Both chambers of Congress will host hearings this month to probe passenger and freight rail safety in response to a spate of derailments involving tanks cars carrying crude oil.
Members of Minnesota’s congressional delegation, including U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar and U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, called for the hearings to examine the derailments, which rocked communities from New Mexico to New York.
For Klobuchar and Walz, the one that hit closest to home happened in December, when a train carrying crude oil ran off the tracks in Casselton, N.D., sparking a massive explosion that led authorities to evacuate the town.
A Senate subcommittee will meet Thursday to review "recent high-profile rail accidents, positive train control implementation and other key safety challenges," according to a release from Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat.
“The recent derailments in North Dakota and Canada underscore the need to find commonsense ways to strengthen our rail infrastructure and protect communities near rail routes,” said Klobuchar, a member of the committee.
The House Transportation Committee will host a subcommittee hearing Feb. 26.
Walz, a member of the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials, called for a hearing on the potential pitfalls of hauling crude oil and hazardous materials. Concerns from residents in La Crescent, a town in his southern Minnesota district with a highly-trafficked freight rail route, sparked his push.
“We must do everything we can to protect the communities that these hazardous materials are shipped through,” Walz.
Witness lists for the hearings have not yet been released, but federal regulators are expected to attend both.
A bipartisan coalition in Congress – including four Minnesota Democrats – is pressing leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee to explore potential solutions to the propane shortage in the Upper Midwest.
“As members representing the Midwest, we respectfully write today to request a hearing into the current propane shortage, the long term outlook of Midwestern supply and potential solutions to the problems,” the members wrote.
“As you may know, households and businesses across the Midwest have seen significant spikes in the price of propane fuels during the severe winter cold. Any further reduction in supply threatens to leave our constituents without the fuel necessary to heat their homes and keep livestock and poultry barns warm.”
U.S. Reps. Tim Walz, Betty McCollum, Rick Nolan and Collin Peterson signed the letter along with lawmakers from Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin also signed the letter.
Last week, Gov. Mark Dayton’s executive council extended an emergency order to alleviate Minnesota’s propane shortage. Suppliers have been unable keep up with demand during the brutal cold that has battered businesses and homeowners.
Friday is Federal Election Commission deadline day when federal candidates and groups must file their fundraising figures for 2013.
Follow along as we update our chart below with the cash hauls reported the the campaign finance agency.
Note: You may need to scroll a bit to see all the numbers.
Seats at President Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night will be filled with the legislative priorities of the 113th Congress.
On a night when the president lays out his blueprint for the year, members of Congress often choose their guests to convey a message of their own: the person often symbolizes a policy or issue the lawmaker is promoting.
In Minnesota, those issues range from job training and fighting poverty to ending child sex trafficking and repealing President Obama’s health care law.
Here’s a member-by-member look at the guests of the state’s congressional delegation:
U.S. Sen. Al Franken will host Erick Ajax, vice president and co-owner of E.J. Ajax and Sons, a Minneapolis-based metal-stamping company. Franken has introduced legislation that would create a multi-billion dollar grant program to fund partnerships between businesses and two-year colleges to fill job openings in high-demand fields.
Mayo Clinic CEO Dr. John Noseworthy will be U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s guest. A supporter of Mayo's partnerships to help match students' skills with jobs, Klobuchar has introduced legislation that would fund 100 new science, technology, engineering and math-themed high schools and support scientific research.
Owatonna Mayor Tom Kuntz will be U.S. Rep. Tim Walz's guest. Walz and Kuntz released a joint statement this month calling for passage of transportation funding bills in both houses of Congress in 2014.
U.S. Rep. John Kline will host Keith Anderson, vice chairman of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. The tribe is the largest employer in Scott County, which is part of Kline's district in the southern suburbs and exurbs of the Twin Cities.
U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen’s guest for President Obama’s State of the Union speech Tuesday will be Vednita Carter, founder and executive director of Breaking Free, a St. Paul-based organization that helps women escape prostitution. Paulsen, the author of two bills designed to combat child sex trafficking, wrote a letter to Obama this month, requesting that he address the issue during the speech.
U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum’s guest will be Clarence Hightower, executive director of the Community Action Partnership of Ramsey and Washington Counties, an anti-poverty agency. This year, McCollum plans to push for more federal grant money to be distributed to not-for-profit agencies, such as the Community Action Partnership, to tackle poverty.
Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges will attend President Obama’s State of the Union speech as the guest of U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison. The two are working on plans to close the achievement gap in the city’s schools and radically reduce the amount of garbage the city sends to landfills, with the eventual goal of reaching "zero waste."
Dr. Julie Anderson, a family physician from St. Cloud, will be U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann’s guest. A University of Minnesota Medical School graduate, Anderson has concerns about how the Affordable Care Act will affect her practice. Bachmann has been one of Congress’ most vocal critics of the health care reform law.
U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, who will not bring a guest, gave his pass to U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, according to staff.
As a result, Nolan will have two guests – Carri Jones, chairwoman of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, and Melanie Benjamin, executive director of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. Nolan's northeastern Minnesota districts includes five of the six Minnesota Chippewa Tribe bands.
The Minnesota Republican Party and U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann favored Domino's. Ron Paul's presidential campaign preferred American Pie.
And last year, U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison and northern Minnesota Democratic congressional hopeful Jeff Anderson went for Pizza Luce while U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, who bested Anderson in a primary, bestowed Sammy's Pizza in both Hibbing and Duluth with his business.
Since Minnesotans can get as passionate about pizza choices as they are about politics, Hot Dish asked the Center for Responsive Politics to generate a list of all the pizza purchases from Minnesota's federal campaigns of late.
Check out the map of pizza payments below and perform your own pizza partisanship on the data here.
|Vikings (7)||Health care (1)|
|1st District (127)||2nd District (122)|
|3rd District (98)||4th District (72)|
|5th District (144)||6th District (515)|
|Funding (650)||Health care (208)|
|Minnesota U.S. senators (495)||Minnesota campaigns (1333)|
|Minnesota congressional (718)||Minnesota governor (1602)|
|Minnesota legislature (1825)||Minnesota state senators (771)|
|National campaigns (452)||President Obama (356)|
|State budgets (780)||Celebrities (1)|
|Anoka (1)||Fridley (1)|
|2012 Presidential election (320)||7th District (77)|
|8th District (185)||NHL news (1)|
|Gov. Tim Pawlenty (450)||Political ads (82)|
|Recount (95)||Gov. Mark Dayton (1115)|
|Democrats (912)||Republicans (1069)|
|Morning Hot Dish newsletter (49)||Sept11 (1)|
|Public safety (2)||Marriage Amendment News (1)|
|Voter ID News (2)||Budget news (4)|