1.) Legislative leaders from both parties and both chambers gave some insight into their priorities and strategy heading into the 2014 session at the Politics in Minnesota/Capitol Report session preview panel discussion Thursday morning, an event co-sponsored by Fredrikson & Byron. The debate saw the various caucus leaders revisiting some of the same issues that dominated the 2013 session, but also teased out a few surprising moments. Among them: Senate Minority Leader David Hann said his caucus would be “open” to a discussion about raising new revenues to fund transportation needs. House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt said he was “not necessarily” interested in that notion, and predicted that House Democrats would avoid passing a gas tax increase during an election year.
On another topic certain to surface early in the session, House Speaker Paul Thissen said it has been “hard to find a solution” to medicinal marijuana that could be endorsed by law enforcement officials, and said the topic was not a top priority for his caucus this year. On the issue of minimum wage, Sen. Jeff Hayden, DFL-Minneapolis, predicted that the Senate would be able to pass a bill that is closer to the House’s $9.50 figure than to the $7.75 mark that passed in the upper chamber last year.
2.) Gov. Mark Dayton will push for new legislation meant to curb the safety risks involved in rail transport, the Star Tribune reports, outlining an administration platform that coincides with a union protest of the Canadian Pacific rail line over the same issue. Dayton spokesman Matt Swenson said the governor met with cabinet officials yesterday to discuss the topic, and plans to craft a legislative proposal that could be introduced for the 2014 session. Possible approaches to the issue include hiring additional rail safety inspectors to supplement the lone state employee who currently fulfills that job.
3.) Today, the Minnesota Vikings and the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA) are planning to roll out terms of the personal seat licenses (PSLs) that will provide for a portion of the team’s funding toward its new stadium, according to the Associated Press. Per the agreement those two sides came to in October, the Vikings will use the high-priced “builder’s licenses” to finance up to $100 million of its contribution toward the $975 million stadium. At the time of the agreement, the Vikings said the average license would run around $2,500, while declining to give away details on price or financing options. MSFA chair Michele Kelm-Helgen and Gov. Mark Dayton had both advocated against the use exorbitant fees on fans for the team’s contribution; Kelm-Helgen later said the sides had reached a “very Minnesota-focused” deal.
COMINGS & GOINGS