Dayton wants special session to help miners

MinnPost photo by Briana Bierschbach
Gov. Mark Dayton

Another day, another special session. The Pioneer Press’ Rachel E. Stassen-Berger reports: “Gov. Mark Dayton wants Minnesota lawmakers to return to work to help out-of-work miners. ‘I urge you to agree to our calling a special session of the Minnesota Legislature before the end of this year or early next year, before nearly 600 Minnesotans will have exhausted their unemployment benefits,’ Dayton said Wednesday in a letter obtained by the Pioneer Press. Minnesota has frequently extended unemployment benefits for workers in economic catastrophe. In his letter to Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk and House Speaker Kurt Daudt, Dayton noted that the 2015 Legislature extended certain benefits to steelworkers idled by international trade forces and to workers laid off because of this year’s Avian Flu outbreak on poultry farms.”

We’re thinking she might need those movers again. In the Star Tribune, Allison Sherry writes: “Kimberly Graves, the top St. Paul Department of Veterans Affairs official who recently refused to answer questions in front of a congressional panel, received an $8,697 bonus in 2014 — the same year she was under federal investigation for allegedly abusing her authority for personal gain. Graves’ bonus came after she received almost $130,000 in moving expenses to relocate from the East Coast to St. Paul last year — a move she orchestrated, according to a VA inspector general’s report. The report found that Graves also retained her $173,949 annual salary even though her job responsibilities were significantly diminished in the move to Minnesota.”

Also at the Legislature, the AP’s Brian Bakst gets the story on Senate Republicans decision not to move into their new building. “Minnesota’s Senate Republicans have decided against moving into a new office building for at least another year, their leader said Thursday. Senate Minority Leader David Hann told The Associated Press that his members concluded the relocation isn’t worth the hassle. The decision to spurn the three-story, $90 million Senate building also tracks with the GOP’s strong opposition to constructing it in the first place. ‘The consensus is right now people don’t see the reason to move,” Hann said. ‘There’s no need for the space we’re in. It is a disruption to move. There is a cost to the public to move. It is a very short session and we’ll have to move again after the next election.’ Hann said the caucus discussed the issue during a wider-ranging meeting last week. They didn’t take any votes but Hann said the message was clear.”

So why isn’t a hate crime a felony? MPR’s Mukhtar Ibrahim explains: “Anoka County will not use a hate crime law to prosecute a restaurant patron who allegedly assaulted a woman for speaking Swahili because it might lead to a conviction on a lesser charge. ‘We know that this was a crime that appears to be based on hatred and bias. We are considering that and we’ll keep analyzing what role that plays in sentencing,’ said Paul Young, criminal division chief of the Anoka County Attorney’s Office. ‘Unfortunately,’ he added, ‘based on our laws, if we charge the crime that has that title (hate) in it, we run the risk of a conviction of a lower level offense and we don’t want to do that.’ Prosecutors have already charged Jodie Burchard-Risch, 43, with felony third-degree assault in the attack two weeks ago against Asma Jama at an Applebee’s restaurant in Coon Rapids. As a hate crime, it would be considered a gross misdemeanor in Minnesota, Young said.”

Might seem alarming? For the PiPress, Elizabeth Mohr, writes: “The numbers might seem alarming: more than 3,000 rape kits sitting on shelves, untested, at law enforcement agencies across the state. And for more than 9 percent of those cases, the reason for not testing is ‘unknown.’ But police are quick to explain that a reasonable explanation often exists for not testing evidence collected after a sex assault is reported: Sometimes victims do not want to move forward with a case. Sometimes the suspect’s identity is not in question. Sometimes prosecutors decline to file charges. But on the off chance that untested kits should have been tested, legislation this spring required agencies to tally their numbers and review each case. The data, collected by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the state law enforcement agency that runs the state’s largest crime lab, were released Thursday.”

