Following up on his story on House Speaker Kurt Daudt’s personal finances, Brian Bakst at MPR adds: “Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Daudt insists he got no special treatment from debt collectors who sued him over late credit card payments. … Some are questioning whether Daudt got a better deal than other debtors. And they want to know if the law firm in those cases played favorites because it also has a lobbying wing. Daudt rejects that notion. ‘All it is is speculation,’ Daudt said. ‘There is a firm apparently that has a debt collection arm and a lobbying arm. I’m quite certain the debt collection arm had no clue who I was.’”
Elsewhere, reviews of day one at the legislature were not good. Rachel Stassen-Berger of the PiPress says, “ … any hopes that this year’s pre-election session would be one of agreement died nearly as soon as the last words of the opening prayers were uttered. ‘Every session is an opportunity to make progress, and I think that’s what we’re going to be looking for this session, but it didn’t get off to a very good start,’ said Lt. Gov. Tina Smith.”
At WCCO-TV Pat Kessler says, “State lawmakers picked up right where they left off last year, signalling a divisive election year session. Hundreds of construction workers aren’t slowing down as lawmakers returned — the building chaos meant unusually tight quarters, and the opening prayer included a nod to frayed nerves. … One issue lawmakers had hoped to solve, but didn’t, was a bill extending unemployment benefits to suffering steelworkers on the Iron Range. Furious Democrats accused Republicans of adding a ‘poison pill,’ linking the legislation to a major business tax cut.”
Meanwhile, Pat Garofalo is going after the caucus system. The MPR story says, “After heavy turnout and long lines around Minnesota on Super Tuesday, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are now agreeing on one thing: Minnesota should switch from caucuses to primaries. Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, said he’ll introduce legislation this session to make the switch. Garofalo said the caucus system does not work in a presidential year, because too many locations are inadequate for the crowds. … DFL Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk echoed this, saying he would co-author a bill to make Minnesota a presidential primary state.”
And on those ridiculous security lines at the airport, Allison Sherry of the Strib reports, “Minnesota’s top politicians said Tuesday they’re dissatisfied with the federal response to solving extreme security screening delays at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. … The federal politicians tend to be skeptical of the budget-strain argument because in the past year, Congress gave the TSA nearly $1 billion more … than the agency requested for screening operations.”
We’re pretty good on gender equality. A Bloomberg story says, “Gender parity in the workplace may still be a long way off, but in some states women’s voices are louder than elsewhere. Maryland is the most gender-equal state in the United States, with Vermont second and Minnesota, Connecticut and Hawaii rounding out the top five, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The ranking is based on the female-versus-male pay ratio, women’s labor participation rates, college degree holders, health coverage and poverty levels. For women in Oklahoma, Mississippi and Louisiana, the picture is bleakest.” But do they have a job-killing tax rates?!
Sort of in the same vein, Christina Cauterucci at Slate puts up a piece analyzing Twitter chatter around the country for derogatory references to women, gays and minorities. “Louisiana is home to the people who tweet derogatory slurs with the highest frequency in the country, according to a new analysis from online apartment-finder Abodo. Searching from a list of pejorative terms for women and black, Latino, LGBTQ, overweight, and intellectually disabled people, Abodo found and mapped millions of tweets published from June 2014 to December 2015. About one in every 87 tweets from Louisiana contained a slur traditionally used against these demographic groups, with Nevada, Texas, Maryland, and Delaware rounding out the top five.” Minnesota came in at #43 … in deragatoriness.
Nick Ferraro in the PiPress reports, “Eagan police on Tuesday were investigating the apparent suicide of a former West St. Paul bank manager charged last week with embezzling more than $1.1 million from customers. Cynthia Van Dusartz, 55, of Eagan apparently hanged herself Sunday in her garage, police said.”
This is important, apparently. Says David La Vaque in the Strib, “Just three seasons after creating the Minnesota United FC brand, local professional soccer seems headed for a name reboot. ‘Minnesota FC’ is the name Major League Soccer registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Feb. 18, according to the Empire of Soccer blog.” The upside? All new merchandise.
Paul Douglas was back on KARE-TV, albeit briefly. Lindsey Seavert writes, “As the Twin Cities reached a record temperature of 70 degrees in early March, many Minnesotans rejoiced the end of the snow blower season. ‘Love it or hate it, welcome to the new Minnesota winter,’ said Paul Douglas, Twin Cities meteorologist and founder of Aeris Weather in Eden Prairie. … ‘I tell people, my opinion, we are still going to have old fashioned pioneer winters like we had in the 1970s, but there are going to become increasingly rare, what is going to be more typical, is shorter slushier winters, fewer subzero nights,’ said Douglas.” The downside? More riff raff moving in.
Tough couple days for Twin Metals mining. The AP says, “One day after Gov. Mark Dayton dealt a serious blow to a proposed copper-nickel-precious metals mine near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, a federal agency handed the company another setback Tuesday by concluding that it’s not automatically entitled to renew two important minerals leases.”