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 Democrats

Republicans call on Rep. Rick Nolan to cancel fundraiser with 1960s star

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: April 11, 2014 - 4:12 PM

WASHINGTON -- Republicans on Friday slammed Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan for planning a fundraiser with Peter Yarrow, the singer from the 1960s band Peter, Paul and Mary, who admitted in 1970 to having improper relations with a 14-year-old girl.

Nolan is hosting a fundraiser April 25 with Yarrow, who is playing at Duluth's Sacred Heart Music Center for a concert afterwards. The fundraiser, at Bowery Brothers Pub in Duluth, asks for a suggested donation of $50.

Yarrow has vexed Democratic fundraisers before. Last year, Republicans criticized Martha Robertson, a New York Democrat, for planning an event with him, according to the Buffalo News. She refused to cancel the event and Republicans ran an attack ad against her for it.

That same article points out that Yarrow has donated almost $15,000 to Democratic candidates since 1998 and he performed for Obama volunteers during the 2008 presidential campaign.

“Rick Nolan should immediately cancel his fundraiser with a convicted child molester and apologize to his constituents," said Tyler Q. Houlton at the National Republican Congressional Committee, in an e-mailed statement.

Nolan's spokeswoman deferred comments to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

“This is a desperate attempt from Stewart Mills to distract from the fact that he is personally offended when millionaires like himself are asked to pay their fair share," said Brandon Lorenz, in an emailed statement.

Mills is the Republican running to unseat Nolan, who is in his first term, though served in the U.S. House of Representatives previously between 1975 and 1981.



On Monday afternoon, minimum wage hike to $9.50 becomes law

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: April 11, 2014 - 10:47 AM

DFL Gov. Mark Dayton will usher in a new era of wage hikes for Minnesota's lowest paid on Monday.

The measure will, over time, raise the minimum wage from one of the nation's lowest to one of its highest.

Right now, the state's minimum for most employers is $6.15 an hour. With the new law,  it will be $9.50 an hour by 2016.

"The governor is looking forward to signing a bill into law that will improve the lives of over 300,000 Minnesotans," Matt Swenson, Dayton's spokesman, said.

Dayton will sign the measure into law Monday at 2:30 p.m. at the Capitol. Advocates who have pushed Democrats to increase the wage floor for two years are expected to crowd into the rotunda for the event.

Photo: A February rally backing the minimum wage hike//Associated Press

Minnesota Senate passes $100 million in tax relief

Posted by: Baird Helgeson Updated: April 10, 2014 - 5:09 PM

Minnesotans would get more than $100 million in tax relief as part of a proposal that sailed through the Minnesota Senate on Thursday with bipartisan support.

The measure includes tax relief for businesses, veterans and transit users. It also provides tax breaks for volunteer emergency responders, parents who pay for tutors and people who lost their home through foreclosure or a short sale.

The measure, which passed 57-6, expands the local sales tax exemption for local governments. It also eliminates sales taxes for snowmobile clubs, post-season high school events and nonprofit fundraising groups.

This is the second tax relief bill of the legislative session, coming just a month after legislators approved $443 million mostly in income tax cuts.

Legislators are paying for the tax relief out of the $1.2 billion projected budget surplus for the remainder of the fiscal period. They have also set aside $150 million to increase the state's rainy-day fund.

Republicans who voted against the newest tax-relief measure have pressed Democrats to return a larger share of the surplus to taxpayers.

The Senate bill differs dramatically from a similar measure on the House, which would spend about the same amount of money, but directs it largely toward property tax relief.

If legislators are committed to passing more tax relief, House and Senate leaders will have to work out their differences in coming weeks before the legislative session adjourns.

DFL Gov. Mark Dayton said he is open to approving more property tax relief this session.

Paulsen calls for criminal investigation of former IRS official

Posted by: Corey Mitchell Updated: April 10, 2014 - 9:28 AM

Republican U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen voted to send U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder a letter that seeks a criminal investigation of actions by former Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner, whom Republicans accuse of improperly scrutinizing tax exemption requests from conservative organizations.

“Lois Lerner, the IRS official at the center of this decision, has refused to testify before Congress and explain the actions of her department,” Paulsen said in a statement released Wednesday. “The Department of Justice needs to hold Ms. Lerner accountable and show that using a government position to push a political agenda will not be tolerated.”

The House Ways and Means Committee's fourteen-page letter to Holder suggests Lerner, the former head of the IRS tax-exempt division, used her post to improperly influence agency action against only conservative organizations, denying these groups due process and equal protection rights under the law. It says she specifically targeted Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS group for IRS examination.

Leaders of two Minnesota groups – the Rochester Tea Party Patriots and Minnesota Majority – believe the IRS targeted them for extra scrutiny.

The letter also claims Lerner impeded official investigations by providing misleading statements in response to questions. Committee Chairman Dave Camp of Michigan released a statement that accused Lerner of "shamefully" attempting to blame the "mistreatment on low-level employees.”

In a post on his blog last year, Paulsen called the IRS actions “simply un-American.”

Voting along party lines, the Ways and Means Committee decided Wednesday to send the letter to Holder.

The top Democrat on the committee, Sander Levin of Michigan, said the Justice Department is already investigating the IRS's actions.

“Republican members of the Ways and Means Committee have decided that they do not want to be left behind in the Republican campaign to declare this a scandal and keep it going until November,” Levin said in a statement.

4 9 14 Lerner Referral

Dayton delays State of the State address until April 30

Posted by: Baird Helgeson Updated: April 9, 2014 - 7:24 PM

Gov. Mark Dayton is postponing his State of the State speech one week until April 30, his office announced Wednesday.

The governor has been recuperating from hip surgery and had planned to give his annual address the week before.

“The governor would simply like more time to prepare his remarks,” said Linden Zakula, s Dayton spokesman.

The governor is scheduled to give the address in the House chambers, with House members and state Senators present.



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