No deal — and no special session — in sight for Minnesota Legislature

MinnPost photo by Briana Bierschbach

Continuing to follow the chaos in St. Paul, David Montgomery of the PiPress writes, “One day after Gov. Mark Dayton let a roughly $300 million package of tax cuts expire without his signature, the governor huddled with top legislative leaders in an effort to strike an agreement that would salvage unfinished business from this year’s fractious legislative session. … After previously declaring his list of special-session demands non-negotiable, Dayton on Tuesday softened his stance and said he’d be willing to deal. Dayton wanted lawmakers to add $183 million to the $1 billion package of borrowed money for infrastructure projects lawmakers almost passed last month. Now he says he’s willing to take less, though he wouldn’t go into details about which projects he sees as essential and which he might be willing to drop.”

For MPR, Tim Pugmire and Brian Bakst say, “The governor said he would sign a tax bill that fixed the and-or error and also made permanent the Minnesota State High School League’s sales tax exemption on tickets and admissions to league-sponsored events. He was angered the Legislature did not extend the high school league’s tax break, which he said would have cost the league hundreds of thousands of dollars that it uses now to help fund high school sports in Minnesota. He also warned of reopening the tax bill beyond those two changes. ‘If they open it up, there’s going to be a free-for-all.’”  Unlike the standard operating procedure, you understand.

The ever hopeful Strib editorializes: “For Dayton to call legislators back into session, the agenda must include more than the tax bill, he said Tuesday. We concur. The chance to revive one other major bill left unfinished on May 23 — the bonding and transportation bill — ought not be wasted. …  A special session would be in order solely to make one more try at bringing Minnesota more than a billion dollars in infrastructure and public facilities investments.”

Not exactly reassuring. The nation’s top cop was in town and Matt Sepic at MPR reports, “Less than a week after a federal jury in Minneapolis found three Somali-American men guilty of trying to join ISIS, the head of the FBI said Minnesota is not the focus of anti-terror recruitment efforts, but counterterrorism remains the bureau’s top priority. Director James Comey met Tuesday with business and community leaders in the Twin Cities. During a brief news conference at the FBI’s field office in Brooklyn Center, Comey said terror recruitment is a problem across the country. ‘The bureau has close to 1,000 open cases in all 50 states focused on people who are at some stage between consuming the poison from the group we call ISIL to acting on that poison, either by traveling or moving toward violence here in the United States’.”

Prince News. Also at MPR, Tim Nelson says, “Attorneys for Prince’s estate and some of his potential heirs met in court Tuesday in Chaska, as the dispute over the music icon’s legacy heats up. There were 14 attorneys representing nine different parties. Most participated in the hearing via conference call.” These are contingency arrangements?

The jokes here practically write themselves. But Julio Ojeda-Zapata at the PiPress reports, “The Minnesota Twins in late July will allow 5,000 fans to tag along with a player at Target Field. They’ll be right alongside the player as he arrives at the ballpark, greets teammates in the clubhouse, warms up in a batting cage, hangs out in the dugout and — at last — heads out onto the field. That many fans cannot actually, physically accompany the player through his rounds, of course, but they’ll get the next best thing — access via ‘virtual reality,’ piped through a smartphone app.” So every fan, no matter how talented or uncoordinated can also feel, like a real Twin,  what it’s like to be completely overmatched by a major league curve ball.

Lambert got bounced. Says Jamie Delage in the PiPress, “The Mendota Heights City Council terminated the city’s most senior police officer Tuesday night following an internal investigation. Sgt. Bobby Lambert [no relation] was put on paid administrative leave in March and was officially terminated Tuesday night after an hour of impassioned pleas and endorsements from more than two dozen community members and fellow police officers. The overflow crowd applauded loudly when Lambert spoke and when others stepped forward to say that Lambert should stay and police Chief Mike Aschenbrener should be fired instead.”

Five miles high on bio-fuel. Stribber Mike Hughlett writes, “The first commercial jet flight powered with biofuel made in Minnesota took place on Tuesday. Gevo Inc. announced that Alaska Airlines scheduled two flights Tuesday using a fuel blend utilizing isobutanol produced at Gevo’s plant in Luverne, Minn. The isobutanol, fermented from corn, is converted into a jet fuel at Gevo’s biofuel refinery in southeast Texas.”

Good idea. Kristen Leigh Painter of the Strib says, “The former Walker Library in Minneapolis’ Uptown neighborhood, which was recently slated to become a restaurant, is now going to be an events center called The Mansion at Uptown, the building’s owner said Tuesday.”

And in that vein, Rick Nelson of the Strib reports, “The French accent is getting the au revoir treatment. The Gallic remake of the Town Talk Diner — Le Town Talk French Diner & Drinkery — is calling it quits after this Sunday’s brunch service. … New owners (and spouses) Kacey White and Charles Stotts plan to reopen the place on July 1st under a new name: Town Talk Diner & Gastropub.

Prepare yourself new rounds of braying and caterwauling. Christopher Snowbeck of the Strib writes, “Minnesota’s market for individuals and families to buy private health insurance has fallen far short of enrollment projections, and actually got smaller between December and March. Both factors … add to concerns that premiums could be on the rise again next year.” Of course by then, President Trump will have replaced Obamacare with “something better.”

That multi-million name petition to boycott Target? Eh. Not so much. Nico Lang for The Advocate writes, “Groups like Faith2Action and the American Family Association estimated that “a million protesters” would show up to picket Target, according to The Jackson Sun of Jackson, Tenn. That number matches a widely circulated petition from the AFA against the store’s trans-affirming policy; posted to the group’s website, the pledge allegedly stands at 1.3 million signatures. But those numbers are likely inflated, as ThinkProgress reported: The site allows users the petition to sign multiple times, so long as they use different email addresses. A much smaller number of objectors showed up on Saturday, with just a handful of news outlets reporting an anti-trans contingent outside their local Target. Locations included Jackson, Tenn; Temple, Texas; Mansfield, Ohio; Parma, Ohio; Ontario, Ohio; Brentwood, Mo. and Idaho Falls, Idaho. There was another event scheduled in Lubbock, Texas, but no one was in attendance, as local radio station FMX reports. The station called the event a ‘bust.’”  I certainly hope Faith2Action provided enough gender neutral Porta-Potties.

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