Empty gesturing counts for something, apparently. Says Don Davis of the Forum News Service on the budget impasse. “A public works funding bill a fraction the size Democrats want is headed to the full Minnesota House, with little time to pass it and maybe not enough votes. The House Ways and Means Committee late Saturday approved 14-9 a nearly $100 million bill, funded by the state selling bonds, to deal with avian flu, repay communities affected by last year’s floods and pay for unexpected expenses for the state Capitol building renovation project. Democrats on the committee spoke against the bill, saying that it will have trouble picking up the needed 81 votes when it comes up for a House vote.” When in danger of doing something, instead do nothing … that looks like something.
At MPR Catharine Richert says, “DFL Gov. Mark Dayton is telling Minnesota lawmakers to prepare for a special session, and he suggested they can meet in a tent on the Capitol lawn if construction in the Capitol building prohibits them from meeting there. Dayton repeated his intention Sunday to veto an education finance bill that is poised for passage in the House and Senate. He wants more money in the bill and a specific earmark for his universal preschool initiative.”
Richert also reports, “With less than two days left in the legislative session and Gov. Mark Dayton threatening to veto a school funding bill, President Barack Obama’s chief education official is trying to put pressure on legislators to cut a deal that Dayton will sign. ‘I am writing because of the extraordinary potential that high-quality preschool has to set children on a path to success in school and in life,’ wrote U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in a letter to House Education Finance Chair Jenifer Loon, R-Eden Prairie and Senate Education Chair Charles Wiger, DFL-Maplewood.”
In the PiPress, David Montgomery says, “ … as the door closes on the 2015 Legislative session, [health and human services funding] was resolved with a whimper, not a roar. Almost no controversial provisions from either side were adopted in the final deal, which was adopted shortly before 5 a.m. Sunday morning after a marathon but largely non-contentious hearing. MinnesotaCare will continue providing health care for Minnesota’s working poor. More than $500 million in cuts to human services programs were reduced to just $25 million. MNsure will remain largely the same, with neither DFL nor Republican proposals to seriously change the health insurance exchange’s governance adopted.”
Also a point of contention. The AP says, “Gov. Mark Dayton isn’t ready to back a compromise plan requiring buffer zones between farmland and Minnesota waterways. Lawmakers, agriculture groups and the governor have worked for months to find agreement on one of Dayton’s top priorities this year to protect water from runoff. Some farmers balked at Dayton’s original proposal to require 50-foot buffers along all waterways. A tentative agreement reached early Sunday morning would require 50-foot buffers along public rivers and lakes and a smaller setback along private ditches … .”
The Strib is not pleased. “This newspaper prefers preschool scholarships for needy children rather than an expansive new public school program. But we concur with Dayton to this extent: The Legislature’s proposed $60 million over two years for preschoolers, to be split between school districts and scholarships for needy children, will not stretch far enough. We’re rooting for a compromise that boosts that funding level while targeting children most in need. Scholarships would do that. So would a school district-based program, School Readiness, that has been too small for too long.”
Elsewhere … progress. Says Mark Brunswick in the Strib, “When newly minted nurse Samantha Woehrle sees a patient for something as simple as a headache, she’ll know to ask if the person sitting across from her has ever been in an explosion or exposed to Agent Orange. It may not be the usual line of questioning in the waiting room. But it makes sense if the patient is a veteran. For the first time, the University of Minnesota School of Nursing is graduating a group of nurses skilled in tending to the health needs of the nation’s veterans.”
New laws on license plate readers, not on body cams, says the AP: “Minnesota lawmakers have approved legislation imposing regulations on police agencies that use license plate readers, but they will wait for now to set new laws for body cameras. The compromise bill sent Sunday to Gov. Mark Dayton limits how long agencies can keep location data gathered by cameras on squad cars or at fixed locations. Data unrelated to active criminal investigations must be destroyed within 60 days. The collected data would be deemed nonpublic.”
In the New York Times, Erik Eckholm revisits the story of Jack Baker and Michael McConnell: “In 1970, in Minneapolis, Mr. Baker and Mr. McConnell became the first same-sex couple known to apply for a marriage license. Turned down by Hennepin County, they fought to the United States Supreme Court, where they lost their case in a one-sentence dismissal that has reverberated in federal courts and played an indirect role in pushing same-sex marriage to the high court this year.”
All they do is give. Says Christopher Gates at the Vikings fan site, the Daily Norseman: “The price tag for the new Minnesota Vikings’ stadium keeps going up and, as promised, the Wilf family has been footing the bill. Most of the price increases have had to do with the addition of amenities to the new stadium and enhancing the game day experience, and this recent expenditure is no different. The Wilf family is contributing another $14 million to the stadium effort. The majority of that money is going to go towards financing the television system inside the stadium, allowing over 2,000 HD monitors to be placed throughout. The rest of the money is going to go towards signage, lighting, and utility enhancements.”
Earlier. Related. Stribber Rochelle Olson writes, “All pro sports teams — especially the Vikings, as they build a pricey new stadium — want to give fans more than they can get at home. They want fans to abandon their comfy couches, stocked home refrigerators and high-tech home entertainment systems for the stadium experience. At the heart of the Vikings’ gameday fan plan is the concept of connectivity — to the Vikings’ brand, the players, each other. Team executives are deep into the work that experts say must be carefully tailored to the brand and the region, or risk leaving fans cold — or worse, bored.” After all, they’ve got the team for that.