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, J. Patrick Coolican, Patricia Lopez, Ricardo Lopez, Abby Simons, and Glen Stubbe. Contributors in D.C.: Allison Sherry, Jim Spencer and intern Beena Raghavendran.

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Sen Franken hosts a (bipartisan) Hotdish cookoff with delegation

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: April 17, 2015 - 12:38 PM

WASHINGTON -- For the fifth time, Democratic Sen. Al Franken wants to taste his colleagues' cooking.

On April 22, Franken will host the annual Hotdish competition -- a bipartisan cook-off for the ten members of the Minnesota Congressional delegation.

They borrow a big conference room in a Senate office building and each member has to furnish a dish for the event -- sometimes we wonder whether they cooked it themselves or had some, um, help. This year's judges are Star Tribune editorial writer Jill Burcum and MinnPost alum Devin Henry, who departed for The Hill recently. 

"Sen. Franken started the friendly competition as a way to bring the delegation together to put partisanship aside and celebrate a Minnesota culinary tradition," Franken's staffers said in a statement.

Democratic Rep. Tim Walz's cooking seems to be a favorite. He took the top prize last year for his "Turkey Trot Tater-Tot Hotdish" and in 2013 for his "Hermann the German Hotdish."

(This was before my time, does that have sausage?)

In 2012, Franken's "Mom's Mahnomnin Madness Hotdish" and former Rep. Chip Cravaack's "Minnesota Wild Strata Hotdish" tied for first place.

Don't worry. We'll post photos of the event that day.

Sen. Franken gets amendments into massive No Child overhaul

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: April 16, 2015 - 5:14 PM

WASHINGTON -- The  U.S. Senate on Thursday was close to wrapping up its markup of the sprawling bipartisan overhaul to No Child Left Behind that, from most accounts, has inclusions that make both Democrats and Republicans uncomfortable.

Democratic Sen. Al Franken has been in the room all week trying to find accord with Republicans and said on Thursday the measure worried him in some key areas because he wants to keep robust accountability in place.

"I want a bipartisan solution ... and I'm hopeful that we can find common ground to improve the bill when it comes before the full Senate," he said in a statement.

Among amendments included that were authored by Franken: 

-Mental Health In Schools: Allows schools to partner with community organizations to expand access to mental health services for students.

-Principal Training and Recruitment: Improves the preparation, placement and retention of effective principals.

-Accelerated Learning: Seeks to raise student academic achievement and save students and families cash through acclerated learning programs.

-STEM Education: Includes targeted funding for Science Technology Engineering and Math instruction and teacher development. 

On the House side, Republican Rep. John Kline's bill to remake No Child Left Behind is stalled out because it didn't have enough support among Republicans. He said this week he is working on educating members and hopes for a vote soon. 

Rep. Nolan rails against Rep. McCollum's mining bill

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: April 16, 2015 - 10:06 AM
WASHINGTON -- A measure introduced by Rep. Betty McCollum this week that would prohibit all future mining on federally managed lands in the Rainy River Watershed area up in northern Minnesota drew the ire from the Democrat who represents the area.
Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan, who represents northeastern Minnesota, including the Iron Range and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, said late Wednesday in a somewhat breathless statement that he would "vigorously oppose" McCollum's legislation. 

"The simple truth is this bill is a duplicative, overlapping regulatory scheme designed to prohibit mining on the Iron Range," Nolan said. "The fact is, we have the brains, technology and regulations to both mine and protect the environment."

He went on, "Mining is what we do on the Range and is at the heart of our regional and national economy. This is truly a "Made in America" industry -- with 140 prosperous years of quality products and thousands of good-paying jobs."

McCollum, who represents St. Paul and has a high-ranking spot on the House Appropriations Interior subcommittee, said she crafted the proposal because she wanted to ensure water flowing into Voyageurs National Park and Boundary Waters Canoe Area "is as clean and clear as the water inside those protected areas."
McCollum's bill has an uncertain future in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. She said Thursday in an interview that she "lives in the real world and I think it's pretty slim."
She called Nolan's statement misleading.
"I think Rick and I both share a goal in recognizing the treasures and the fact that boundary waters do need protection but my bill, contrary to what his release looks like, only prohibits the federal government from issuing any new leases on federal lands. So it doesn't ban mining," she said. 

Rep. John Kline DFL opponent Angie Craig raises $200K in two weeks

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: April 14, 2015 - 5:07 PM

WASHINGTON -- Angie Craig, one of the two DFL candidates hoping to unseat Rep. John Kline in the Second Congressional District, raised $200,000 in two weeks, her campaign said Tuesday.

Craig, a vice president of a medical device company,told the Star Tribune she was planning to run in January. She didn't file paperwork until April 5, which was the start of the second quarter of this year.

Craig is one of two DFL candidates who have announced a challenge to Kline. Dr. Mary Lawrence, an ophthalmologist, said last week she, too, was seeking the DFL endorsement. Lawrence said she has raised $215,000 and donated another $300,000 to her campaign.

Republican David Gerson has said he plans to challenge Kline on the Republican side.

First quarter fundraising totals will be posted tomorrow.

Sen. Klobuchar to give back Sen. Menendez campaign contributions

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: April 2, 2015 - 11:22 AM

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Amy Klobuchar's office confirmed Thursday she will give back campaign contributions from indicted New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez and a Menendez donor who was also indicted.

Klobuchar's office will return $10,000 her campaign received in 2012 from the New Jersey senator's Political Action Committee. She will also return $8,000 she received from Salomon Melgen, a Florida doctor who was also indicted yesterday 

In the wording of the indictment, Klobuchar could be "Senator 1" who reportedly made an agreement with Menendez to each raise $25,000 for each other's re-election bids. Her office is not in trouble and did not face any questions of wrongdoing, said Justin Buoen, a Klobuchar campaign aide.

"Our campaign has never received questions from federal authorities about these contributions," he said, in a statement.

In 2008, Democratic Sen. Al Franken also received $10,000 from Menendez's Political Action Committee. No word on whether he plans to return the money.

National Republicans have been urging senators and other politicians who received money from Menendez to return the cash.


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