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 Gov. Mark Dayton

Minnesota tax collections beat annual target by $168 million

Posted by: Baird Helgeson Updated: July 10, 2014 - 4:15 PM

Minnesota tax collections surpassed expectations by $168 million over the last year, boosted largely by stronger than expected income and sales tax revenue.

Revenue collections had lagged slightly the last few months, but surging state income tax payments allowed state to take in $235 million more than state budget officials estimated for that period.

Corporate income taxes were down slightly, but higher than expected sales tax revenue helped make up for it. The corporate tax is the most volatile, and wild swings are not uncommon.

Minnesota budget officials warn that the U.S. economy hit "a deep pothole” at the beginning of 2014, resulting in the worst quarterly performance since the depths of the Great Recession in early 2009.

Economic experts attributed the drop to a sharp swing in the trade deficit, a surprise fall in health care spending and extreme winter weather. The bad weather slowed consumer spending, housing, and industrial activity.

Economists say the economy is staring to improve rapidly, with faster employment and income growth, along with improving home and vehicle sales.

Dayton appoints members to medical marijuana task force

Posted by: Abby Simons Updated: July 10, 2014 - 3:45 PM

Gov. Mark Dayton on Thursday named the 16 members appointed to a Task Force  that will oversee and evaluate the impact of medical marijuana in Minnesota.
The Task Force on Medical Cannabis Therapeutic Research was created when the Minnesota Legislature last May passed a bill legalizing the use of medical marijuana for a limited number of maladies. It is among the most restrictive medical marijuana laws in the nation.

The task force of health care providers, law enforcement, consumers and their parents from throughout the state make up the committee. Their terms are effective July 15 through Jan. 5, 2015.

Here are the members:

James Backstrom – Hastings, MN
Minnesota County Attorneys Association Representative

Duane Bandel – Minneapolis, MN
Consumer Member

Maria Botker – Clinton, MN
Parent Member

Dennis Flaherty – St. Paul, MN
Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association Representative

Karina Forrest – White Bear Township, MN
Substance Use Treatment Provider

James Franklin – St. Paul, MN
Minnesota Sheriff’s Association Representative

Dr. Pamela Gonzalez – Minneapolis, MN
Substance Use Treatment Provider

David Hartford – St. Cloud, MN
Substance Use Treatment Provider

Dr. Vincent Hayden – Minneapolis, MN
Substance Use Treatment Provider

Chief David Kolb – Champlin, MN
Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association Representative

Doreen McIntyre – Champlin, MN
Health Care Provider

Jeremy Pauling – Montevideo, MN
Parent Member

Dr. Charles Reznikoff – Minneapolis, MN
Health Care Provider

Laura Schwartzwald – Aitkin, MN
Pharmacist Member

Sarah Wellington –St. Paul, MN
Consumer Member

Dr. Dawn Wyllie – Bemidji, MN
Health Care Provider

The Minnesota Department of Health is still seeking an administrator for the state's medical marjuana program.
 

Zellers picks up legislative endorsements

Posted by: Baird Helgeson Updated: July 10, 2014 - 11:32 AM

Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Kurt Zellers unveiled a slate of new legislative endorsements Thursday, gaining the support of 16 current and former Republican legislators.

“He is the only candidate for governor who has succeeded in advancing Republican principles on high-stakes issues,” said state Rep. Tara Mack, R-Apple Valley. “As Speaker of the House, Kurt made Governor Dayton and the liberal special interest groups surrender on the state budget, and he is the best candidate to defeat Mark Dayton this fall.”

Zellers is among four GOP candidates vying to take on DFL Gov. Mark Dayton, who is seeking a second term. Zellers’ gubernatorial rivals include Orono businessman Scott Honour, former state Rep. Marty Seifert and Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, who is the GOP endorsed candidate.

All four will face off in the Aug. 12 GOP primary, where voters will decide which one will challenge Dayton.

Here is the list of Zellers’ new endorsements:

Rep. Tony Albright, R-Prior Lake

Rep. Mark Anderson, R-Lake Shore

Rep. Greg Davids, R-Preston

Rep. Mary Liz Holberg, R-Lakeville

Rep. Joe Hoppe, R-Chaska

Rep. Jeff Howe, R-Rockville

Rep. Tim Kelly, R-Red Wing

Rep. Tara Mack, R-Apple Valley

Rep. John Petersburg, R-Owatonna

Rep. Tim Sanders, R-Blaine

Rep. Nick Zerwas, R-Elk River

Former Rep. Roger Crawford, R-Mora

Former Rep. Paul Kohls, R-Victoria

Former Rep. Doug Lindgren, R-Bagley

Former Rep. Mark Murdock, R-Ottertail

Former Rep. Jim Rhodes, R-St. Louis Park

Dayton joins Iron Range miners pressing for end to illegal steel dumping

Posted by: Baird Helgeson Updated: June 23, 2014 - 12:16 PM

VIRGINA, Minn. -- DFL Gov. Mark Dayton urged iron miners to step up the fight against foreign countries illegally dumping steel in the U.S. and threatening the local mining industry.

“The story of the Iron Range is one of standing strong against exploitation and oppression, and too often of a government that will not stand with them,” Dayton said to a cheering crowd of 1,500 iron miners. “Today’s enemies are not the companies, but the countries that dump their steel in the U.S. market, depress the prices and take away your jobs.”

