakers beat the clock, barely

They beat the clock. A team of Star Tribune reporters details the last hours of the 2013 legislation session: “Minnesota DFL legislators scrambled to patch together the final budget measures late Monday night, charting a dramatic new course for the state. With five minutes in the 2013 legislative session to spare before the midnight deadline, the Senate voted 36-30 to pass a $2.1 billion tax bill that ushers in a higher taxes on the wealthy and smokers. Legislators also approved an eleventh-hour proposal to rehabilitate the State Capitol and pay for flood control in outstate Minnesota, each with strong bipartisan support. For DFL Gov. Mark Dayton, several watershed victories were achieved, including his campaign pledge of taxing the state’s wealthiest wage-earners to balance Minnesota’s budget.

Unionized day-care … The Wall Street Journal’s Mark Peters and Chris Maher say that new Minnesota legislation gives “organized labor a rare victory at the state level.” The measure would allow unions to try to organize workers who provide home day-care services and other home care: “The state House, by a vote of 68 to 66, passed legislation Monday that allows [workers to decide if they want] unions to negotiate on behalf of providers whose clients receive government subsidies — including through Medicaid, the federal health program for low-income and disabled people. Minnesota’s Senate passed the bill last week. A spokeswoman for Gov. Mark Dayton, of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, said he would sign it into law. … Unions haven’t won many victories in state legislatures in the past few years and instead have been largely occupied with fending off right-to-work bills and other measures — backed mostly by Republicans — that would cut unions’ ability to represent workers and collect dues.”

In the PiPress, Megan Boldt says: “The House gallery full of union supporters erupted in cheers, a violation of chamber rules, when the bill was approved on a 68-66 vote. And their response prompted outrage from Republicans, who have been fighting the measure all session arguing it’s just the DFL’s political favor to organized labor that helped them grab the majority in last fall’s election. ‘Just let them cheer. They own the place,’ shouted Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, after the eruption. … The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees is organizing in-home child care providers, the focus of much of the debate. Personal care attendants are being organized by the Service Employees International Union.”

So you mean some these people weren’t already drunk? The AP reports: “Your favorite brew may soon be available for purchase at the Minnesota State Capitol. The Legislature passed a bill Monday, May 20, that includes a provision that directs the city of St. Paul to issue an on-sale wine and malt liquor license to the Capitol cafeteria. The bill now goes to Gov. Mark Dayton. The Capitol’s basement cafeteria is a German-style rathskeller cafe. It was restored to its original design in 2000. It even has a painted slogan on the ceiling, in German, that urges visitors to enjoy an adult beverage.” Six drinks and you get to vote on the next stadium financing idea.

With hours to go last night, Brian Bakst and Patrick Condon of the AP were saying: “Smaller policy bills flew through under the wire, including an election bill that authorizes no-excuse absentee voting and a campaign finance bill to increase the size of contributions that Minnesota candidates can accept from individuals. Democrats reluctantly declared a bill aimed at school bullying a casualty of the dwindling clock. Sen. Scott Dibble, the Minneapolis Democrat pushing for the new bullying policy, complained that Republicans stonewalled his bill by pledging a lengthy debate. “This is a political agenda and kids lose out,” he said.Senate Minority Leader David Hann and his fellow Republicans said they feared it would burden schools with new state requirements and open them up to potential lawsuits.”

The GleanBut Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk was making noises about staying until … as Baird Helgeson writes in the Strib: “Bakk said Monday night he will not end the session until they pass a measure to pay for a State Capitol restoration. ‘It appears the House was willing to go home without the Capitol, but that’s just not acceptable to me,’ said Bakk, DFL-Cook. ‘I was not going to go home without the Capitol being done.’ House Republicans were able to defeat a $800 million borrowing package that included the Capitol renovation and a raft of other projects. House Democrats have been trying to cobble together a stripped-down measure with only the Capitol and a few other projects that the GOP could embrace.”

In Salon, Mary Elizabeth Williams covers the GOP’s battle against … battling bullies: “Congratulations, Minnesota. Nearly three years after Anoka High School student Justin Aaberg hanged himself after allegedly being subjected to anti-gay harassment, state Republicans seem to have decided that bullying is no longer a problem. The Pioneer Press reports Monday that an anti-bullying bill has been withdrawn ‘after Republicans said they planned 10 hours of debate on the issue.’ Using mean, aggressive measures to get your way over a bullying bill? Anyone else feel an Alanis Morissette verse coming on? … The state’s House passed the anti-bullying bill earlier this month. But its progress may have been impeded by, of all things, the tremendous recent progress for LGBT rights. Last week, Minnesota became the 12th state to approve marriage equality, a victory that has left many conservatives angry and frustrated.” You can’t buy that kind of bad PR.

