1) Gov. Mark Dayton signed a more than $1 billion building package and $103 million in tax cuts into law on Tuesday, taking the opportunity to praise DFLers in control of state government for investing in education and infrastructure, raising the minimum wage and providing tax relief to Minnesotans.
During a press conference Tuesday, Dayton and DFL legislative leaders prefaced the looming 2014 mid-term campaigns with a checklist of their accomplishments at the helm of state government. Until pressed, gay marriage and the medical marijuana proposal the governor is expected to sign were two high profile pieces of legislation that went unmentioned or were only quietly heralded.
Instead, Dayton and others touted investments in rural broadband, early education initiatives, a tuition freeze at higher education institutions and the Women’s Economic Security Act as key accomplishments. House Speaker Paul Thissen spoke in support of the tax hikes DFLers passed last year as necessary to make the investments that Minnesotans want.
“If the Republicans would like to go out, complain about the taxes we raised, they also have to go out and say, ‘We don’t want to invest any more in education. We don’t want to invest any more in transportation. We don’t want to invest in jobs and economic development. We don’t want to invest in caregivers who provide help in nursing homes and in home care all across this state,'” Thissen said. “Because they can’t have it both ways.”
But House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, took a more dire view of the session. Republicans hope to oust Dayton and secure a majority in the House this fall.
“Democrats continued their old habits of taxing and spending as a solution to every problem,” Daudt said. “What we found out was they’ve driven us from a healthy, recovering economy back toward deficit spending and unhealthy taxing and spending, hurting Minnesota’s economy and hurting Minnesota families.”
2) Minnesota will host the 2018 Superbowl at the new $1 billion Vikings stadium NFL officials announced on Tuesday, passing over New Orleans and Indianapolis in favor of the Minneapolis site, the Star Tribune reports.
Key to the pitch was the new stadium, which state lawmakers funded in 2012. The last time Minnesota hosted a Superbowl was in 1992. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the new facility was the “distinguishing factor.”
“We’re going to make football fans everywhere proud,” Vikings owner and president Mark Wilf said.
3) Former GOP Rep. Jim Knoblach will have to cough up an $11 million surety bond if he wants to continue his attempts to block the $90 million Senate office complex, the Associated Press reports.
Knoblach said he plans to appeal the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruling up to the state Supreme Court. “I am not a member of the so-called 1 percent, and I don’t have $11 million to post as bond,” Knoblach said in a statement.
The state has argued that Knoblach’s lawsuit could delay the project — a lower court already shot his lawsuit down — which is why the appeals court authorized the bond. There’s a hearing scheduled June 10.
COMINGS & GOINGS
- Democrat Paul Alegi has signed-up to run in House District 33B, now represented by freshman Rep. Cindy Pugh, R-Chanhassen. Alegi is a founder and director of Contego Capital, and has held a number of positions in the investment industry. Pugh won election to that seat with about 54 percent of the vote in 2012.
- Former legislator Tom Rukavina has announced his intention to run for a seat on the St. Louis County Board of Commissioners, according to the Duluth News Tribune. Rukavina, a Democrat, served 13 terms in the state House of Representatives, representing the Virginia-area district now held by DFL Rep. Jason Metsa. Rukavina is seeking the county position held by Mike Forsman, who has said he is not running for re-election.
- The University of Minnesota College of Food Agriculture and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS) announced that interim dean Brian Buhr has been retained as that school’s new leader. Buhr, previously head of the University’s applied economics department, had served as interim dean since August 2013.
- Minnesota Public Interest Research Group (MPIRG) is seeking student interns to run its pledge drive and voter registration efforts this summer and fall. Applicants must be a student at either Concordia College or Moorhead State University; send resume and cover letter to [email protected]
- A libertarian-minded political action committee has registered with the state campaign finance board in the form of Liberty Minnesota PAC. The fund listed Mark Wegscheid as its chair; Wegscheid is owner of Broadband Corp., a Twin Cities-based internet service provider.