WHAT’S COMING UP
DAYTON: Gov. Mark Dayton‘s schedule today consists of meetings with commissioners and staff.
WHAT HAPPENED YESTERDAY
SESSION PLAN: Gov. Mark Dayton wants to hold a one-day special session to deal with storm damage relief and little else, according to the Star Tribune. Despite GOP calls for a repeal of the business-to-business warehousing tax, Dayton said the session should be focused on passing a spending bill to aid the 18 counties hit by late June rain and wind storms. Dayton wants the session to come shortly after Labor Day (September 2), adding that he had made his offer to legislative leaders and had not yet heard back.
DAYCARE SUIT APPEAL: Opponents of new legislation that would allow daycare operators to form collective bargaining units have appealed their lawsuit against the state, according to the Associated Press. The group of daycare workers who oppose the unionization law will take their case to the Eight Circuit Court of Appeals, where they will argue that the establishment of unions and the collection of dues amounts to a violation of their First Amendment rights. The plaintiffs are seeking an injunction to block the enactment of the controversial law, which faced Republican filibusters in both the House and Senate before passage. The original suit was dismissed by U.S. District Court Chief Judge Michael Davis, who agreed with the state’s argument that the plaintiffs could not claim injury because the unions had yet to be formed.
MAJORITY OUT OF MONEY: Minnesota Majority, the leading advocacy group behind the unsuccessful voter ID constitutional amendment, might have to shut its doors if its supporters don’t start donating money. According to an emergency missive that arrived in inboxes yesterday, the group needs $20,000 before week’s end in order to remain solvent. The email message said donors have been reluctant to contribute this year, blaming a “general malaise” brought on by the 2012 election results. Those elections included the defeat of the amendment that would have required a valid government-issued ID to be presented at voting booths. The voter ID proposal failed with 46 percent support, having been opposed by an alliance of liberal advocacy and labor union groups, among others, with Minnesota Majority leading the charge in favor of the amendment.
MILLER OUT OF THE GATE: 1st Congressional District Republican Aaron Miller began introducing himself to voters with a first round of campaign events yesterday, according to the Mankato Free Press. Miller is a 27-year veteran of the Army Reserves, a career that has included tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, and has risen to the rank of Command Sergeant Major. Miller also works in biopharmaceutical sales. In his opening salvo as a candidate, Miller expressed his concern over rising debt and the impact of taxes on individuals and businesses. He also said that if elected, he would join the effort of some House Republicans to defund the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. “It’s not working, and it’s not going to work,” Miller said. The first-time candidate also said he would abide by the Republican endorsement process, a pledge that the other GOP CD 1 candidate, Rep. Mike Benson, R-Rochester, has yet to make.
SIMON RUNNING, AND, IF NOT, STILL RUNNING: Rep. Steve Simon, DFL-Hopkins, officially launched his candidacy for secretary of state’s Office yesterday, saying he intended to carry on the state’s legacy of “voter turnout, voter access, and voter engagement.” In a subsequent interview with Politics in Minnesota, Simon affirmed he would abide by the DFL endorsement, adding that he would still run for reelection to the state House if he loses the party nod for secretary of state. Simon’s St. Louis Park-area district is one of the safer liberal areas in the state, and last year he won reelection by more than 40 percent.
BOND SALE: The state carried out three rounds of general obligation bond sales yesterday. Some $273 million in general obligation bonds, $200 million worth of trunk highway bonds and $5 million in taxable bonds were sold at true interest costs of 3.35 percent, 3.34 percent and 1.91 percent, respectively, according to a statement from Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB). “We had very competitive bids, with nine or ten firms vying for each issue,” said Kristin Hanson, the MMB assistant commissioner who oversaw the sales. Last week, Moody’s Investors Services upgraded the state’s outlook on long-term debt, citing “strong financial management … and budget balancing solutions that are largely recurring.”
GOODHUE MORATORIUM: Goodhue County commissioners voted yesterday to extend a moratorium on frac sand mining for at least another six months, according to Minnesota Public Radio. The decision goes against the recommendations of a committee that carried out a $73,000 study of silica mining. That committee had said the county should merely see out the restriction in place now, which would expire in September. Earlier this summer, commissioners approved limited frac mining following the end of the current moratorium.
MMB ASSISTANT COMMISH: Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) announced the hiring of Mary Cordes to serve as assistant commissioner on labor relations and state contracts, meaning she will be charged with negotiating employee contracts with 30,000 public workers, including those affiliated AFSCME and MAPE. Cordes has a background in labor negotiations oversight for Ramsey County and the cities of Minneapolis and Lakeville, and earned a J.D. from Hamline University. Cordes will replace Barbara Holmes, who had served as assistant commissioner since 2009.
ORGANIC PROGRAM: Farmers who want to take advantage of a state program to help transition to organic farming must be certified for participation by December 31, according to KSTP. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is offering rebates of up to $750 per year over the next three years to assist in the process. Minnesota might be the first state to offer such a program, according to MDA administrator Meg Moynihan. “The switch [to organic farming] takes about 36 months,” Moynihan said. “And during that time, we heard from a lot of farmers that they felt like they were kind of flying without a net.”
AND THE LAWYERS REJOICED: Courtesy of WCCO comes the story of one of Minnesota’s first same-sex divorces — though not as the result of some days-later regret following gay marriage’s legalization last week. Minnesota woman Dawn Tuckner wed her partner in Canada in 2004, but was unable to get a divorce recognized in this state before August 1. Following the resolution of her split, Tuckner plans to get remarried under the new state law.
BEGINNING OF A MOVEMENT?: It appears not everyone is satisfied with the current crop of GOP gubernatorial candidates. DFL U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson‘s communications director, Allison Stock Myhre, spotted and tweeted a lone, homemade sign posted at the edge of some farmland, which reads, “Draft [Marty] Seifert 4 Gov.” Seifert, a former House minority leader, is known to be on the fence about joining that race; it is unclear if he is aware of this sign.