1) The law enforcement lobby has been a powerful force in blocking proposed medical marijuana legislation this session, highlighting the clout of police and prosecutors in shaping public policy, Minnesota Public Radio reports. Some lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have criticized that influence.
Rep. Carly Melin, DFL-Hibbing, authored the medical marijuana legislation, and has said that the Legislature is ceding too much authority to police, who are supposed to enforce laws, not write them.
“I’m starting to wonder who makes the laws around here,” Melin said. “It seems like we take their opinion into pretty heavy consideration whenever we’re passing legislation.”
Lawmakers have also been frustrated by police opposition to measures to curb electronic surveillance. One area that law enforcement groups haven’t been successful is in supporting stricter gun control laws.
2) Tina Smith, Gov. Mark Dayton’s running mate, has taken a much broader and more prominent role in his election campaign as Dayton has recovered from health problems, writes the Star Tribune. Smith, formerly Dayton’s chief of staff, is working to master a new set of political skills — retail politics — as she emerges from her usual role as a behind-the-scenes operative.
So far, Smith has focused less on the tax cuts DFLers passed this session and more on their victories on gay marriage, health care and raising the minimum wage.
“We fought hard for marriage equality, and we won,” Smith told a group of people. “We fought hard for a higher minimum wage, and we won. We fought hard to put more money in education, and we won.”
3) A federal judge struck down the portion of Minnesota’s renewable energy standard that bars utilities from importing coal-fed electricity into the state without offsetting the environmental impact. The case is on appeal, Minnesota Public Radio reports.
The 2007 legislation also sets renewable energy goals for the state, which would not be affected by the ruling. The main conflict has been between Minnesota and North Dakota, which has coal plants that it wants to use to provide electricity here. Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty signed the standards into law with bipartisan support.
“While the state of Minnesota’s goals in enacting [the law] may have been admirable, Minnesota has projected its legislation into other states and directly regulated commerce therein,” U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson wrote in an opinion agreeing with North Dakota.
COMINGS & GOINGS
- Andrew Livingston has registered to run as a Republican candidate in House District 67A, the strongly liberal district currently represented by Rep. Tim Mahoney, DFL-St. Paul. Mahoney won re-election with nearly 78 percent of the district vote in 2012.
- Lobbyist Lloyd Grooms has added a pair of new clients to his roster. Grooms will advocate for the Koch Pipeline Company, based out of Wichita, Kan., and the Dial Corporation, which is headquartered in Arizona; in the case of the latter, Grooms is the first lobbyist on record in this state.
- The Department of Natural Resources is hiring for a part-time office administrative position in its St. Paul office. Job duties include secretarial work, budgeting and record-keeping. More information available at the state jobs board website.
- The Citizens League has scheduled its next Policy and a Pint event on April 30 at the Varsity Theater in Minneapolis. The topic of the night’s discussion is agriculture and the adverse effect that pesticides can have on pollinators such as bees. The panelists are University of Minnesota professor Gary Reuter, food writer Dara Moskowitz-Grumdahl and Department of Agriculture official Joseph Zachmann. More information here.
- Politics in Minnesota/Capitol Report is accepting nominations for the Leaders in Public Policy recognition. Categories include lobbyist of the year, local government of the year and the Jim Ramstad Lifetime Achievement honor. Nominations are accepted through May 28, and the awards will be given out at a ceremony on July 28. More information here.