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, Baird Helgeson, Patricia Lopez, Jim Ragsdale, Abby Simons, Rachel E. Stassen-Berger and Glen Stubbe. Contributors in D.C.: Allison Sherry, Corey Mitchell and Jim Spencer.

Posts about Minnesota legislature

Dayton appoints members to medical marijuana task force

Posted by: Abby Simons Updated: July 10, 2014 - 3:45 PM

Gov. Mark Dayton on Thursday named the 16 members appointed to a Task Force  that will oversee and evaluate the impact of medical marijuana in Minnesota.
The Task Force on Medical Cannabis Therapeutic Research was created when the Minnesota Legislature last May passed a bill legalizing the use of medical marijuana for a limited number of maladies. It is among the most restrictive medical marijuana laws in the nation.

The task force of health care providers, law enforcement, consumers and their parents from throughout the state make up the committee. Their terms are effective July 15 through Jan. 5, 2015.

Here are the members:

James Backstrom – Hastings, MN
Minnesota County Attorneys Association Representative

Duane Bandel – Minneapolis, MN
Consumer Member

Maria Botker – Clinton, MN
Parent Member

Dennis Flaherty – St. Paul, MN
Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association Representative

Karina Forrest – White Bear Township, MN
Substance Use Treatment Provider

James Franklin – St. Paul, MN
Minnesota Sheriff’s Association Representative

Dr. Pamela Gonzalez – Minneapolis, MN
Substance Use Treatment Provider

David Hartford – St. Cloud, MN
Substance Use Treatment Provider

Dr. Vincent Hayden – Minneapolis, MN
Substance Use Treatment Provider

Chief David Kolb – Champlin, MN
Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association Representative

Doreen McIntyre – Champlin, MN
Health Care Provider

Jeremy Pauling – Montevideo, MN
Parent Member

Dr. Charles Reznikoff – Minneapolis, MN
Health Care Provider

Laura Schwartzwald – Aitkin, MN
Pharmacist Member

Sarah Wellington –St. Paul, MN
Consumer Member

Dr. Dawn Wyllie – Bemidji, MN
Health Care Provider

The Minnesota Department of Health is still seeking an administrator for the state's medical marjuana program.
 

Freedom Club on the air

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: July 10, 2014 - 1:28 PM

The conservative, Minnesota-based Freedom Club has started running a broadcast ad going after DFL Gov. Mark Dayton “and the Democrats.”

The ad, which targets government spending, repeatedly mentions a “luxury office building” in reference to the new Senate office building going up this year.

“Minnesota, we deserve better,” is the ad’s tagline.

According to public documents, the group has spent significant cash to run the ad. It spent nearly $160,000 to run it on KARE11 through August. That would indicate more than $500,000 in spending if it equalized its ad time across all four statewide stations.

With millions of dollars in campaign spending in recent years, the Freedom Club, supported by wealthy Minnesota conservatives, is one of the largest political action committees in the state.

Both Dayton's campaign and the pro-Democrat Alliance for a Better Minnesota sent reporters fact checks, claiming the ad takes the record out of context and gets basic things wrong.

Freedom Club officials did not return a message inquiring about the ad.

MN FREEDOM CLUB-901229 (14049403874870) by Rachel E. Stassen-Berger

Zellers picks up legislative endorsements

Posted by: Baird Helgeson Updated: July 10, 2014 - 11:32 AM

Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Kurt Zellers unveiled a slate of new legislative endorsements Thursday, gaining the support of 16 current and former Republican legislators.

“He is the only candidate for governor who has succeeded in advancing Republican principles on high-stakes issues,” said state Rep. Tara Mack, R-Apple Valley. “As Speaker of the House, Kurt made Governor Dayton and the liberal special interest groups surrender on the state budget, and he is the best candidate to defeat Mark Dayton this fall.”