 “Duped,” he says! John Welbes’ PiPress story on the latest Petters defendant says: “James Fry, the last defendant related to the Tom Petters Ponzi scheme, went on trial Monday, May 20, on fraud charges that could put him in prison for decades. Other than Petters, Fry is the only person charged related to the case who did not plead guilty. The 59-year-old investment manager — who raised billions of dollars that were invested in the Petters scheme — claims he was duped, along with other sophisticated investors. ‘Just because you’re rich doesn’t mean you can’t be scammed,’ Joe Friedberg, his defense attorney, said during his opening statement Monday in federal court in St. Paul. Fry was ‘under the ether’ of the Petters Ponzi scheme, believing that the solid returns would continue, Friedberg said.” Was that the “Greed” brand of ether?

“The Lex” has been sold … again. Jess Fleming of the PiPress says: “John and Michelle Hickey, who bought the Lex about two years ago, were the fourth set of owners since the restaurant opened in 1935. There is no word yet on who the fifth owners are, though a news release describes them as a ‘St. Paul-based restaurant group.’ ‘I wish I could tell you who they were,’ John Hickey said. ‘They’ve been successful entrepreneurs in the past, and they’re going to put a lot of their effort into this thing. … They’re trying to get their ducks in a row as to what they’re going to do so they can answer questions.’ This much we do know: The restaurant will close May 31 for renovations and will reopen in the fall. A rooftop patio might be part of that. Current staff will be laid off and encouraged to reapply for their jobs when the restaurant reopens, according to a news release.” They won’t move Ron Rosenbaum’s table, will they?

Don’t cut or eat the cheese … The AP says: “Minnesota health officials say more than two-dozen people have been sickened by eating raw Mexican-style cheese. The Minnesota Department of Health said Monday, May 20, at least 25 Minnesotans became sick with salmonella linked to eating queso fresco made with unpasteurized cheese. The state health department, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and the city of Minneapolis have been investigating the outbreak and the source of raw milk since the first cases were detected in early April. Of the 25 cases, 15 were hospitalized. All have recovered.”

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Comments (11)

  1. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 05/21/2013 - 09:49 am.

    After Ten Years of Gov. Pawlenty and the Republicans

    doing everything in their power to operate the state of Minnesota in favor of the biggest, wealthiest, most self-serving business and financial executives,…

    in the delusional belief that what’s good for the richest among us is good for ALL of us,…

    attempting to re-shape Minnesota, not in response to the actual issues that exist here, but in response to Grover Norquist and ALEC, neither of whom knew anything about Minnesota, nor cared in the least what the issues in our state were,…

    our Republican friends reveal their true colors for all to see when they let their paranoid hatred of working people, especially those who believe they deserve decent pay and benefits,…

    to cause them to go apoplectic on the floor of the MN legislature.

    I hope EVERY worker in the state recognizes the reality of what the Republican hatred of unions means: They HATE you if they have to pay you a wage (only owners and managers deserve decent compensation). They believe you should work for nothing. Then, when you’re no longer able to work, they hope you’ll just wander off and die somewhere out of sight.

    UNIONS are NOT the enemy of the average person (despite what your daddy may have been deluded into teaching you). Owners and managers are the natural enemy of workers.

    All we have to do is look at the stagnation and reduction in the wages of average workers since Ronnie Raygun started leading the Republican war on unions to realize that, without strong unions the workers of our nation inevitably get cheated out of the just proceeds of their labor,…

    while management, financiers, and the rentier class rearrange our nation and state’s economy to gather all the proceeds of everyone else’s labor into their own pockets even as they arrange by a thousand tax shelters, tax cuts, and tax avoidance schemes not to pay any taxes on their incomes.

    Indeed, if the proceeds of our economy were distributed as income to the population in the same proportion that it was in the 50s, 60s and 70s, we would have NO state or federal budget problems because the workers receiving the income they USED to get back in our nation’s most broadly prosperous period would actually be PAYING the taxes on that income,…

    instead of cheating the rest of us out of the tax income they ought to be paying.

