2019 Minnesota Legislature opens with preview of conflicts to come

MinnPost photo by Peter Callaghan
Minnesota House of Representatives

MPR’s Briana Bierschbach writes: “On the ceremonial opening day of the 2019 legislative session, first-time members took the oath of office, the House and Senate picked new leaders and legislators dressed for the first day giddily took selfies with their families and friends on the floor. But just a few hours into the formalities on Tuesday, the Minnesota Legislature quickly went back to its old ways, with a lengthy House debate about process, partisanship and previews of the conflict ahead. ‘Welcome to the Minnesota House,’ new DFL House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler said from the floor, after a debate broke out about temporary rules that the Republican minority argued make the process less transparent.

Also for MPR, Mark Zdechlik reports, “Hundreds of federal court employees in the District of Minnesota will soon have to work without pay if the partial government shutdown drags on. Chief Judge John Tunheim is among them. Tunheim said there are enough funds to cover paychecks through this week and possibly into early next week. After that, he says he’ll designate all federal court employees as ‘essential,’ meaning they will be compelled to work without pay. … ‘We have a relatively lean workforce and I think everyone is really necessary to continue the mission of the court.’”

From the AP: “Andrew Wiggins had a season-high 40 points and 10 rebounds, and the Timberwolves beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 119-117 on Tuesday night in Ryan Saunders’ first game as Minnesota’s interim coach. Saunders, just 32 years old, is the son of former Timberwolves head coach Flip Saunders. The team fired Tom Thibodeau on Sunday.

In the Star Tribune, Chris Serres and Kelly Smith write, “Across Minnesota, the indefinite government shutdown is tightening its grip on federal workers, their families and local economies. With no end in sight, thousands of workers who perform vital jobs — such as screening passengers at airports, guarding prisoners or inspecting food or drug manufacturers — face missed paychecks Friday. More than 750 federal workers in Minnesota have already applied for unemployment benefits, and farmers across the state are growing anxious over delays in federal subsidy payments and loans.”

In the Pioneer Press, Frederick Melo writes, “Homeowners in a grassy area of St. Paul’s Macalester-Groveland neighborhood successfully rallied last year to block a city street project to add a series of sidewalks where none existed. A few weeks later, the city informed property owners they had won their fight to stop the sidewalk construction. But they now may have a lengthy wait for street reconstruction — possibly decades. As a result of their petition, St. Paul Public Works moved their corner of the city to the bottom of a long list of streets scheduled for full reconstructions and utility upgrades within the St. Paul Street Paving Program.

In a piece for City Pages, Jay Boller writes, “The City Pages Reader Insight Action Desk has determined that Twin Citians care most passionately about a singular issue: Whether or not Uptown is dead. Just look at the debate that’s currently raging over the once-hip Minneapolis neighborhood’s pulse.  Some folks contend Uptown died when the Uptown Bar — the beloved punk hangout that hosted Nirvana and the Replacements — became an Apple Store. Others think it croaked when dining institution Figlio bit it. Twice. At least one weirdo points to the Gap closing.”

Also in City Pages, this from Hannah Jones, “Your friends from out of town have all been asking: Is this it? Is this muggy, foggy, snowless weather the infamous Minnesota winter? And of course, if you’re from here, you know it isn’t. Not even close. December was one of the warmest in the history of the state, dating back to 1885. … Somewhere deep down, in a place we only keep our anxieties about the sun exploding and Betty White dying, you’ve probably had the thought Minnesota Department of Natural Resources climatologist Kenny Blumenfeld describes: ‘Oh my gosh, this is it — this is the end of winter,’ he says.”

At Deadspin, David Roth says, “It was not a bad or even a strange idea for Sports Illustrated to have Greg Bishop spend four months of the NFL season with the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings nearly made the Super Bowl in 2017 on the strength of the NFL’s best defense, then went on to swap out Case Keenum for alarmingly remedial grillmaster and far superior passer Kirk Cousins under center and hire a new offensive coordinator away from the Super Bowl champion Eagles; all the usual caveats apply in the usual ways, but the team seemed a likelier bet to continue to improve than instantaneously turn back into the dang Minnesota Vikings whenever the piece was assigned. … But it’s GM Rick Spielman, over the course of one brief but action-packed paragraph, who most thoroughly reveals himself to be a true madman.”

To wit, from Bishop’s story in SI:“Spielman follows the same routine before every Vikings home game, and this week against the Cardinals is no different. This is a how a general manager survives 13 NFL seasons, by tempering his anxiety and finding order in the chaos. He wakes up at 5 a.m. He takes his dogs for a walk, following the same route. He eats the same breakfast sandwich: fried egg, bacon and peanut butter on a wheat round. He shaves the left side of his face, then the right. He puts his shoes and socks on before his pants, leaves his house at the same time so he can arrive at the stadium at eight, follows the same route, stops at the same gas station, uses the same pump and makes sure always to end his purchase on a zero.”

Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by Marc Post on 01/09/2019 - 09:04 am.

    If the employee is essential then it’s essential they get paid. Common sense. How hard is it to understand that? We pay Congress and the President during shutdowns and they aren’t even doing their jobs.

    In other common sense news, new technology has rendered walls useless. Tech advances in ladders (used to climb things), ropes (used to climb mountains) allow them to defeat any wall at a fraction of the cost of the wall. Also, new shovel technology (shovels are used in mining) can be used to dig under any wall.

  2. Submitted by Richard Rowan on 01/09/2019 - 11:37 am.

    Court employees may have to work without pay, but I believe the Constitution requires that judges be paid. From Section III, Article 1:

    “The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services, a Compensation, which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.”

    IMHO, the Judicial Branch is not just another Executive Branch agency. The Constitution states that the Courts have an inherent right to perform certain functions. It’s unconstitutional for the other two branches to prevent the Judicial branch from performing those functions by withholding funding. I think the Court could issue an order requiring the US Treasury to make funds available for the Court to carry out those functions.

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