Ugh, protecting wolves— that’s so 1970s.  As the AP reports: “Two U.S. senators announced a renewed push Thursday to strip federal protection from gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region and Wyoming — and to prohibit courts from intervening in those states on the embattled predator’s behalf. Legislation introduced this week would order the Department of the Interior to reissue orders from 2011 and 2012 that dropped wolves in Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Wyoming from the endangered species list. ‘After over 30 years of needed protection and professional pack population management, the wolf has made its comeback,’ said Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, who sponsored the measure with fellow Republican John Barrasso of Wyoming. Similar legislation was introduced earlier this year in the House.”

An all-too familiar story. At KARE-11, Steve Eckert and A.J. Lagoe have a piece on local race organizer Team Ortho. “A Minnesota-based non-profit organization that claims it is “Helping Research One Race at a Time” actually donates only about a penny-and-a-half for every dollar it raises for medical research, according to financial records obtained by KARE 11 News. So, how much race money is going to research? To find out, KARE 11 checked the IRS forms all non-profit organizations have to file. The most recent report shows that in 2013 Team Ortho brought in $4,362,877. Of that, what went to charities like Shriners Hospital was just $72,700. A year earlier, it was a similar story. Of $3,599,851 raised, just $36,550 trickled down to charity. Do the math. The average amount going to charity is just a penny and a half out of every dollar raised.”

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Comments (10)

  1. Submitted by Pat Berg on 11/13/2015 - 07:47 am.

    Wolf legislation

    With respect to that legislation intended to strip federal protection from gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region and Wyoming: Does anyone know how common it is to craft legislation that prohibits courts from taking action? Or if any such legislation already exists?

    It doesn’t seem quite legitimate to say that the courts – whose job it is to review laws and ensure that they pass muster – can be barred from doing that via legislative edict.

    I know there are some legal types here. Anyone care to comment?

    • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 11/13/2015 - 08:32 am.

      Here’s the problem

      The congressmen are working on behalf of their farmer/rancher constituents who are afraid of losing even more livestock to a large and growing wolf population and because the people who seem to set the rules are unelected, out-of-touch interior department bureaucrats who could easily find a friendly and similarly out-of-touch federal judge who would agree with them.

      I think the wolf population should be controlled by farmers and ranchers with their Winchester 30-30s when their calves are under attack and not by government bureaucrats in Washington DC.

      • Submitted by Pat Berg on 11/13/2015 - 09:02 am.

        This question is more about the legal process than the wolves

        Yes, a judge can hand down a ruling someone doesn’t like. Happens all the time. That’s why the appeals process exists.

        What doesn’t seem legitimate to me is the attempt to make an end run around that process by writing into the legislation that judges are barred from examining and potentially overturning it. It appears to hobble one of the basic functions of our legal system, and I was curious as to whether this is a new tactic or is it one that has been employed before (and if so, has it stood up to scrutiny)?

      • Submitted by Bill Willy on 11/13/2015 - 12:47 pm.

        Or it could be the other way around

        When a person decides to invest in a livestock ranch in wolf country, and then gets all bent out of shape when wolves eat a few of their “under attack” calves, and start demanding their congresspeople and “unelected, out-of-touch bureaucrats and judges” grant them permission to start “managing the wolf population” by blashing holes in them and THEIR “calves” with Winchester 30-30s, it may not be unelected that are out-of-touch.

        It’s pretty much like moving your farm to the desert (where land prices and taxes are low) and then “demaning action” (and “rights” and payments from the gov) because the sun sucked up all the water and killed your crops.

        • Submitted by Russ Hilbert on 11/16/2015 - 04:20 pm.

          well

          Except that most of the farmers didn’t just move there but were born and raised there over a few generations. That’s a little different.

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 11/13/2015 - 10:16 am.

      Strike Baking

      Prior to the passage of the National Labor Relations Act, when employees went on strike the employer would go to a federal judge and the strike would nearly always be ruled illegal. Congress then took away the power of federal judges to declare strikes illegal.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 11/13/2015 - 10:46 am.

      It is Allowed

      Congress has the authority to strip the federal courts of jurisdiction to hear certain cases, under its authority to create lower courts and define the cases they may hear. It’s been done in some immigration and post-conviction criminal matters.

