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The Capitol Note: Dayton, GOP battle over sex offenders continues

Mike Mullen//November 14, 2013

The Capitol Note: Dayton, GOP battle over sex offenders continues

Mike Mullen//November 14, 2013

Rep. Kurt Zellers has criticized Gov. Mark Dayton over plans to transfer or release sex offenders. (Staff photo: Peter Bartz-Gallagher.)
Rep. Kurt Zellers has criticized Gov. Mark Dayton over plans to transfer or release sex offenders. (Staff photo: Peter Bartz-Gallagher.)

1.) Gov. Mark Dayton is calling for a halt of the planned transfer of six convicted sex offenders from restrictive facilities to a less-secure site in Camrbridge, saying the state should wait for legislative action to define the proper course for releases.In explaining the decision during a Wednesday morning press conference, Dayton said the issue had become a “political circus,” and blamed electoral campaigning for the current heated climate around the issue. Rep. Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, one of the GOP candidates hoping to challenge Dayton next year, has led the charge on the issue, saying the move to transfer the intellectually disabled offenders to Cambridge would jeopardize the safety of Minnesotans. However, Dayton’s administration is not challenging the petition to release Thomas Duvall, a convicted rapist, whose conditional release from a secure facility is opposed by Attorney General Lori Swanson.

House Speaker Paul Thissen issued a supportive statement, and released a letter he penned in October calling upon Reps. Nick Zerwas (R-Elk River) and Tara Mack (R-Apple Valley) to take the initiative in crafting legislation to deal with the complex issue of the sex offender release process. Mack and Zerwas responded Wednesday afternoon, but chose to focus on Dayton’s apparent lack of disapproval toward Duvall’s conditional release. Said Mack: “Today’s announcement from Governor Dayton, saying he supports the release of violent sex offenders against the advice of the Minnesota Attorney General, is alarming to me as a legislator and a mom.”

2.) Momentum continues to build for a pair of potential Republican gubernatorial hopefuls — but in opposite directions. Former House minority leader Marty Seifert has scheduled a Capitol press conference for 1:30 p.m. on Nov. 21, which most everyone expects will serve as a debut event for his campaign. Seifert played coy in speaking to the Star Tribune yesterday, saying he “wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise.” Seifert finished third in the recent GOP State Central Committee straw poll, coming in behind winner Jeff Johnson and runner-up Sen. Dave Thompson, R-Lakeville, despite the fact that Seifert hadn’t even officially declared his run for office. Meanwhile, blogger Michael Brodkorb writes that people close to Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, have indicated that she will soon announce that she won’t seek the office. For a period of several months, Rosen, an independently wealthy GOP moderate, was known to be considering a bid to run against Gov. Mark Dayton. Asked directly by Brodkorb, Rosen demurred, saying she didn’t want to comment publicly.

3.) As it turns out, having the lowest average premium costs among all health insurance exchanges comes with a bit of a price. Minnesota Public Radio reports that a new study found plans on MNsure have the highest average annual deductibles out of 15 states under review. MNsure plans come in at an average of more than $4,000 for total deductibles, or twice as high as plans that will be offered in Maine and Massachusetts. Julie Sonier, a research fellow at the University of Minnesota, said the high deductible figures are typical for Minnesota, pointing to data from 2009 which indicated that more than half of private policy holders had annual deductibles in excess of $3,000.

  • Gov. Mark Dayton will hold a 1:30 p.m. press conference with Department of Transportation Commissioner Charlie Zelle in the governor’s reception room.
  • Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) announced on Wednesday that the economic forecast will be published on Nov. 5, though the exact time of Commissioner Jim Schowalter‘s press conference was not given.
  • At 12:30 p.m. the Senate Education Committee and the E-12 Finance Committees will hold a joint meeting to take testimony from recent Teacher of the Year award recipients on a variety of education-related topics.
  • The Minnesota State University Student Association is hiring a director of government and system relations. The advocacy position, which calls for lobbying work at the local, state and federal level, is full-time, and comes with “excellent salary and benefits.” The organization represents more than 75,000  students across seven public campuses in the state. More information and application details here.
  • The Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council will meet at 8:00 a.m. in the State Office Building today to discuss a number of topics and take public testimony.
  • There is an opening for a paid internship at Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB). The intern would work on the agency’s statewide results team, and would help in preparation efforts for press conferences, as well as work on a new statewide results online dashboard tool. The intern must be enrolled in a graduate level program for public policy, public administration or business administration. More information at the state jobs board.

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