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.

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Medical marijuana allies renew their push at Capitol

Posted by: Baird Helgeson Updated: April 22, 2014 - 11:58 AM
Parents of ailing children press for legalization of medical marijuana

Parents of ailing children press for legalization of medical marijuana

Parents of ailing children, doctors and clergy are intensifying their push to persuade legislators and Gov. Mark Dayton to legalize medical marijuana this year.

“Our leaders here in Minnesota have the opportunity to heal the sick and bind up the injured,” said the Rev. Catherine Schuyler, of Duluth. “They have the opportunity to make good medicine available to those who are in pain.”

Minnesotans for Compassionate Care, the group leading their effort, held a news conference at the Capitol on Tuesday to announce that 100 doctors and religious leaders from around the state support the measure.

The proposal would allow doctors to prescribe medical marijuana to patients with a host of ailments, including children who suffer from seizure disorders.

Federal regulators do not consider marijuana to have a medical benefit, so doctors are barred from prescribing it.

Dayton is bowing to the strong objections of law enforcement and health officials, who say that the change would make it easier for marijuana to end up in the hands of children and recreational users.

Dayton has tried to seek a compromise, offering to have the state pay for a Mayo Clinic study that would allow at least 200 children with seizures to be part of trials to see if marijuana does have medical benefits.

The study could provide new and potentially ground-breaking medical research in what has become a very political issue in Minnesota and around the country.

Medical marijuana advocates have so far rejected the study proposal, saying there is no guarantee that Mayo Clinic could legally obtain marijuana for the trial.

So advocates resumed their push for legalization, saying public opinion and existing medical research is on their side.

“Studies have shown that medical marijuana is a safe and effective treatment for people suffering from nausea, appetite loss and pain that are often caused by HIV/AIDS or the medical used to treat it,” said Bill Tiedemann, executive director of the Minnesota AIDS project.

No doctors or medical professionals attended the news conference, but the Minnesota Nurses Association released a statement of support.

“We believe this legislation will result in positive health outcomes for the sickest patients in Minnesota,” the group said.

House Elections panel to review Dayton campaign board appointees

Posted by: Patrick Condon Updated: April 21, 2014 - 4:25 PM

Gov. Mark Dayton's three most recent appointees to the state of Minnesota's campaign watchdog board are coming up for review by the House Elections Committee. 

The panel is scheduled to meet Tuesday morning for an overview of the appointments of Christian Sande, Ed Oliver and Jon Stafsholt to the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board. Oliver's appointment is the most notable, as he served from 1993 to 2002 as a state senator from western Hennepin County. 

When Dayton appointed Oliver last summer for a term that expires in 2017, he became the second former GOP legislator that the Democratic governor tapped for the campaign finance board. Former state representative Neil Peterson of Bloomington was the first. 

The board's current chairwoman is also a former state lawmaker. Deanna Wiener is a former DFL senator from Eagan. 

Dayton's other two appointees up for review by the House panel are Christian Sande, a private attorney who once ran for secretary of state as a Democrat; and Jon Stafsholt, a retired district judge from the state's Eighth Judicial District in west-central Minnesota.  

'Parks and Recreation' star to help Franken raise campaign cash

Posted by: Corey Mitchell Updated: April 17, 2014 - 9:50 AM

Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken is turning to another celebrity friend to help raise money for his 2014 reelection campaign. 

In an e-mail sent today, campaign manager Matt Burgess is offering supporters who donate to Franken's campaign by noon Friday a chance to party with him and “Parks and Recreation” star Amy Poehler in Los Angeles next Wednesday.

Franken’s campaign will cover the cost for airfare and lodging for the winner and a friend.

Republicans criticized Franken during the 2008 Senate race, saying the former Saturday Night Live writer and satirist wasn’t a serious candidate. That led Franken to deemphasize his celebrity ties.

But he's not shying away from his Hollywood connections this time around.

Jon Hamm of “Mad Men” fame and late night host Conan O’Brien are among the celebrities who’ve helped Franken raise campaign cash. Poehler and O’Brien, like Franken, are Saturday Night Live alums.

Senate candidate McFadden targets Franken's record in first TV ad

Posted by: Corey Mitchell Updated: April 17, 2014 - 8:43 AM

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mike McFadden is targeting Democratic incumbent Al Franken’s voting record in the first television ad of Minnesota’s Senate race.

The campaign ad features a hockey player misfiring slap shots whiles an announcer criticizes Franken’s votes on taxes, government spending and the Affordable Care Act.

"For Minnesota, it was miss after miss after miss," the announcer declares

McFadden then tells viewers that Minnesota needs "someone who's going to shoot straight in Washington”.

Minnesota DFL Party Chair Ken Martin said McFadden is the candidate who hasn't been a straight shooter on the issues.

“McFadden’s going to have to try a lot harder to paper over the fact that he’s been called out for refusing to be honest more times than I can count,” Martin said.

McFadden’s ad buy is $9,800 over 10 days and starts running today on cable in the Twin Cities television market. It’s the first candidate TV ad of the election cycle in Minnesota’s 2014 U.S. Senate race.

State Sen. Julianne Ortman, St. Louis County Commissioner Chris Dahlberg and state Rep. Jim Abeler are among the other GOP candidates vying to take on Franken.

Emmer raises $206,000 in race to replace Bachmann

Posted by: Corey Mitchell Updated: April 16, 2014 - 11:55 AM

Former gubernatorial candidate and state Rep. Tom Emmer is the leading fundraiser in the race to replace retiring Republican U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann.

Emmer reported $206,000 in campaign contributions through the first three months of 2014, while his opponents continue to rely largely on their own bank accounts.

Anoka County Board Chairwoman Rhonda Sivarajah and former state Rep. Phil Krinkie continued fund their own campaigns, with Sivarajah giving her campaign $170,000 while Krinkie spent $50,000 of his own money.

Donors contributed $12,000 to Krinkie and just $2,740 to Sivarajah during the fundraising period.

Including the personal contributions to his campaign, Krinkie has the most cash-on-hand with $291,000 banked. The total is nearly $40,000 more than Emmer’s $253,000. Sivarajah has $192,500 in reserves.

Emmer won the party endorsement at the Sixth District Republican convention over the weekend and Bachmann publicly backed his campaign Tuesday.

Sivarajah and Krinkie said they will remain in the race until the mid-August primary.

The GOP primary winner will be a heavy favorite come November, because the Sixth Congressional District is the state’s most conservative.

So far, political science professor Jim Read is the only Democratic candidate to file a first quarter campaign finance report. Read raised $26,771 and has $34,171 cash on hand.



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