With an insider’s eye, Hot Dish tracks the tastiest bits of Minnesota’s political scene and keep you up-to-date on those elected to serve you.

Contributors in Minnesota: Patrick Condon, J. Patrick Coolican, Patricia Lopez, Ricardo Lopez, Abby Simons, and Glen Stubbe. Contributors in D.C.: Allison Sherry, Jim Spencer and intern Beena Raghavendran.

Posts about Minnesota legislature

Gov. Mark Dayton threatens veto of any gun silencer bill

Posted by: J. Patrick Coolican Updated: April 23, 2015 - 3:31 PM

Gov. Mark Dayton today threatened to veto any bill that legalizes firearm suppression devices, commonly known as silencers. 

The Republican-controlled House overwhelmingly passed a bill last week that would legalize the devices, which are said to reduce gun noise by about 30 decibels; even the smallest firearms create noise of at least 140 decibels, according the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. 

In a statement released by his office, Dayton said: "Nowhere in the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution does it refer to a right to bear a silencer. To allow gunshots to be silenced increases the danger to law enforcement officers, and to innocent bystanders."

Gov. Mark Dayton declares state of emergency on bird flu epidemic

Posted by: J. Patrick Coolican Updated: April 23, 2015 - 3:16 PM

Gov. Mark Dayton declared a peacetime state of emergency in response to the avian influenza epidemic afflicting Minnesota turkey farms and poultry farms across the nation. 

Dayton said the order will tighten lines of authority in state and local government and allow his office to properly coordinate planning between the Board of Animal Health, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. 

The National Guard is not being called up, but the Guard is participating in collaborative planning. 

Roughly 2.5 million birds have been destroyed in Minnesota so far; the state processed 43 million turkeys last year. Chickens, which don't spread the disease as efficiently, are also affected. 

Dave Frederickson, commissioner of the Department of Agriculture, said there is no threat to human health: "The poultry on grocery store shelves is safe and will continue to be safe." He acknowledged, however, he is worried about the industry. He urged farmers to contact the department if they need help and to practice strict bio-security on their farms.    

The United States Department of Agriculture currently has 134 workers on the ground in Minnesota, while the state has 86. The USDA will pay for flock indemnification, depopulation, carcass disposal and testing. 

A public health official said they are monitoring 140 Minnesotans who work closely with the birds for potential exposure. They have advised 87 to take a preventive medication; 70 have complied. None have tested positive for the H5N2, the scientific name of the bird flu. 

Dayton said he has apprised legislative leaders, and that they have pledged support: "Right now everybody is pulling together, and that's how it should be." 

Dayton: House leaders should admonish Newberger's 'horrible' north Minneapolis comment

Posted by: Abby Simons Updated: April 22, 2015 - 2:20 PM

Updated

Gov. Mark Dayton said House leadership should publicly admonish Republican Rep. Jim Newberger for his remarks that a rail line connecting north Minneapolis to the state prison in St. Cloud would be "convenient."

“I think it’s horrible, I think he should be reprimanded, if not censured, by his leadership. The fact that nobody has made comment on that in House leadership, I think is appalling,” Dayton told reporters Wednesday.

Newberger, a paramedic from Becker, drew boos on the House floor during Tuesday night’s debate on the GOP transportation budget. The second-term lawmaker noted that the proposed route would take Northstar right past the Minnesota Correctional Facility in St. Cloud.

"Boy, wouldn't that be convenient to have that rail line going from the prison to north Minneapolis?" Newberger said. Scattered boos could be heard in the chamber. Video here via The Uptake.

Newberger quickly backtracked. "I'm not casting any aspersions on north Minneapolis," he said. "I know some folks got their ire up, and rightfully so. Sometimes as we're speaking - that's what came into my mind.”

Newberger issued a apology Wednesday afternoon.

"I sincerely apologize," he said in a statement. "I recognize my comments last night offended some people. I will work in the future to not repeat this mistake."

