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 President Obama

Minnesota Democrats press Obama to sign order protecting LGBT workers from discrimination

Posted by: Corey Mitchell Updated: March 19, 2014 - 8:15 AM

Six of the seven Democrats in Minnesota’s congressional delegation are among the House and Senate members pressuring President Obama to sign an executive order protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans from workplace discrimination.

All told, 195 members of Congress signed the letter, including U.S. Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar and U.S. Reps. Keith Ellison, Betty McCollum, Rick Nolan and Tim Walz signed the letter; Democratic congressman Collin Peterson did not.

Obama has the ability to ban employment discrimination by government contractors.

“Issuing an executive order prohibiting discrimination against LGBT workers in federal contracts would build on the significant progress for LGBT rights made during your time as President and would further your legacy as a champion for LGBT equality. We urge you to act now to prevent irrational, taxpayer-funded workplace discrimination against LGBT Americans,” the letter reads.

Congressional legislation would apply to all employers. The proposed Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) has passed the Democratic-controlled Senate, but the legislation has stalled in the Republican-led House.

No Republicans signed on to the letter asking Obama to issue an executive order.

White House officials would prefer to see Congress pass ENDA, since executive action wouldn't protect all LGBT workers.

Ellison, a member of the U.S. House LGBT Equality Caucus, will moderate a panel discussion on transgender concerns, issues of inequality and LGBT youth experiences at 5 p.m. central standard time today at the Fridley Community Center.

Congressional letter to President Obama requesting an executive order protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual an...

Gophers women hockey among teams to be hosted by president today

Posted by: Corey Mitchell Updated: March 7, 2014 - 6:41 PM

The University of Minnesota women's hockey team is among 20 NCAA championship teams that will be hosted at the White House today by President Obama.

The event is scheduled for 1 p.m.Twin Cities time and begins with a tour of the White House.

The Gophers women are the two-time defending NCAA champions and are the No. 1 seed in this year's tournament. Minnesota plays Boston University at 4 p.m. Saturday at Ridder Arena, with the winner going to the women's Frozen Four the following week in Connecticut.

Live video of the event will be available here.




Bachmann to speak at CPAC

Posted by: Corey Mitchell Updated: March 6, 2014 - 6:07 AM

Republican congresswoman Rep. Michele Bachmann will speak at the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in suburban Washington, D.C., this weekend.

She’ll share the stage Saturday morning with Tea Party Patriots President Jenny Beth Martin.

Bachmann’s speech at the 2013 conference drew national headlines and scrutiny from fact checkers.

In the days after her remarks, The Washington Post’s Fact Checker column awarded her eight “Pinocchios” – four for her claims about the federal food stamp programs and four more for claims about President Obama’s White House budget, which she said was filled with “perks and excess.”

Hosted by the American Conservative Union, the three-day conference showcases tea party activists, conservative opinion leaders and prospective GOP presidential candidates.

Bachmann has addressed CPAC events every year since 2010, often using the platform to criticize the Obama administration. Last year, she claimed that Obama went “AWOL” after a deadly attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya on September11, 2012.

Bachmann was one of just 15 House lawmakers to earn a 100 percent on the American Conservative Union’s recently released 2013 scorecard, a tool used to inform conservative voters about members of Congress.

Bachmann won’t be the only Minnesota lawmaker addressing the conference.

State Rep. Tara Mack, R-Apple Valley, has a midday Friday speaking slot, according to the event schedule.

On minimum wage negotiations, a 'stalemate' for now

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: March 5, 2014 - 6:15 PM

After some blunt words and two days of tense meetings, legislative negotiators on minimum wage have reached an impasse for now.

Lawmakers are tied up with whether or not to add an inflationary bump to their move to phase in the proposed increase in the wage floor to $9.50 an hour by 2016.

Against a backdrop of national Democrats, including President Obama, Democratic campaign arms and several members of the Minnesota congressional delegation, pushing for a federal minimum wage hike, DFLers controlling the Minnesota House and Senate have reached what Rep. Ryan Winkler called a "stalemate."

"It doesn't look like we're making a lot of progress," Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley, told his fellow lawmakers as they attempted to negotiate a minimum wage compromise on Wednesday.

Since Monday, when Senate officials said for the first time they would support a minimum wage of $9.50 an hour, House and Senate officials have been unable to agree whether future minimum wage increases should be automatic.

Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said on Tuesday that if the House insisted on including an inflationary bump, "there won't be a bill."

House Speaker Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, replied, "if the Senate wants to kill the bill, they should just tell Minnesotans directly."

While tempers appeared to have cooled publicly by Wednesday, legislators were still stymied over the question of inflation in minimum wage increases come 2017.

"The inflator is a non-starter in the Senate. I don't have the votes," Sen. Chris Eaton, a Brooklyn Center Democrat who is the Senate's chief negotiator, said on Wednesday.

The negotiators, who met every day this week, will not meet publicly again until Monday. Winkler suggested that in the interim it may be helpful for lawmakers to talk about creative approaches to dealing with the inflation question.

At least one DFL House member tried social media to move things forward:

Photo: A minimum wage rally at the state Capitol greeted lawmakers as they returned to session last week // Source: Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune

Nolan, Peterson back GOP plan to delay health care law's penalty tax

Posted by: Corey Mitchell Updated: March 5, 2014 - 5:06 PM

The Republican-led House of Representatives voted Wednesday to delay the tax penalty Americans will pay under President Obama’s healthcare law if they decline to sign up for coverage this year.

The bill passed with support from 27 Democrats, including Minnesota congressmen Rick Nolan and Collin Peterson, backing the legislation.

The individual mandate requires most Americans to be enrolled in health coverage by March 31 or pay a tax penalty. The House legislation would delay the fine for one year.

The bill is expected to stall in the Democratic-controlled Senate and would face a White House veto even if it succeeded.

Peterson, a conservative Democrat, has voted for similar measures before.

The Congressional Leadership Fund, a political action committee chaired by former Republican U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman, pounced on Nolan’s vote, calling it an “election year conversion.”

“He thinks he can pull a fast one on Minnesotans, right? With this vote, he’ll show them that he’s now protecting individuals from Obamacare, right?” an email from the political action committee read. “Except Minnesotans already know that Rick Nolan is an entrenched supporter of the health care law.”

Supporters of the GOP bill argue that individual consumers should be granted a delay because the Obama administration has postponed the implementation of several Affordable Care Act provisions that apply to businesses.

“No American should have to pay a penalty simply because the roll out of the Affordable Care Act has been so confusing. Moreover, if you’re going to give an exemption to businesses, you should also give an exemption to individuals. It’s only fair,” Nolan said in a statement. “We need to take the time to fix the enrollment glitches and get this right – and in the meantime allow the American people the common sense flexibility this one year delay provides.”



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