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The sex offender task force's final recommendations emphasized the importance of separating the civil commitment process from the risk of political interference.

The Capitol Note: Sex offender recommendations met with tepid support

Rep. Tony Cornish warned of rushing into a policy change that could put the public at risk. (Staff photo: Peter Bartz-Gallagher.)

Rep. Tony Cornish warned of rushing into a policy change that could put the public at risk. (Staff photo: Peter Bartz-Gallagher.)

1.) The Sex Offender Civil Commitment Task Force published its final recommendations yesterday, charting its desired course for the state to overhaul a long-troubled program that has often proven toxic for elected officials. Those recommendations say the state should create a special commitment screening process run by trained medical professionals, who would recommend possible candidates for commitment to a court made up of retired judges. On these and other fronts, the task force document specified that the intent was to remove the process wholly from the risk of political interference. For their part, some major politicians seemed to welcome the idea of the recommendations, without alluding to any of the proposals specifically: Gov. Mark Dayton and House Speaker Paul Thissen both thanked the panel for its work, while saying they would review the recommendations and seek a bipartisan solution to the dilemma.

The state is thought to be running up against — if not past — its deadline to craft a legislative fix to the Minnesota Sex Offender Program (MSOP), which has granted only one provisional release in nearly 20 years. But that risk is an exaggeration, according to Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Vernon Center, the GOP lead on the House Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee. In an interview with the Mankato Free Press, Cornish said that those pushing for a quick answer are using scare tactics, and said rushing into a new program could threaten public safety.

2.) While the rollout of MNsure.org remains a gleaming technological achievement compared to Healthcare.gov, problems continue to trickle out regarding the state insurance exchange website. The latest on that front is news that the state is retroactively mailing 7,500 notices regarding federal tax credits to Minnesota consumers, according to the Pioneer Press. MNsure officials explained that “glitches” in their operation were the cause of the mailings, though they did not specify how many of the 7,500 consumers had received inaccurate information about their eligibility for federal tax breaks. MNsure spokeswoman Jenni Bowring-McDonough acknowledged that some customers might have been given a higher estimated subsidy than they will actually receive, while others might have been offered a private plan when they should have been directed to a public assistance plan; the agency is still analyzing the fallout from the technical problems.

3.) Republican Party of Minnesota deputy chair Kelly Fenton announced yesterday that she would resign from that post in order to focus on her legislative race in House District 53B, where she is looking to win the seat held by retiring GOP  Rep. Andrea Kieffer. Fenton’s last day on the job will be Jan. 1. Already yesterday, two names were floated as possible replacements for Fenton: GOP activist Erin Haust and Neil Lynch, director of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Minnesota.

COMINGS & GOINGS

  • At 10:00 a.m. this morning, a number of key figures — including Gov. Mark Dayton and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak — will attend the ceremonial groundbreaking for the new Minnesota Vikings stadium. The event at the Metrodome marks the official start of construction for the new Minnesota Vikings stadium, which is set to open for business in 2016.
  • House Republican leaders are holding their annual holiday dinner tomorrow evening at the Town & Country Club in St. Paul. Admittance is $300 per person, and sponsorship levels range from $1,500 to $5,000, with the larger amount earning four dinner tickets and four tickets to the main reception. RSVP to 651-225-8586.
  • Lobbyists Larry Redmond and Brian Halloran, both of Redmond Associates, have been retained by Conservation Minnesota. They became the group’s second and third registered lobbyists, joining Conservation Minnesota executive director Paul Austin.
  • At 4:00 p.m., Transportation Commissioner Charlie Zelle and Metropolitan Council chair Susan Haigh will convene an event at the Minneapolis Public Library to discuss regional transportation and transit projects. The meeting is the first of several public town halls that will be held this month.
  • Lobbyist Amber Backhaus of Leonard Street & Deinard has terminated all of her registrations with the state, bringing an end to her relationship with more than a dozen clients. Backhaus has not yet made a public announcement about her next position.

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