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Hot Dish Politics

Tracking Minnesota’s political scene and keeping you up-to-date on those elected to serve you

Franken to vote against Gorsuch nomination

WASHINGTON - As Democrats line up to oppose Neil Gorsuch's confirmation to the Supreme Court, Sen. Al Franken is vowing to vote against Gorsuch and Sen. Amy Klobuchar appears to be leaning against him.

In an interview on WCCO this weekend, Franken said he feared that the federal appeals court judge from Denver would join Chief Justice John Roberts in making 5-4 rulings that favored corporations.

The senator criticized Gorsuch for his dissenting ruling in a case involving a trucker for TransAm, Alphonse Maddin, who argued that he was wrongfully fired for disobeying a supervisor’s orders to stay with a faulty trailer for hours in subzero temperatures. Concerned for his safety, Maddin drove away and was later fired.

“He really did not put himself in the shoes of that driver,” Franken said of Gorsuch.

The trucker, he added, “did what anyone would have done” and could have frozen to death otherwise.

The U.S. Circuit of Appeals last year ordered the company to rehire Maddin in a 2-1 decision.

During last week’s confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Gorsuch stressed that he had followed the law of the case. “I said it was an unkind decision, it might have been a wrong decision, a bad decision, but my job isn't to write the law.”

Klobuchar will announce her decision later this week on whether to vote for President Trump’s nominee to replace the late Antonin Scalia, but “she has serious concerns about Judge Gorsuch,” said a spokeswoman.

Democrats Klobuchar and Franken both sit on the Judiciary Committee, which is set to vote on Gorsuch’s nomination on April 3 before it goes to the full Senate. 

Senate Republicans pitch $208 million jobs bill

Republicans in the Minnesota Senate are aiming to expand job-training programs and business development with a $208 million jobs bill -- and more money from private businesses and organizations.

GOP senators on Monday unveiled a bill that would provide money to a handful of existing state job-creation programs and some new ones. Among them: a manufacturing work-training program for teenagers, a construction-training program for military veterans, and a North Minneapolis grocery store and wellness center.

Monday's announcement did not include specifics on funding for those programs. But Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka said the bill includes $20 million to expand broadband in rural areas of Minnesota -- and that those communities wouldn't have to spend as much local money to get the state funds. The bill lowers a required local match for broadband projects from 50 percent to 35 percent and drops the minimum level for state broadband grants from $5 million to $3 million.

Digi-Key, a Thief River Falls manufacturer of electronic components, was singled out as a major potential recipient of state support. Sen. Mark Johnson, R-East Grand Forks, said the company, which has announced plans to add 1,000 new jobs over the next decade, could get $40 million in tax incentives. 

"The problem up there in there in northwest Minnesota is that we're really lacking in infrastructure and lacking in a tax climate that's conducive to companies growing and staying there," Johnson said.