1.) On Tuesday Gov. Mark Dayton blasted the DFL majority in the Minnesota Senate for holding up a tax relief bill that Dayton had asked to sign by now, the Star Tribune reports. Dayton, making his first public appearance since undergoing hip surgery early last month, said that a 30-minute meeting with Democratic legislative leaders earlier in the day – ostensibly to discuss the tax cuts bill already passed by the House – had revolved entirely around the Senate office building that still awaits final approval by the House Rules Committee.
The clear implication was that Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk is locked in a power struggle with DFL leaders in the House over the approval of the $63 million Senate office building, which Dayton termed “un-Minnesotan” and “overly lavish.” After Dayton’s remarks, Bakk denied that the Senate had deliberately delayed approval of over $500 million worth of tax cuts for businesses and households, adding that the Senate (Strib’s paraphrase) “would use a special procedure to pass the measure Thursday and send it back to the House for final consideration.” Whether the proposed building’s days as a major session bargaining chip are really over remains to be seen.
2.) A former top Republican Party of Minnesota official is launching an independent spending group that’s apparently aimed at safeguarding Republican legislators from reprisals based solely on single-issue social politics — such as the recent troubles of GOP Reps. David FitzSimmons (Albertville) and Jenifer Loon (Eden Prairie), both of whom were denied re-endorsement by local activists after casting votes in favor of legalizing gay marriage last year. Michael Brodkorb’s Politics.mn reports that former RPM Chairman Pat Shortridge is the driving force behind Minnesotans for Conservative Leadership, which registered with the state campaign finance board on Monday. “When good conservatives face the circular firing squad,” Shortridge told Brodkorb, “we’ll be there with the bullet proof vests.”
3.) The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce led all comers in lobbying spending during 2013, according to MPR, which reports on the latest release from the state campaign finance board. The business group spent $2.1 million last year, well ahead of second-place finisher the Minnesota Business Partnership. Those two conservative groups were followed by a pair of liberal powerhouses, both of which would consider the 2013 session a huge success: Education Minnesota spent $1.2 million lobbying state government, and pro-gay marriage outfit Minnesotans United for All Families spent $1.1 million. In total, interest groups spent upwards of $65 million on lobbying, a comparable figure to aggregate expenses in prior years.
COMINGS & GOINGS