Although the issue of medical marijuana seems dead for the duration of Session 2011, one related issue is making its way through the legislative machinery. Industrial hemp is gaining momentum at the Capitol, even though a proposal on the subject appears destined for trouble in public safety committees.
Rep. Bob Gunther doesn't want the Republican rural caucus he helped form this session to be seen as adversarial to suburban and metro legislators. In his view, the bicameral caucus' main purpose is to educate the large number of rural GOP members of the House and Senate, many of them freshmen, on issues of special concern to outstate members.
As expected, rural legislators joined hands this week to form separate caucus to meet throughout the session. Former GOP Minority Leader, Sen. Dave Senjem, announced his intentions to form the caucus with Rep. Bob Gunther last fall.
On the first day of the legislative session on Tuesday, many of the Senate's new Republican committee administrators were still receiving the keys to their offices and waiting for their phones to be set up. But for the most part, the top committee staffers who will help Senate Republicans govern in the majority for the first time since 1972 are hardly strangers to the Capitol.
The House Republican Caucus has hired a raft of new committee administrators who will try to bring order to the chaos of the legislative process as the new majority takes office. Their ranks include veteran caucus staffers as well as political refugees from the administration of outgoing GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty.
There were few surprises when the Minnesota House GOP released committee rosters last week. Legislators, Republican and Democrat alike, landed in spots where they've sat before, or - in the case of new lawmakers - where they have accrued relevant experience in their professional and personal lives.
With his inauguration less than two weeks away, Gov.-elect Mark Dayton has announced two more state agency commissioners, and they are both familiar figures at the Capitol. Dave Frederickson will head the Department of Agriculture, and Ken Peterson has gotten the nod to lead the Department of Labor and Industry.
The House GOP has filled out its leadership ranks by naming a majority whip and four assistant majority leaders.
Making good on what they called part of their core campaign message, Republican leadership at the Legislature on Tuesday rolled out a drastically scaled back committee roster for the upcoming legislative session. The committee reconfiguration reduced the total number of legislative panels from 61 to 40, and GOP leaders predicted the move could save as much as $800,000. And they followed it up just[...]
Business-backed MN Forward raised eyebrows last week when it announced support for three DFL legislators. But the reliably Republican PAC isn't the only big cash player at the Capitol that is backing candidates on the other side of the aisle. The Education Minnesota teachers union's PAC, which most frequently endorses DFLers, has endorsed a handful of Republican incumbents who are facing DFL chall[...]
On Thursday morning, PIM spoke with House Minority Leader Kurt Zellers (R-Maple Grove) about his agenda for the upcoming 2010 legislative session. His central concern is the same as every other politico out there this season: "It’s about jobs and economic opportunity."
A new leader for the state House GOP caucus is expected to emerge from a closed-door meeting in the State Office Building at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.
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