Zellers is among four GOP candidates vying to take on DFL Gov. Mark Dayton, who is seeking a second term. Zellers’ gubernatorial rivals include Orono businessman Scott Honour, former state Rep. Marty Seifert and Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, who is the GOP endorsed candidate.

All four will face off in the Aug. 12 GOP primary, where voters will decide which one will challenge Dayton.

Here is the list of Zellers’ new endorsements:

Rep. Tony Albright, R-Prior Lake

Rep. Mark Anderson, R-Lake Shore

Rep. Greg Davids, R-Preston

Rep. Mary Liz Holberg, R-Lakeville

Rep. Joe Hoppe, R-Chaska

Rep. Jeff Howe, R-Rockville

Rep. Tim Kelly, R-Red Wing

Rep. Tara Mack, R-Apple Valley

Rep. John Petersburg, R-Owatonna

Rep. Tim Sanders, R-Blaine

Rep. Nick Zerwas, R-Elk River

Former Rep. Roger Crawford, R-Mora

Former Rep. Paul Kohls, R-Victoria

Former Rep. Doug Lindgren, R-Bagley

Former Rep. Mark Murdock, R-Ottertail

Former Rep. Jim Rhodes, R-St. Louis Park

Capitol restoration to get more visible, much of building to close to public

Posted by: Patrick Condon Updated: July 3, 2014 - 11:48 AM

Major portions of the State Capitol building, including its rotunda, will close to the public next week as the years-long restoration project enters its next phase. 

The Department of Administration announced Thursday that work would become much more visible after the July 4 weekend passes. Among the projects getting underway are the replacement of the roof, and prepping much of the building's interior for new mechanical and electrical system installation. 

That means closing off the rotunda, every floor of the building's east wing, and the ground and first floors of the West Wing. Administration officials said those spots need to be closed off both to protect the public and architectural features. 

"The interior and exterior of the Minnesota State Capitol is a live construction site," said Department of Administration Commissioner Spencer Cronk. "We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to preserve this beautiful building for the next century, but with that opportunity comes shome short-term inconveniences. There will be a lot of noise and detours." 

Many of the building's most prominent tenants have already been moved off site. Gov. Mark Dayton and his staff moved to the Veterans Services Building at the south end of the Capitol campus. Attorney General Lori Swanson and her office relocated to office space in downtown St. Paul. 

The only tenants remaining for now are state senators with offices in the building. They'll be moved out after the 2015 session. 

Most of the building's art has been removed and is being stored by the Historical Society. Flagpoles from the top of the building have been taken off to make room for the roof replacement, and the golden chariot sculpture at the base of the dome will be enclosed to protect it during construction. 

The $273 million renovation and repair of the Capitol is scheduled to finish up in 2017. It was initiated with a focus on repairing deteriorating exterior stone, addressing safety concerns in the aging building, replaced outdated systems and creating more public space. 

Local government lobbying costs increased to $8 million in 2013

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: June 23, 2014 - 11:35 AM

Local government lobbying costs increased to $8 million in 2013, a jump of a little less than $260,000 compared to 2012, according to a new report from the Office of the State Auditor.

The slight increase comes after a dip in local government lobbying. Back in 2012, the State Auditor found that lobbying costs decreased by 6 percent, or nearly $500,000, compared to 2011.

The report tallies up lobbying spending by "cities, counties, school districts, and special districts, directly employed staff and/or contracted with professional lobbyists to represent their interests before the Legislature," according to the office.

The year over year increase follows a pattern of higher spending during budget years, like 2013, compared to years when the Legislature largely focuses on capital borrowing issues, like 2012.

Still, the state mandated report also reflects the longer term trend of increasing lobbying costs. Back in 2003, local governments spent just over $6 million on lobbying, about $2 million less than they spent in 2013.

The 2013 annual report, like previous ones, found that larger local governments spent more on lobbying than smaller ones.

It also found that large lobbying firms made considerable sums lobbying for local governments.

Read the entire report here and all previous years' reports here.

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