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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Sen. Al Franken says it's only "dignified" to raise minimum wage

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: April 3, 2014 - 5:41 PM

WASHINGTON -- Democratic Sen. Al Franken made a case to boost the federal minimum wage to $10.10 Thursday saying minimum wage earners would be good consumers and boost the economy if they had more cash.

"Businesses do need more customers and folks making the minimum wage are customers," Franken said, at a rally on Capitol HIll. "I go to businesses and ask them, why aren't you expanding and they say we don't have enough demand ... not enough customers."

Then he deadpanned: "Goldman Sachs is right on this one. As they are on so many things."

Franken added: "Parents shouldn't have to work two or three jobs to clothe and feed and put a roof over the head of their children and not be able to go to their kids' game," he said. "It's just wrong. That's not our country. That's not the richest country in the world."

 

Short of a full education overhaul, Rep. John Kline introduces charter school reform bill

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: April 2, 2014 - 1:34 PM

WASHINGTON -- GOP Rep. John Kline is more optimistic this time at his second attempt at overhauling the way the federal government treats charter schools.

The chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee has again introduced legislation that makes it easier for successful charter schools to replicate and allows states to use federal cash to start new charter schools.

Like the last time Kline pushed a charter school overhaul in the House, this measure has broad bipartisan support, including from his Democratic counterpart on the committee, Rep. George Miller, of California.

And like last time, the bill has decent odds of passing the whole U.S.. House of Representatives before they all adjourn to go home and run to get their jobs back this fall.

"We brought this bill out again and tweaked it again. It is a strong bipartisan bill that we can pass again with a strong bipartisan vote," Kline said, in an interview with the Star Tribune. "Then maybe we can get the Senate to move. I believe this is the best chance to push this through."

But the bill faces an uncertain future in the U.S.. Senate, where Democratic leaders there are holding out for an entire revamp of the largely unpopular No Child Left Behind law. In other words, Senate leaders don't want to take a piecemeal approach to education reform.

(The House has passed a comprehensive bill, but the Senate hasn't taken it up.)

"Sen. Harkin supports strengthening public charter schools," a spokesman for the Iowa Democrat said. Harkin chairs the Senate education committee. "He remains committed to moving a full Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization bill through the full Senate."

Kline's response to that?

"You can write that I want the same thing," he said.

But, he noted, he didn't want kids to suffer while Congress delays action on important work that affects tens of thousands of students across the country. (There are 6,000 public charter schools across the country.)

The overhaul of No Child Left Behind is among the many issues that have been lingering on the Congressional to-do list for several years. 

Kline visited a couple of Minnesota charter schools on Monday to promote his bill. He said wait lists top 1,000 kids at some of the most popular schools. He wants more kids to have the opportunity to go to a place they want. Across the country, charter advocates say 920,000 students are on wait lists.

"They just want another chance,"  he said.

Rep. Tim Walz leads men in Mankato 5K Saturday

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: March 31, 2014 - 3:51 PM

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Tim Walz, who has peeled off 85 pounds in the last year, bested all other men in a YMCA 5k over the weekend in Mankato.

Running roughly 6 minute, 30 second miles, the 49-year-old Walz, a Democrat, took second place in the LiveStrong YMCA 5k. He finished in 20 minutes, 24 seconds.

He was beaten only by Jill Nolta, a 27-year-old runner who came in at 18 minutes, 44 seconds. According to a Google search, Nolta often takes first place in these types of events.

Walz's spokesman says the congressman is training for a marathon and often goes jogging before work on the National Mall when Congress is in session.

Rep. Bachmann fundraises for her PAC -- even though she isn't running

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: March 31, 2014 - 3:09 PM

WASHINGTON -- Outgoing conservative firebrand Rep. Michele Bachmann is asking donors to give to her Political Action Committee -- even though she isn't running this year to keep her Congressional seat.

Minnesota Public Radio reported this morning that Bachmann's PAC, MichelePAC, recently sent out email seeking donations. 

Public records show the PAC could use some money.

In 2012, it raised $1.2 million and spent $1.4 million. For the 2014 cycle, MichelePAC raised $334,000, according to last filing, and has already spent $311,000, according to Center for Responsive Politics.

Bachmann's PAC released a statement Monday, noting the congresswoman has "always in the past been committed to supporting constitutional conservative candidates and her PAC activity and objectives continue to be consistent with those efforts."

Tea Party leaders call GOP Senate candidate a "phony" and "fraud"

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: March 30, 2014 - 12:01 PM

Tea Party leaders again took aim at GOP Senate candidate Mike McFadden calling him a "phony" and a "fraud" in a podcast that aired Wednesday.

McFadden, running against incumbent Democratic Sen. Al Franken, is continuing to claim that MSNBC host Chris Matthews attacked him on a cable news show last week even though the network confirmed Matthews was talking about Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick.

In a fundraising email, still running on Facebook, McFadden says Matthews is attacking him -- something Minnesota Tea Party Alliance leaders Jack Rogers and Jake Duesenberg called disingenuous.

"This guy is a fraud. He's an absolute fraud," Duesenberg said on his Living Free podcast. "They just need some people like us to expose this behavior, which isn't only Mike McFadden's campaign, this happens all over the United States, this happens time and time again." 

McFadden's campaign manager Brad Herold declined to comment Saturday.

This adds to the apparent trouble McFadden's camp is having with the Tea Party. The same leaders earlier this month railed on the businessman for declining speaking invitations. 

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