1.) Rep. Michael Paymar, DFL-St. Paul, is leaving the Legislature after this, his ninth term in office. Paymar announced on Wednesday that he would not seek reelection in 2014, saying that he wants to dedicate more of his time to working with his nonprofit think tank, Education for Critical Thinking, which focuses on reducing gender-based violence. Paymar was front-and-center for much of the 2013 session as the leader of an unsuccessful effort to pass enhanced gun control measures as chair of the House Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee. His doggedness on that and other issues was recognized in a statement from House Speaker Paul Thissen: “Michael is known for his strong principles and for standing up for those principles even when many others around him disagreed.” Paymar’s announcement set off waves of speculation over who would look to run in one of the most safely liberal districts in the state. First out of the gate was Melissa McMahon, a lawyer and former House committee administrator who worked with Paymar, and had served as his campaign manager. By day’s end several other names had emerged, with Minnesota Public Radio’s Tim Nelson reporting that Matt Freeman, son of Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, was interested in the seat, as is former St. Paul Chamber of Commerce director Ted Davis.
2.) Prepare to hear the phrase “reflecting pool” many dozens of times during the coming months, and well into the next year. That’s one of the more eye-grabbing features on a proposed design of the new Senate office building, according to the Star Tribune, which reported on a draft-stage plan for the new structure. The design also includes a fitness center and a glass-enclosed walkway along University Avenue. The $63 million building was paired with $27 million for the construction of adjacent parking lots, and both were tucked in to the omnibus tax bill late in the 2013 session. The building is already the subject of a lawsuit from former GOP legislator Jim Knoblach, who has challenged the constitutionality of funding the construction as part of the tax bill. Meanwhile, Rep. Alice Hausman, DFL-St. Paul, said she feared the state might be “overbuilding,” pointing out that the Senate would be moving from two floors currently in use to the new five-story building.
3.) Rep. Tom Anzelc, DFL-Balsam Township, wants to take the issue of raising the minimum wage directly to the people of Minnesota. Anzelc announced on Wednesday that he plans to introduce a constitutional amendment that would increase the lowest legal wage from $6.15 to $10.00 an hour; in most cases, the federal minimum wage of $7.25 takes precedence over the state’s lower figure. Anzelc and his fellow House Democrats managed to pass a bill that would eventually have lifted the state level to $9.50 earlier this year, while the Senate passed a less dramatic increase of $7.75. The two sides, however, reached no deal in conference committee. In a statement, Anzelc blamed “political gamesmanship” for the Legislature’s inability to tackle basic economic issues like changing the wage rate. “My amendment is an effective way to cut through the bickering and give hard-working Minnesotans more security so they can provide for themselves and their families,” he said. Anzelc’s move follows a similar campaign that took place in New Jersey where voters passed a $1.00 minimum wage hike to $8.25.
COMINGS & GOINGS