WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY
11:30 a.m.: Joint Religious Legislative Coalition Day on the Hill Event. State Capitol Rotunda.
TODAY’S CAPITOL SCHEDULE
The Senate will be in session at 11 a.m.
The House will be in session at 3 p.m. and is expected to take up its nuclear moratorium bill.
HOUSE COMMITTEE HEARINGS
The Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee will hear HF 332, blocking any net increase in state land holdings, and HF 498, blocking reduction in state hunting land, at 8:15 a.m.
The Judiciary Policy and Finance Committee will hear HF 229, allowing judges to prohibit juvenile sex offenders from living near their victims, and HF 440, clarifying guidelines for license plate placement, at 8:15 a.m. The committee will also hear an overview of the governor’s proposed budget.
The Government Operations and Elections Committee will hear three bills at 10:15 a.m.: HF 281, increasing the amount of time for canvassing of primary election returns; HF 52, providing for zoning variances; HF 305, Northern Township detached facility authorized.
The Public Safety and Crime Prevention Policy and Finance Committee will hear a presentation of the governor’s budget proposal at 10:15 a.m.
The Health and Human Services Finance Committee will hear an overview of the governor’s Department of Health recommendations at 12:30 p.m.
SENATE COMMITTEE HEARINGS
The Finance Committee will hear from MMB Commissioner Jim Schowalter at 8:30 a.m.
The Taxes Committee will hear further presentation of the governor’s budget proposal at 8:30 a.m.
WHAT HAPPENED YESTERDAY
BUDGET: GOP-led committees began the task of tackling Gov. Mark Dayton’s budget proposal Wednesday, and at least two influential chairs were not impressed. Senate Taxes Chair Julianne Ortman (pictured right) repeatedly asked Matt Massman, the assistant commissioner for tax policy at the Department of Revenue, whether the administration had even considered the negative economic side effects of its tax proposal. “We’ve made a mistake if we’re not evaluating these proposals based on their economic impact,” she said.
Later in the hearing, Sen. Larry Pogemiller was coming to the defense of some of the proposals when Ortman shot back: “Sen. Pogemiller, you’re a pretty passionate proponent of this, will you be offering a bill?” Pogemiller quickly replied, “I haven’t been asked.” After the hearing, the DFL’s ranking Taxes member, John Marty, said he may carry the bill.
House Taxes Chair Greg Davids was similarly dismissive of the revenue proposal: “We’re gonna get this settled pretty quickly here,” he said of the budget deficit, chuckling, “the way he’s raising taxes.”
FLYAROUND: Here’s a selection of four headlines from the local newspapers where Dayton and GOP leadership took their message outstate Wednesday:
Duluth News Tribune: “Minnesota Gov. Dayton defends tax increase in budget plan.”
Mankato Free Press: “GOP: Dayton’s tax increase an outdated approach.”
Fargo Forum: “Dayton says he’s open to ideas, calls budget plan a ‘starting point’.”
Rochester Post-Bulletin: “GOP, Dayton visit Rochester to talk taxes.”
TRANSIT: MnDOT released its 2010 public transit report Wednesday. Find it here.
GOP: The state GOP said Wednesday it will host a presidential forum in early October later this year as part of the 2011 Midwest Leadership Conference.
CANCELED DUE TO INCLEMENT BUDGET? A day after the Dayton administration unveiled a tax hike package even DFLers were hesitant to support, a Humphrey Forum at the U of M featuring Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk was called off. His subject? The need for comprehensive tax reform. The cancellation notice cited “unforeseen events.”
MELIN IN ST. PAUL: Just a day after winning her special election, new House District 5B Rep. Carly Melin was in St. Paul for a labor rally and meet-and-greet news conference with the press corps. The 25-year-old Melin said she hopes to work on the Capital Investment and Jobs committees, and said she has an interest in getting the PolyMet mining project moving.
HEALTH CARE REFORM: Health care reform turned out activists at the House Health and Human Services Reform Committee Wednesday. Framing the issue as one of “state’s rights,” GOP Rep. Steve Gottwalt (pictured) advanced his Freedom of Choice in Health Care act (HF 199), which would require Minnesota to join a lawsuit against national health reform. Gottwalt amended the bill so that it no longer blocks the early Medicaid opt-in, which some said could make the bill more palatable should it reach the governor’s desk. Still, the prospect of Gov. Mark Dayton accepting a bill taking aim at the federal health law, which he’s stridently supported so far, is questionable. Longstanding health care activist Twila Brase appeared in support of Gottwalt’s bill, joined by a standing-room only crowd.
TEA PARTY TAKES: Tea Party activist/radio host Sue Jeffers called Gottwalt a “chicken” because he canceled testimony on another bill slated to be heard in the Health and Human Services reform Committee. That bill, HF 497, would enable the state to create health care exchanges. Jeffers said the bill was set to be heard first on the hearing agenda but was moved to last, and groused that Gottwalt had not returned a phone call to discuss the bill. We heard from those in the loop that Gottwalt postponed the meeting because he was afraid of not getting a quorum if he held a 6 p.m. meeting.
BUDGET BITS: A former Pawlenty-era appointee turned lobbyist pointed to a concern with Gov. Mark Dayton’s budget proposal. With the downturn in the housing market, she mused, is a $1 million home now an $800,000 home? And how does the state determine the value – on an assessment made in prior years, or on true, current market value?
WEDNESDAY’S COMMITTEE ACTIONS
HF 12: Changes to Green Acres program. Laid over in Property and Local Tax Division.
HF 199: Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act. Passed Health and Human Services Reform Committee. Referred to Government Operations and Elections.
HF 206: Changing the permanent school fund advisory committee membership. Passed Government Operations and Elections Committee. . Referred to House floor.
HF 211: Modifying unlawful trade practice actions. Passed Civil Law Committee. Referred to Judiciary.
HF 250: Changing claims against the state provisions. Passed Civil Law Committee. Referred to Ways and Means.
HF 262: Adding community paramedics to list of community health workers. Passed Health and Human Services Reform Committee. Referred to Ways and Means.
HF 299: Establishing an executive branch agency retained savings program. Passed Government Operations and Elections Committee. Referred to State Government Finance.
HF 370: Modifying youth intervention program grants. Laid over by Public Safety and Crime Prevention Policy and Finance Committee.
HF 387: Allowing Counties to participate in driver’s license reinstatement diversion pilot programs. Passed Public Safety and Crime Prevention Policy and Finance Committee. Referred to Judiciary.
SF 14: Establishing a Ramsey County outcome-based personal care assistance pilot project. Laid over by Health and Human Services Committee.
SF 114: Modifying unemployment insurance eligibility. Passed Finance Committee. Sent to Senate floor.
SF 203: Establishing an early graduation achievement scholarship program. Laid over in Education Committee.
SF 243: Fairness for Responsible Drivers Act. Passed Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee. Referred to Judiciary.
SF 268: Freezing and regulation of tuition increases at the University of Minnesota and MnSCU. Laid over by Higher Education Committee.
SF 299: Clarifying home solicitation sales regulation exclusion. Passed Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee. Sent to Senate Consent Calendar.