Two political appointees of Gov. Mark Dayton on Tuesday survived confirmation votes in the Minnesota Senate, despite objections by Republican legislators.
The DFL-led Senate voted 35 to 22 to confirm Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman, first appointed to the post in 2011. State senators voted 38 to 22 to confirm Adam Duininck as chairman of the Metropolitan Council. Dayton appointed Duininck to the chairman post in January, and he has served on the 17-member Met Council since 2011.
Republican senators criticized Rothman in the run up to Tuesday's vote, singling him out for his agency's response to allegations of overspending by a Minneapolis nonprofit charged with helping low-income residents.
GOP senators have also blamed him for the exit of PreferredOne from MNsure, after the Star Tribune reported last fall that the Commerce Department in 2013 asked the Golden Valley insurer to consider lowering its initially proposed rates.
Duininck, meanwhile, chairs the 17-member Met Council, which is charged with overseeing the strategic growth of the seven-county metro area since 1967, including its parks, wastewater system, housing and public transportation network.
It has faced calls over the years to change how board members are selected. Members are the board are currently appointed by the governor, but at least four bills pending the the Legislature seek to change that.
Photo: Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman in 2013.(Glen Stubbe/Star Tribune)
House legislators on Monday voted 89 to 37 to allow farmers to cultivate industrial hemp in an amendment to the agriculture budget bill.
The measure, put forth by Rep. Mary Franson, R-Alexandria, and Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, was adopted despite objections that it could lead to the cultivation of marijuana.
Supporters of the measure sought to dispel such concerns, arguing that hemp fibers have many acceptable uses in paper, clothing and textiles, among other uses. Cultivation of marijuana would still be illegal.
The state Senate defeated a move Wednesday to repeal a Minnesota High School League policy that allows transgender students to use locker rooms and bathrooms that don't match their sex at birth.
The GOP-led House of Representatives passed an identical provision on Saturday, attaching it to an education policy bill on an unrecorded voice vote. But the DFL-controlled Senate voted it down 40-25 during debate on its own education policy measure.
Last December, the Minnesota High School League adopted a policy that opens up transgender student-athletes to participate in girls' sports. State law already lets female students participate in boys' sports. Since then, the Minnesota Family Council and other socially conservative groups have pushed for the locker and bathroom prohibitions.
"I believe, and believe parents believe, that biologically female students should not have to worry about a biological young man sharing their locker room or bathroom," said Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove. "Nor should our daughters be put in a position of sharing a locker room or bathroom with a bunch of adolescent young men."
But Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, said such a prohibition would increase the stigma facing transgender students, and expose them to greater discrimination and physical violence.
"Gender identity is not a matter of choice or amenable to change," Dibble said.
The vote on the amendment fell largely along party lines, but with several crossovers. Sen. Lyle Koenen, DFL-Clara City, joined most Republicans in backing it. Three GOP senators -- Julianne Ortman of Chanhassen, and Carla Nelson and Dave Senjem of Rochester -- voted against it.
"This amendment makes me incredibly sad because it targets so very few Minnesotans," Ortman said. "I encourage members to be brave and vote no."
Since the House backed the measure, it will be up for debate in final House-Senate negotiations over the education policy bill. Gov. Mark Dayton has spoken in favor of the High School League policy, and has been critical of what he has called attempts to demonize transgender students.
A bill to pay back budget shifts and give modest tax relief to property owners and businesses that hire veterans was released by the Senate DFL today.
The $460 million price tag is far apart from the Republican-controlled House, which has outlined a plan for $2 billion in tax cuts for business, Social Security recipients, military retirees, people with student loans a host of other interest groups.
The Senate plan would use $225 million to pay back accounting shifts that occured during tough budget years.
The plan would provide about $200 million in tax relief, much of it directed at property taxpayers, either through direct cuts or by increasing local government aid, which could give local governments the ability to hold down taxes.
The Senate plan would also spend $47 million during the next two years on a tax credit for businesses that hire veterans.
The Senate Taxes Committee will take up the bill Tuesday.
Good morning. Wild advance and three weeks until the 2015 legislative session ends, assuming the House and Senate can come to an agreement and Gov. Mark Dayton signs on.
Senate Taxes Chairman Rod Skoe introduces his omnibus tax bill today. It will contrast sharply with the House plan. Senate in session at noon. House at 3:30. Full schedule.
Dayton and Lt. Gov. Tina Smith meet with Canadian Governor General (?) David Johnston. Dayton has an emergency meeting of the Executive Council at 3:00 for bird flu that’s open press. Then he makes remarks at 6:30 for the opening of the Olympus Brooklyn Park (Olympus, 9600 Louisiana Ave North, Brooklyn Park.)
An oft-quoted statistic that by 2018 70 percent of Minnesota jobs will require post-secondary education is flat wrong, Adam Belz reports. It’s way too high. It’s a number that gets thrown around the Capitol a lot.
Schools scrambling to get ready for new mandatory ACT. On April 28, 64,000 juniors will sit for the exam, Erin Adler reports.
Former Minneapolis City Council policy aide recording the stories of the transgendered, Erin Golden reports.
House GOP passed their education budget Saturday, and Ricardo Lopez was there.
Over the weekend, Pat Condon looked at the much touted Republican rural agenda and finds gaps in the budget plan.
RSB and Montgomery mention the unmentionable: A possible shutdown.
Washington and beyond
AP: Clinton Foundation acknowledges missteps in donor disclosure.
Roll Call: Comcast failed acquisition a win for Franken.
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