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Don Nichols, a plaintiffs' employment lawyer, was singled out.

The Capitol note: Minimum wage negotiations continue

Sen. Chris Eaton, DFL-Brooklyn Park, is the chief author of a Senate's minimum wage bill.  (Staff photo: Peter Bartz-Gallagher)

Sen. Chris Eaton, DFL-Brooklyn Park, is the chief author of a Senate’s minimum wage bill. (Staff photo: Peter Bartz-Gallagher)

1.) The House-Senate conference committee on Minnesota’s minimum wage has apparently reached agreement on the $9.50/hour level passed last year by the House, writes the Star Tribune, but that leaves a number of important disagreements unresolved. House negotiators rejected the Senate’s $9.50 offer last night, in part because its application would have been restricted to big businesses. Other differences also remain, the paper notes:   “whether the minimum wage should automatically go up with inflation, if employers should be allowed to pay young workers less than the minimum and over how many years the new wage should be phased in.” Senate conferee Chris Eaton, the author of that chamber’s minimum wage bill, said she was “shocked” at the House’s rejection of the Senate position.

2.) A new KSTP-TV/SurveyUSA poll has DFL U.S. Sen. Al Franken leading his main Republican rivals by 8 to 10 points. Franken holds a 49-41 edge versus state Sen. Julianne Ortman and St. Louis County Commissioner Chris Dahlberg, and a 50-40 advantage over financier Mike McFadden (who has made himself the frontrunner in most analysts’ eyes through his prodigious fundraising). Franken enjoys an even-larger cushion against lesser-known GOP candidates Harold Shudlick, Monti Moreno and state Rep. Jim Abeler. But Franken’s lead may be softer than the current margin suggests, writes KSTP’s Tom Hauser, because he actually trails the top three Republican contenders by an average 44-42 spread among self-identifying independents. The poll of 545 registered voters has a margin of error of +/- 4.3 percent.

3.) The push to legalize medical marijuana is set to begin in earnest today with a hearing in the House Health and Human Services Committee. The bill chief authored by Rep. Carly Melin, DFL-Hibbing, has garnered dozens of bipartisan coauthors in the lower chamber, and a strong group of supporters in the Senate. The largest obstacle to supporters of that idea has come from law enforcement groups, which have steadfastly opposed any step to legalize cannabis, even for medicinal uses. That position has proven effective at preventing the support of Gov. Mark Dayton, though both Dayton and law enforcement officials have hinted that they are open to a more nuanced stance in recent months. The hearing begins at 2:30 p.m., and will reconvene after 6:00 p.m. if necessary.


  • Members of Gov. Mark Dayton‘s cabinet will use an 11:00 a.m. press conference to reveal the administration’s official “unsession” agenda. Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB) Commissioner Tony Sertich and Revenue Commissioner Myron Frans are expected to be on hand, among others; the press conference will be held in the Governor’s Reception Room.
  • The Humphrey School of Public Affairs is hosting a discussion on the role class plays in the setting of economic policy. Panelists for the March 6 event include Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk and Sens. Charles Wiger (Maplewood) and Carla Nelson (Rochester). More information here.
  • The Department of Natural Resources announced the appointment of Erika Rivers as the new head of its Parks and Trails division. Rivers, who currently serves as an assistant commissioner in the DNR, will take over the new position upon the retirement of Courtland Nelson in April.
  • AXA, a retirement consulting and life insurance company, has hired Messerli & Kramer lobbyists Thomas Poul and James T. Clark to represent its interests at the Capitol. Poul and Clark are the firm’s first advocates on record with the state.
  • The Secretary of State’s Office announced an updated lists of openings on state boards and commissions. Among the boards in need are the Governor’s Workforce Development Council, which needs four representatives of business/industry, one from organized labor, one local elected official and a community organizing representative. See the full list of vacancies here.
  • Lobbyist and Minnesota Chamber of Commerce staffer Tony Kwilas signed-up to represent Lorillard Tobacco Co., a Greensville, N.C.-based company behind such cigarette brands as Kent, Newport and Old Gold. Kwilas is the company’s first lobbyist in this state.


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