1.) The minimum wage conference committee saw minimal progress made during a Tuesday afternoon hearing, according to the Pioneer Press, which details an offer tendered by House Democrats that is hardly different from previous suggestions by those conferees. House members still want to see a $9.50 wage rate go into effect in 2016, with the minimum tied to inflation thereafter. The “implicit price deflator,” as the proposed mechanism is called, would be capped at a 3 percent annual increase. The House idea also exempts agricultural workers from a 40-hour work week, which became a major sticking point for rural Senate Democrats during the 2013 debate. Sen. Chris Eaton, DFL-Brooklyn Center, said the Senate Democratic caucus would meet Wednesday night to go over the House offer before returning with a counteroffer of their own.
2.) Gov. Mark Dayton effectively snuffed out his own proposal for a state-funded study of medicinal marijuana during a WCCO radio interview on Tuesday, saying crucial stakeholders on that issue don’t support the notion at this point. Dayton had wanted to see a $2 million grant dedicated to research into smokeless marijuana’s effectiveness as a treatment for seizure disorders, and had said the research should be conducted by the Mayo Clinic. The governor now says the odds of such a move being made this session are between “slim and none,” given that backers of medicinal marijuana are not interested in the study. Heather Azzi of Minnesotans for Compassionate Care, the chief lobbying group in favor of this year’s push, said her group would continue working toward an agreement.
3.) The House Education Finance Committee is set to take up, amend and vote on a supplemental funding package during a hearing that began at 8:15 a.m. this morning. Committee chair Rep. Paul Marquart, DFL-Dilworth, was given a $92 million target by House leadership in its budget planning earlier this month, with the majority of that funding to be split between money for teacher evaluations and new scholarships for early childhood education. The committee is scheduled to break for the House’s session, which begins at noon, and will reconvene at 7:45 p.m. to continue its agenda if necessary.
COMINGS & GOINGS
- Shakopee City Council member Jay Whiting has filed to run as a Democrat in House District 55A, which has become an open seat since last week’s announcement that Rep. Mike Beard, R-Shakopee, will not seek re-election. No other Republican has yet filed to run in the district, whose demographics tilt toward the GOP.
- Xavier Lopez-Ayala, formerly a staffer and lobbyist for Alliance for a Better Minnesota, has died, according to a blog post and numerous Twitter messages of condolences to his family and friends. Lopez-Ayala had relocated from Minnesota to Washington, D.C., where he worked for New Media Firm, a progressive outfit that specializes in online and social media strategies. No further details have been made available at this time.
- Minnesota Recovery Connection is hiring for a new executive director, as announced in an email sent yesterday. The addiction recovery organization’s top position entails working directly with its board of directors to assure grant compliance, and to interact with the Twin Cities recovery community. Qualified applicants should have working knowledge of addiction counseling and 3-5 years of experience with a leadership role within an organization; email cover letter, resume and three professional references to [email protected], attn: Mark Anderson.
- MNsure’s board of directors will meet at 1:00 p.m., in that body’s regular meeting place of 81 East 7th St. in St. Paul. The discussion is scheduled to go until 3:30 p.m.
- The Third Congressional District Republicans will hold their endorsing convention in Maple Grove over the weekend. The event will be at Maple Grove Senior High, and begins at 9:00 a.m. Pre-registration is due today, and costs $20; $25 at the door. More information here.
- The Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) is hiring for an administrator position in charge of its job creation fund, which will operate out of the office of business finance. The position calls for setting and overseeing a budget, including the award of grant funds; qualified applicants should have experience in financial, business or community development in either public service or a non-profit role. More information at the state jobs board website.