1) Lawmakers returning to the Capitol this week have to finish negotiating over supplemental budget bills and additional tax cuts made possible by Minnesota’s projected budget surplus, Minnesota Public Radio reports.
Though legislators have already passed $443 million in tax cuts, they’re still wrangling over the differences between two bills that would provide roughly $100 million in additional tax relief. The House has passed $323 in new spending, which must be meshed with a $210 million bill from the Senate.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk said he still thinks this years’s legislative session can end early, but that will depend on Republican willingness to provide the votes necessary to pass a bonding bill.
“If we could come back and have a couple weeks, that would be a pretty short session,” Bakk said. “I mean anything under 10 weeks would be pretty short. I don’t know if that can be done. That’s totally in the hands of the Republicans, because the bonding bill is the bill that’s going to be the hardest to close up because it has to have bipartisan support.”
2) Medical marijuana advocates will host a press conference Tuesday morning at the Capitol in a blowout blitz to push the struggling legislation past the finish line, according to a media release.
The event will highlight doctors and clergy who support access to medical marijuana, which the legislation would provide in a limited way for patients with certain conditions who get doctor approval. So far, Gov. Mark Dayton has opposed any medical marijuana bill that doesn’t have the backing of law enforcement.
Some lawmakers from both parties have criticized law enforcement’s lobbying power at the Capitol.
“Doctors and clergy throughout the state and around the country support legal access to medical marijuana,” Heather Azzi, political director for Minnesotans for Compassionate Care, said in a statement. “Legislators need to adopt comprehensive medical marijuana legislation this year. Seriously ill Minnesotans should not have to wait any longer.”
The Minnesota chapter of NORML will hold a rally on Wednesday at the Capitol to push for full legalization of marijuana, according to a flier that reads: “Yes we Cannabis!”
3) U.S. Sen. Al Franken has continued his criticisms of a $45 billion merger between cable and Internet giant Comcast and its rival, Time Warner Cable.
Comcast, which has typically supported Democratic candidates in the past and has ties to the Obama administration, has faced Franken’s ire from a consumer standpoint. Some observers also say the move could have significant repercussions for political advertising. Though Comcast has also backed GOP candidates, some worry that a preference for Democrats could force out certain political activity.
“The first thing I would do is not let the largest cable TV company buy the second-largest cable TV company,” Franken said.
COMINGS & GOINGS