    • Submitted by James Hamilton on 05/21/2013 - 12:43 pm.

      Not natural enemies.

      As someone who’s lived on all sides of the labor market and had successful relationships with owners, employees and managers, I was appalled by the vitirol reflected in this post. We are not natural enemies. In fact, logic suggests we have more common interests than conflicts. Sadly, too many of us refuse to consider the opportunities for mutually beneficial relationships.

      From my perspective, the decline in union membership is due at least as much to workers’ lack of support as any governmental or political efforts. It’s workers who have decertified unions or, when union contracts have been voided by major corporations in bankruptcy court, who have failed to use the tools available to them to re-organize. Unions, too, must shoulder their share of blame for the perception that they’ve been unreasonable in their demands and failed to evolve with technology and the economy. Too often, they’ve been about delaying the inevitable instead of adapting to it.

      Perpetuating the idea of workers and owners as enemies does no one any favors.

      • Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 05/21/2013 - 03:00 pm.

        Once Management and Owners Limited Their Perspective

        to the idea that “maximizing shareholder/owner value” (and, of course profit and executive compensation) was the ONLY purpose of business enterprises,…

        and decided that they had ZERO responsibility for the well being of their workers, their customers, nor the communities in which they were located, they made themselves the enemies of workers and the general public.

        The current state of our economy and the reduction in the standard of living of working class people throughout the nation, as compared to the 50s, 60s and 70s,…

        shows that whatever they told themselves their intentions were,…

        the manger/owner classes of this country have proven themselves to be our enemies.

        This is NOT vitriol. It is reality. It likely only seems harsh to those who have largely been on the owner/manager side of the equation and are loathe to admit the damage they have done to our nation and its people.

        The unions may have brought some of the reduction in union power upon themselves through overreach, but it was far more due to “conservatives” scapegoating unions as the cause of the discomfort of those who find it very difficult to take direction from others and promising them greater “freedom” outside of union membership that was the primary culprit,..

        the only freedom involved having now been proven to be the freedom to be taken of advantage by management that is now under no pressure to pay workers what they’re worth,…

        based on comparisons to the most desperate workers they can find anywhere else in the world.

        If the owner/manager class doesn’t like feeling the enmity they have brought upon themselves, they are certainly quite capable of changing their behavior and encouraging their cohorts to change their behavior. Lacking that such enmity continues to be well deserved.

      • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 05/28/2013 - 09:28 am.

        Enemies vs. adversaries

        Economically, while workers and managers and/or owners should not be enemies, they are definitely adverse to one another. The reason is that each’s financial interests are in true conflict with one another. At least usually. On some occasions, a business treats the worker as having more interest in the company than most companies do. This is usually mutually beneficial, but the trend has not been to perpetuate such a symbiosis. So, in the end, unions have gone by the wayside as companies treat them like enemies and lawmakers do the same. In addition, many unions have created their own negative image by having leadership that behaves immorally. However, this doesn’t make all unions bad nor does it make all union members immoral. In the end, though, the trend of treating workers as only an expense has made unions more necessary.

  2. Submitted by Jim Halonen on 05/21/2013 - 10:05 am.

    What will higher taxes do?

    If higher tobacco taxes cause smokers to quit, what will increasing taxes on high income earners do?

    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 05/21/2013 - 10:16 am.

      Well if your analogy plays out

      Hopefully it causes them to quit their vampiric draining of wealth from the middle class, as its obvious they have a strong addiction to it.

    • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 05/21/2013 - 10:29 am.

      Maybe they’ll quit smoking, too.

      They’re sure not going to quit the love of money.

      • Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 05/21/2013 - 11:04 am.

        That “Love of Money”

        being “the root of all kinds of evil.” [I Timothy 6:10; NRSV],…

        as we have so clearly seen in our state and nation over the past few decades.

  3. Submitted by Jim Halonen on 05/21/2013 - 12:28 pm.

    After this session…

    who ‘loves money’? Seems its the DFL.

    • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 05/21/2013 - 02:31 pm.

      Perhaps the DFL does love money, but they are open about the fact that they intend to use to to provide for the citizens of Minnesota. The MNGOP, on the other hand, *worships* money, and those who have the most of it; typically to the detriment of the citizens of Minnesota..

    • Submitted by Logan Foreman on 05/21/2013 - 08:21 pm.

      Viewing the GOP’s track record

      The silliest comment of the day.

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