1.) Public opinion on legalizing marijuana for medicinal use is sharply divided, according to new findings from the Star Tribune‘s Minnesota Poll. Support for that idea, which is set to receive a big push from legislators and organizers this year, stands at 51 percent — leaving its majority approval status within the poll’s 3.5 percent margin of error. The idea is significantly more popular with the young and less affluent, and polls much better with Democrats (77 percent support, 17 percent opposition) than Republicans (23 percent support, 69 percent opposed); Independents and unaffiliated voters are more evenly split. Less popular was the idea of the state’s legalizing the recreation drug outright, as has been done in Colorado and Washington. Only 30 percent of those surveyed like that idea, compared to 63 percent who said the state should not legalize marijuana. Rep. Carly Melin, DFL-Hibbing, will carry the medicinal marijuana bill in the House, and Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, is lead author in the Senate.
2.) The latest public leaning from DFL U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson find the longtime incumbent telling the Star Tribune that he’s planning another run for Congress, where most observers would favor his chances against Sen. Torrey Westrom, R-Elbow Lake. But the DFL Party is also arranging contingency plans in case Peterson comes to change his mind in the coming weeks or months. Party chair Ken Martin said possible replacements on the 2014 ticket include Sen. Kent Eken, DFL-Twin Valley, Rep. Paul Marquart, DFL-Dilworth, and former legislator Al Juhnke. Martin said he had not spoken with any of those three about running for the seat in Peterson’s absence, and added that Peterson’s decision would not come “because he’s worried about losing a race.”
3.) Rochester should be happy with what it got during the 2013 session, and expect little else to come its way this year. So goes the thinking some have direct at Rep. Kim Norton, DFL-Rochester, who told the Rochester Post-Bulletin that she is told “almost daily” that the city should take a backseat role after coming out the big winner last session. The city is seeking $37 million in capital investment funding toward an upgrade of its central business district, but Norton thinks some are reluctant to hand over more money after the state approved up to $585 million in public funds for the Destination Medical Center (DMC). In a recent Senate Capital Investment Committee hearing, Sen. David Tomassoni, DFL-Chisholm, suggested the city could tap those funds for its downtown project, but Norton argues those funds are already tied-in with private investment from the Mayo Clinic. “As I try to remind people here, we got the promise of support should we grow, should Mayo grow,” Norton said.
COMINGS & GOINGS
- Gov. Mark Dayton will push back the date of this year’s State of the State speech while he recovers from hip surgery, Minnesota Public Radio reports. Spokesman Linden Zakula said the final date would be determined by Dayton’s progress, but suggested the speech could come in March.
- As noted by Associated Press reporter Brian Bakst, the Minnesota Action Network registered an independent expenditure committee with the I.R.S. last week, listing Gina Countryman as its treasurer and former former senator Norm Coleman as chairman.
- The Minnesota Department of Health is hiring for a graphic design artist to work on that agency’s communications and outreach team. Qualified applicants should have three-plus years in communications work, or a combined equivalent of educational and professional expertise. The position pays between $42,000 and $67,000 in annual salary; more information at the state jobs board website.
- The Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association has retained the services of lobbyist Thomas Freeman of Faegre Baker Daniels. Freeman is the second advocate currently on record for that organization, which represents over 900 law enforcement officers from across the state.
- Beginning at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow, legislators, officials and experts will discuss the state of campaign finance regulation in Minnesota at a Humphrey School of Public Affairs event. House Speaker Paul Thissen, House Majority Leader Erin Murphy and prominent campaign finance attorney Trevor Potter are all scheduled to be on hand for the event, among others. More details here.
- Lobbyist Sarah Walker terminated her registration to advocate for the Corrections Corp. of America, leaving the Nashville, Tenn.-based organization with just two lobbyists on record.