The Iron Range miners were rallying against alleged illegal steel dumping from Asian countries, and pressed for the federal government to impose tariffs on steel from those counties. The issue is particularly raw on the Iron Range, where the steel mining industry has been socked with more than a decade of mine closures and bankruptcies, in part due to pressure from low-cost foreign competitors.

Standing with blaze orange hard hats, the crowd chanted, “Mine it here, make it here!” and “Stand up, fight back! Stand up, fight back!”

 

 

 

Click the photo above to see it in 360 degrees.

In advance of President Obama’s visit to Minnesota later this week, Sen. Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, urged the president to return to Washington with a renewed commitment to ending the dumping of low-cost foreign steel.

“Iron mining has been the lifeblood of the Iron Range for four generations, and it can be the lifeblood for four more,” said Bakk, who is the Senate majority leader.

The event took broader election-year implications as Republican candidates have tried to make inroads in an area that has been a stronghold for Dayton and other Democrats.

GOP gubernatorial candidate Scott Honour’s running mate, state Sen. Karin Housley, drove up to attend the rally.

“Scott Honour and I support the mining jobs in northern Minnesota,” Housley said. “We are all about mining jobs.”

After the rally, Housley toured the proposed copper-nickel mine in Hoyt Lakes, where PolyMet Corp. is seeking approval for a mine that could bring hundreds of jobs and millions in new investment. But the 20-year mine would also require environmental clean-up that could stretch 500 years.

Housley said she has a long connection to PolyMet. She is a member of a small group of hobbyist investors who first invested in PolyMet about eight years ago and even toured the facility.

“There is room for common-sense growing jobs and protecting the environment,” she said. “We are all over creating jobs up here.”

GOP-endorsed gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson issued a statement saying Dayton is not leading on job-creation issues on the Iron Range.

“Attending rallies is not leading – it is standing,” Johnson said. “When I am governor, I am not just going to stand with people who are losing their jobs, I am going to do everything I can to ensure that mining jobs aren’t just protected, they are expanded.”

Dayton and other Democrats took direct aim at Republicans at the rally, saying that the GOP has repeatedly tried to raid special Iron Range funds whenever the budget got tight. Democrats said the Republican’s sudden interest in the Iron Range is a fleeting political ploy.

Republicans tried to raid an Iron Range fund, "and we said, ‘No way, it’s not going to happen.’ And it didn’t,” Dayton said. Dayton and other Democrats fought for projects and jobs “that would improve your quality of life on the Iron Range, across Minnesota and across the country.”

Minnesota makes another push for income tax reciprocity

Posted by: Baird Helgeson Updated: June 19, 2014 - 3:04 PM

Minnesota and Wisconsin residents who live in one state but work in the other could soon have their income taxes dramatically simplified as part of a new tax reciprocity proposal.

Minnesota revenue officials on Thursday offered to lower Wisconsin’s annual payment by $1 million if the Badger state approves of the agreement by Sept. 30.

‘That millions dollars is part of Minnesota’s strong desire to reinstate income tax reciprocity,” said Sen. Roger Reinert, a Duluth Democrat who has worked with other border legislators for an agreement. “This really is us extending a hand and saying, ‘Work with us.’”

Wisconsin and Minnesota have not been able to broker a new arrangement since the four decade old income tax reciprocity agreement lapsed at the end of 2009. Suddenly, 80,000 residents who lived in one state but worked over the border had to file income taxes in both states.

Wisconsin revenue officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

The deadlock has come down to money.

Minnesota revenue officials studied the issue and determined that about 56,000 Wisconsin residents work in Minnesota, more than double the amount of Gopher state residents who cross the border for work.

Minnesota's study concluded that Wisconsin needs to pay about $92.5 million a year due to the difference.

The problem is, that’s about $4 million more than Wisconsin officials believe they should pay.

Minnesota made similar offers in 2012 and 2013, but both offers included the $4 million gap. Wisconsin officials rejected both proposals.

This year, Minnesota legislators decided to see if an additional $1 million might sweeten the deal.

“It really is a desire on the part of border legislators who are trying to make it a little smoother,” said Minnesota Department of Revenue Commissioner Myron Frans.

Differing tax rates between the two states also aggravates the problem.

Minnesota limits the credit it offers consumers for taxes paid in another state to the amount they would pay if they lived in state. Frans said he does not believe Minnesota taxpayers should subsidize Wisconsin’s higher effective tax rate.

Wisconsin officials have said their residents already pay enough.

Reinert and other border legislators said they still routinely hear from residents frustrated with having to file two state income tax forms.

Business owners, Reinert said, are just as frustrated that they have to keep two sets of tax records for employees who live across the border.

The issue boiled over in 2009 as the economy tanked and budget officials in both states were desperate for money.

Wisconsin delayed its payments to balance the state budget, creating a deeper hole for Minnesota's budget officials.

Then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty grew frustrated and let the program expire, saying that Wisconsin’s 17-month delay was too much for Minnesota’s shaky budget.

The new agreement allows Wisconsin to make four equal payments a year, minimizing one-time blows that can be difficult in a sagging economy.

For state leaders, the issue has become a balance between protecting state money and promoting convenience for taxpayers.

Frans said the governor authorized the new $1 million dollar offer, but they refuse to make a deal unless it is fair for all Minnesota taxpayers.

Minnesota still has reciprocity agreements with Michigan and North Dakota.

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