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The Capitol Note: Bill authors defend Ritchie’s online voter registration

Mike Mullen//November 13, 2013

The Capitol Note: Bill authors defend Ritchie’s online voter registration

Mike Mullen//November 13, 2013

Secretary of State Mark Ritchie faces a lawsuit over online registration.  (Staff photo: Peter Bartz-Gallagher)
Secretary of State Mark Ritchie faces a lawsuit over online registration. (Staff photo: Peter Bartz-Gallagher)

1.) Minnesota Management and Budget announced Tuesday afternoon that state revenue collections are about $54 million ahead of projections through the first four months of the 2014 fiscal year. The updated annual figure comes thanks to higher than expected tax collections for the month of October; the state pulled in $1.6 billion in revenues last month, roughly $56 million above earlier estimations. October income tax collections came in at $718 million, $30 million more than projected, while sales and corporate income taxes essentially matches expectations.

2.) A pair of ex-legislators have come out in support of Secretary of State Mark Ritchie‘s online voter registration system, with both saying Ritchie was correctly interpreting the relevant statute, according to Minnesota Public Radio. Former Rep. Matt Entenza and former Sen. Deanna Wiener, who now chairs the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board, said Ritchie is right in his assertion that online registration is allowed under the Uniform Electronic Transaction Act of 2000. The two DFLers co-sponsored that bill, and now say its parameters should include elections law, though that issue apparently did not arise during the debate over the legislation’s passage more than a dozen years ago. Wiener argued that, to her way of thinking, the  allowance of electronic signatures for business transactions should also apply to voting registrations. “If it’s done for businesses, I don’t understand why it couldn’t be done for voters.” Rep. Greg Davids, R-Preston, also an author of the original bill, disagrees, and said Ritchie was exploiting “a loophole that needs to be closed.” Conservative groups have filed suit against Ritchie’s new program, with a number of GOP House members signed on as co-plaintiffs.

3.) Gov. Mark Dayton released his tax returns yesterday, as did one of his more prominent opponents competing for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. Dayton disclosed $343,000 worth of income last year, the majority of which came from capital gains and investment dividends, according to the Star Tribune. Sen. Dave Thompson, R-Lakeville, also voluntarily published his earnings for 2012, disclosing $198,000 in combined income owing to legal work, Twin Cities Power LLC, his wife’s salary and his legislative pay. GOP hopeful Jeff Johnson also said he would make his tax returns public, though he said he would decline to include his wife’s income records, while fellow Republicans Rep. Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, and Scott Honour, were unresponsive to the newspaper’s inquiry.

  • The Senate Republican Caucus announced the appointment of Bill Walsh to the position of director of public affairs on Tuesday. Walsh has a long history working in communications roles for GOP figures, including press secretary gigs for former House Speaker Steve Sviggum and then-Majority Leader Tim Pawlenty, who late brought Walsh on for communications work at two state agencies in his administration. Walsh replaces Leslie Rosedahl, who moved to the Lockridge Grindal Nauen lobbying firm in September.
  • Advocates for a 5 percent increase in state funding for disability care held a rally in the Capitol rotunda on Tuesday. A bipartisan mix of legislators are supportive of the idea, including House Health and Human Services Finance Chairman Tom Huntley, DFL-Duluth, who named the funding boost as his top priority for the 2014 session, and Senate Minority Leader David Hann.
  • A pair of lawmakers are scheduled to be on hand for a discussion of MNsure’s operation so far and its near-term future at the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Rep. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, and Sen. Tony Lourey, DFL-Kerrick, will join professor Lynn Blewett for the event, which begins at 5:00 p.m. in the Humphrey Forum.
  • Beginning at 7:30 a.m., the Senate Capital Investment Committee will spend the day touring potential bonding bill fund sites in Minneapolis.
  • Gov. Mark Dayton will spend his day interviewing candidates for the Tenth Judicial District and holding private meetings with commissioners and staffers.
  • Yet another candidate has registered for the governor’s race, though the new entrant’s political leanings are presently undefined. David Allen Schmidt of St. Cloud registered his candidacy with the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board on Friday, listing “Other” for his political party affiliation.
  • The House Health and Human Services Committee and the Senate Health, Human Services and Housing Committee will hold a joint hearing at 12:30 p.m. to review practices on licensing and disciplinary action for the state Board of Nursing.


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