      It may be legal, but it isn’t right. It always looks like a red flag that the proponents know a law may not pass muster so no one gets to review it. Jurisdiction stripping is a blatant slap to the ideas of judicial review, judicial independence, and the separation of power.

  2. Submitted by Julie Barton on 11/13/2015 - 08:14 am.

    BCA & Rape Kits

    MPR also covered this story on the morning news. Here is the bit that made me angry (from mpr.org/news)”

    “Laura Taken-Holtze, spokesperson for the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault, said there shouldn’t be a “mad rush to get everything tested.”

    “If a victim wants that then yes, absolutely,” she said. “But if they don’t, then they shouldn’t be forced to have their kit tested when they’ve already been through the trauma of a rape.””

    Shouldn’t be forced to have their kit tested b/c they have already been traumatized? The whole rape kit process IS traumatizing and now you are saying it is done for no reason at all? The victims have already been violated, then to get the kits, they are violated and humiliated again as pictures are taken, scraping is done of their insides, and their pubic hair is combed for evidence. And now you aren’t going to test it because the science part of the test is traumatizing?

    Reports out of Texas, who is working through its backlog, show that testing is finding a very high number of repeat offenders (aka serial rapists). Isn’t that worth testing the kits by themselves? and loading the information to the national registry, as CODIS results also show that these serial rapists move across state lines (July 16 ’15 USA Today article – among others)

    I am not sure I agree that if the victim doesn’t want to prosecute the kit shouldn’t be processed, but I understand that more than the victim having to ASK for evidence to be checked. It is believed that only 6% of rapists ever spend time in jail: those odds do not lend towards the notoriety still attached with reporting a rape and seeking justice (RAINN.org). It seems to me that the BCA should be doing all it can to improve conviction rates, which would help women come forward (it is believed that less than 40% of rapes/attempted rapes are reported to the authorities nationwide).

    That is a spokesperson who doesn’t understand what it is like to be raped and report it. (I might still be a bit upset at her words….).

  3. Submitted by Bill Willy on 11/13/2015 - 12:14 pm.

    Is David Hann swimming in it?

    In April of 2014 (and countless other days, before and since), David Hann, who represents the people of Eden Prairie, said this about the new Senate Office Building:

    “It’s too expensive and lavish.”

    http://ecmpostreview.com/2014/04/23/senate-office-building-still-in-the-works-while-bills-wrap-up/

    In Novermber of 2013, the StarTribune said this:

    “Eden Prairie unveils updated designs, increased costs for new pools

    “In an earlier feasibility study, the city projected the two pools and renovations would cost $16.5 million. But last week, staff from HGA Architects presented updated designs, which include added fitness space, doubled spectator seating from 150 to 300 seats, a hot tub and changing the new lap pool from a 12-lane lap pool to two 8-lane lap pools based on community feedback. The new cost: an estimated $19.4 million.”

    http://www.startribune.com/eden-prairie-unveils-updated-designs-increased-costs-for-new-pools/233532891/

    David Hann said this about that: “______________”

    The population of Eden Prairie is 63,228.

    Cost of pools renovation per David Hann constituent: $300

    Cost of Senate office building: $90,000,000

    Population of Minnesota: 5,400,000

    Senate building cost per MN resident: $17

    The obvious question for Senator Hann is, if the Senate building is too expensive and lavish (and, of course, a waste of hard-working Minnesota taxpayer’s money) what are those pool renovations in the district he represents?

  4. Submitted by Bill Willy on 11/13/2015 - 12:26 pm.

    If there is special session, make it part of the deal

    “Gov. Mark Dayton revealed Thursday he will seek legislative permission to hire an outside law firm to examine the financing behind the proposed PolyMet Mining Corp. copper-nickel venture in northern Minnesota before his administration would issue a final permit.”

    http://www.minnpost.com/glean/2015/10/announcement-st-paul-soccer-stadium-expected-today

    Attach that “request for permission” to whatever help the state would be providing the people Global Commodities Traders (like Polymet’s non-partner partner) and, in turn, the mining industry, have busted, once again.

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