House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, has not yet publicly responded to Newberger’s statements. A spokeswoman said Wednesday that Daudt spoke with Newberger immediately after Tuesday night's floor session to share his concerns and believes his apologies are appropriate.

 Dayton said leadership should make a public statement, regardless of whether Newberger backtracked.

“I think leadership in the House should make a strong statement that it’s totally unacceptable. It’s disgraceful.” Dayton said. “I don’t know the technical terms of sanctions in the House but somebody in House leadership ought to stand up and say publicly that is absolutely out of line and unacceptable and has no place in the Minnesota House or anywhere else.”

State Senate backs $893K for avian flu response, but dispute emerges

Posted by: Patrick Condon Updated: April 21, 2015 - 2:58 PM

The Minnesota Senate on Tuesday unanimously approved $893,000 in emergency state funds to respond to the avian flu outbreak, although a political squabble over a non-related provision attached to the legislation by the DFL's Senate majority may slow down distribution of the money. 

The House passed the avian flu money on Thursday. It's divided into two pots: $514,000 for the state Department of Agriculture, and $379,000 for the state Board of Animal Health. 

"There is some urgency," Sen. Kevin Dahle, DFL-Northfield, said Tuesday during Senate debate.

Dahle noted that the number of Minnesota turkey farms affected by the outbreak has been rising; it most recently was tallied at 28 farms in 14 counties. Minnesota is the nation's largest turkey producer. 

However, a day earlier in Senate Finance Committee, DFL senators attached a provision that would move up a yearly date on which the Minnesota Management and Budget office reports the size of the state's budget reserve to legislators. Backers said it's meant to give lawmakers more time to prepare for the legislative session and the scope of  resources available. 

On Monday, House Speaker Kurt Daudt released a statement saying he did not want unrelated measures attached to the avian flu money. "The legislature has a tradition of not adding unrelated provisions to disaster relief and emergency response bills," Daudt said. 

That makes a House-Senate conference committee on the bill likely, meaning a likely delay of several days in getting the bill to the desk of Gov. Mark Dayton for his signature. At a news conference Tuesday just ahead of the Senate action, Dayton praised lawmakers for acting quickly on the measure. 

GOP senators warned in Tuesday's floor debate that the provision added by Sen. Dick Cohen, DFL-St. Paul, would slow down the progress of the avian flu money. DFL senators united to defeat a GOP amendment to remove the unrelated measure. 

"This provision you're talking about has nothing to do with avian flu," said Senate Minority Leader David Hann, R-Eden Prairie. Neglecting to strip it out "will delay disaster relief to the farmers of this state." 

After indictments, House committee adds $250,000 to combat Somali terror recruitment

Posted by: Abby Simons Updated: April 21, 2015 - 2:10 PM

Hours after authorities announced charges against six men for allegedly attempting to leave the country to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a Minnesota House panel voted to boost state funding tenfold to combat Somali terrorist recruitment in Minnesota.

During a Monday evening House Ways and Means Committee hearing, Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis,  proposed a $250,000 increase to the Department of Public Safety  as part of the Omnibus Public Safety Policy and Finance bill. The money will be used to combat the recruitment of Minnesotans to join ISIL and al-Shabaab.

“In light of the recent news that six young men were arrested for planning to join ISIS, this investment couldn’t be timelier,” Kahn said in a statement. “This funding will go a long way in bolstering the collaboration between community groups and government agencies in developing strategies to combat terrorism.  Under this bill we’ll be able to better understanding the appeal and recruitment tools used to lure young men into terrorism and develop an effective response so more misguided youth aren’t tricked into becoming terrorists.”

The charges are the latest since ISIL and other terrorism groups have made clear their intent to lure young men from Minnesota—home of the largest Somali population in the country—to fight for their cause.

The issue has caught the attention of federal authorities, who have convened grand juries to investigate. While many have disappeared, others have been sentenced to prison for aiding recruitment efforts.

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