1) Lawmakers are expected to announce a deal on Monday raising Minnesota’s minimum wage to $9.50 an hour with inflationary increases thereafter, the Star Tribune reports. Negotiations between the Senate — which has been dragging its feet on the issue — and the House, have been a major political division this session between the Democrats who control the Legislature.
The move comes shortly after a key House committee approved a version of the contentious Senate office building on Friday, according to Minnesota Public Radio. Last month, Gov. Mark Dayton called out Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk for holding out on issues important to the House and the governor — both up for re-election this fall — in order to secure the office building, which House leaders had been slow to approve. Bakk denied that charge.
House Majority Leader Erin Murphy, who had been overseeing the process in the lower chamber, asked the Dayton administration to examine some options to reduce the cost of the building. The House Rules Committee on Friday approved a $76.8 version of the project, which was originally set at $93.5 million.
Republicans have been having a field day with the office building and will use it as a campaign attack heading into the 2014 mid-term elections. But Democrats will be able to use the minimum wage increase to their advantage, as well. The wage hike could affect more than 350,000 low-paid workers across the state, according to the Department of Employment and Economic Development.
“I feel really good,” Deputy Senate Majority Leader Jeff Hayden, DFL-Minneapolis, said of the minimum wage deal. “I think there are going to be a tremendous amount of smiles [on Monday].”
2) The House passed an additional $103 million in tax relief — mostly focused on property taxes for renters, farmers and homeowners — on Friday within weeks of passing $443 million of other tax relief provisions, the Pioneer Press reports. The Senate is expected to unveil its second-round tax bill on Monday.
The measure, which passed with no dissent, includes:
- A 3 percent increase in state Homestead Tax Credit refunds for roughly 500,000 homeowners.
- A 6 percent increase in renters’ credit refunds for roughly 350,000 Minnesotans who qualify.
- An average of $460 in property tax relief for 90,000 homestead farms.
“This second tax bill focuses on ways to make further reductions in property taxes for homeowners, renters and farmers,” Rep. Ann Lenczewski, DFL-Bloomington, said in a statement. “We believe this is a responsible way to continue expanding our economy from the middle-out while maintaining our stable budget into the future.”
3) Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, a 42-year incumbent, walked out of her endorsing convention on Saturday empty handed. Somali activist Mohamud Noor held Kahn off from getting the DFL party’s endorsement in the competitive House District 60B race, which has caused a schism between some establishment Democrats and party activists and the increasingly powerful Somali community.
Kahn and Noor must now campaign into the August primary — both said during Saturday’s convention they would abide by the decision delegates reached — which concerns state party officials. DFLers had hoped to have a unified district to focus on revving the Minneapolis vote engine for statewide Democrats up for re-election, including Gov. Mark Dayton and U.S. Sen. Al Franken.
Noor celebrated blocking Kahn’s endorsement as a win. On the fifth and final ballot, Kahn had the support of 56.3 percent of delegates while Noor had the backing of 43.3 percent. Kahn hovered just short of the 60 percent threshold required to win endorsement for much of the day, before delegates voted to adjourn the convention. Somali voters in past elections have turned out in droves, which could point to an advantage for Noor in August. But Kahn’s organizing skills haven’t failed her over the course of roughly 20 elections.
COMINGS & GOINGS
- Aaron Miller won the GOP endorsement in the 1st Congressional District over the weekend, defeating Rep. Mike Benson, R-Rochester, and Jim Hagedorn, the Rochester Post-Bulletin reports. Miller, a U.S. Army veteran and pharmaceutical sales representative, needed three ballots to cinch the party endorsement. His win sets up a campaign against incumbent DFL U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, and brings a temporary end to the political career of Benson, who has opted not to run for re-election to his legislative seat.
- Republican Justin Eichorn has registered to run in House District 5B, where fourth-term Rep. Tom Anzelc, New Balsam Township, is the current incumbent. Eichorn, a Grand Rapids businessman, ran unsuccessfully for the GOP nomination in the 8th Congressional District in 2010.
- The Department of Revenue announced the hiring of Cynthia Bauerly as new deputy commissioner, where she replaces Matt Massman, now a deputy chief of staff to Gov. Mark Dayton. Bauerly, who takes over the new position on April 28, now works at deputy commissioner for workforce development at the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), and formerly served as chair of the Federal Elections Commission.
- The Minnesota College Republicans selected a new leadership board at the political group’s convention over the weekend. University of St. Thomas student Angie Hasek was chosen as incoming chair of the organization; she will succeed her brother Andrew Hasek, who now works as a field director for Republican U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen‘s re-election campaign.
- The Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB) is hiring for a economic and community development representative. The employee would be charged with evaluating and administering state development grants through the agency. Qualified applicants should have a degree in business, public administration or a related field, and two-plus years of experience with economic development or public policy. More information at the state jobs board website.