1.) House DFL caucus leaders announced a wide-ranging set of legislative proposals that they referred to under the blanket term “The Women’s Economic Security Act of 2014,” offering a preview of what could become the DFL’s flagship legislative issue during the coming session. The proposal seeks to deal with a variety of issues that disadvantage women in the workplace, including pay disparity, raising the minimum wage to $9.50 and making child care more available and affordable. In a statement accompanying the news, House Speaker Paul Thissen explained that “the people struggling to stay or step in to the middle class are disproportionately women.” Rep. Carly Melin, DFL-Hibbing, and Sen. Sandra Pappas, DFL-St. Paul, were announced as the bill’s chief authors in the House and Senate, respectively.
2.) Another Republican U.S. Senate candidate has pledged to abide by the party endorsement, with a Thursday statement from Sen. Julianne Ortman, R-Chanhassen, echoing fellow candidate Chris Dahlberg‘s recent announcement. Ortman went further than Dahlberg, calling on other candidates to make the same choice. Whichever candidate wins the party nomination will need to rely on the most committed activists for help in defeating DFL U.S. Sen. Al Franken, Ortman argued, and should therefore be willing to honor those delegates’ choice. “I challenge any serious candidate who would run with the Republican brand and banner to respect the work of these activists and abide by their endorsement,” she said. The call for fidelity to the endorsement system is almost certainly aimed at Mike McFadden, who has focused his campaign strategy on fundraising to prepare for a primary rather than networking with party delegates.
3.) Sen. Dave Thompson, R-Lakeville, introduced his choice for gubernatorial running mate on Thursday, welcoming Sen. Michelle Benson, R-Ham Lake, to his campaign ticket. In what seems a veiled reference to the dissension between Gov. Mark Dayton and outgoing Lt. Gov. Yvonne Prettner Solon, Thompson announced that he does not see that office as a mere figurehead position, and said he would expect Benson to take a more expansive role in his own administration. Specifically, Benson, who serves as GOP lead on the Senate Health, Human Services and Housing Committee, would head up state efforts to reform the current health care system. Thompson said Benson’s responsibilities there would include “ultimately replacing MNSure with a free-market approach.” Like Thompson, Benson, 45, joined the Senate in 2010, and is now in her second term.
COMINGS & GOINGS
- Department of Veterans Affairs assistant commissioner Michael Gallucci has made plans to resign, according to the Star Tribune, which reports the contents of an email sent to agency staffers on Thursday. Galluci, who had been criticized for his leadership style in managing the state’s five veterans homes, will step down from his post in March; he joins a growing list of agency officials who have left that department in recent months.
- Democrat Daniel Kimmel has launched a candidacy in House District 56A, where he will look to challenge incumbent Rep. Pam Myhra, R-Burnsville, the SunThisWeek news outlet reports. Kimmel, 63, is a software developer and an avid distance runner, with 62 completed marathons to his name; he is the lone DFL candidate running in that district. Myhra won re-election to her seat with about 54 percent of the vote in 2012.
- Gov. Mark Dayton and other high-ranking state officials will meet for an emergency session of the Executive Council at 3:00 p.m. today, where they are expected to pass an executive order meant to alleviate the shortage of propane gas.
- Second Harvest Heartland has registered two employees as lobbyists, giving that hunger relief advocacy group its first official representation in more than 18 months. Executive director Rob Zeaske will lobby for the organization, as will Greta Gauthier, who formerly worked as government relations director at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture; Gauthier was replaced in that role by former assistant Hennepin County Attorney Santo Cruz.
- A campaign fund has been established to support the re-election of the state’s newest Supreme Court judge. Citizens for David Lillehaug registered its presence with the state on Wednesday, with prominent lobbyist and DFL Party general counsel Charles Nauen listed as the campaign committee chair. Gov. Mark Dayton appointed Lillehaug to the bench last June.
- Four lobbyists from Fredrikson & Byron were retained by Parent Aware for School Readiness (PASR), an education advocacy nonprofit formed by business leaders in 2012. The lobbyist quarter join executive director Erica Maas, who was already on file with the state.