1.) Former House Minority Leader Marty Seifert is poised to jump into the gubernatorial race with a trio of events on Thursday. Seifert’s candidacy has been rumored in GOP circles for months, and the related chatter has only ramped up since his surprise third-place finish at the Republican State Central Committee straw poll last month. With his entry into the race, Seifert will become the first mainstream candidate who can claim to represent a rural area, a fact which he has chosen to highlight with the site of his debut campaign event. Seifert will kick off his Thursday swing with an announcement in Marshall, the community he represented during during his seven terms of services in the House.
Seifert will follow his 8:30 a.m. press conference at the Marshall City Hall with a 1:30 p.m. appearance in St. Paul at the State Office Building, and will later move on to Mankato for an event at the Happy Chef restaurant. Seifert joins an already crowded field consisting of five Republicans, including Sen. Dave Thompson, R-Lakeville, Rep. Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, and Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson. Seifert sought the GOP nomination in 2010, eventually losing an endorsement contest against Tom Emmer. In previous public utterances, Seifert has been somewhat pessimistic about his chances to secure the party endorsement during this election cycle, saying his political profile might be too moderate for some GOP activists.
2.) One week after saying President Barack Obama should honor his promise to let people keep their insurance plans, Gov. Mark Dayton changed course yesterday, announcing that the state insurance exchange would go forward without certain plans that had been excluded. Dayton apparently changed his mind after receiving a letter from Minnesota Council of Health Plans executive director Julie Brunner, who wrote that Obama’s decision had come too late to implement without leading to “major market disruptions” within the MNsure exchange marketplace. In a reply released Monday afternoon, Dayton wrote that he took Brunner’s message to mean reintroducing those plans is “unworkable,” and would result in higher costs to consumers. That explanation wasn’t enough for House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, who was quick to criticize Dayton’s announcement with one of his own. “I’m disappointed Governor Dayton isn’t willing to allow Minnesotans to keep the plan and doctor of their choosing,” Daudt said.
3.) On Monday the Senate Judiciary Committee renewed its discussion of a heated political issue that has recently come to a boil, thanks to back-and-forth exchanges between Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican gubernatorial hopefuls. The committee took testimony regarding the state’s problematic treatment of Minnesota Sex Offender Program (MSOP) detainees, who have increasingly been subject to indefinite civil commitment with limited chances for rehabilitation and release. Committee members heard testimony that the state’s population of civilly committed offenders had risen dramatically following the kidnapping and murder of Dru Sjodin in 2003, while the number of offenders deemed ready for release had dropped to virtually zero. The current method has been targeted by a class-action lawsuit brought on behalf of about 700 offenders currently in high-security facilities due to civil commitment, and former Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Eric Magnuson warned committee members that continued inaction by the state could leave reform in the hands of the judge in that case. For his part, Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove, called for a “political truce” around the difficult subject, saying he knows scoring partisan points is a tempting opportunity for politicians running for office in 2014.
- Gov. Mark Dayton will meet with commissioners and staff today, and also has private meetings scheduled with Minneapolis Mayor-elect Betsy Hodges, as well as a joint meeting with MnSCU chancellor Steven Rosenstone and Rep. Gene Pelowski.
- The Legislative Audit Commission will meet at 10:00 a.m. today to discuss an Office of the Legislative Auditor (OLA) report examining the state’s sustainable forest incentive program.
- Progressive political outfit Wellstone Action is holding a 10th anniversary party in Minneapolis on Wednesday. The group’s event will start at 5:30 p.m. at the Graves Hotel in Minneapolis. Expected guests include Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, Rep. Rena Moran and Minnesotans United for All Families executive director Richard Carlbom. Tickets are $50, or $25 for students; more information here.
- At 1:00 p.m. today, the joint House and Senate working group on expungements will take testimony from Legal Aid representatives, as well as from the general public.
COMINGS & GOINGS
- Yvonne Cournoyer has registered to lobby for the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault, and becomes that organization’s fourth current advocate on record.
- The Commerce Department is looking to hire a current student for part-time clerical work in its human resources department. The 10-hour per week position starts in December and runs through May 2014. Eligible applicants must currently be enrolled in a post-secondary or graduate school program. More information available at the state jobs board website.
- Kirsten Anderson terminated her registration to lobby for Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota. It was Anderson’s only lobbying role, and her termination drops the religious nonprofit’s presence to a single lobbyist on retainer.