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 Minnesota state senators

Ortman unveils 'Turnaround Plan' for U.S. Senate run

Posted by: Abby Simons Updated: May 20, 2014 - 5:51 PM

Minnesota State Sen. Julianne Ortman formally filed her candidacy for U.S. Senate, in the process unveiling a 12-point “Ortman Turnaround Plan" that includes repealing the Affordable Care Act in favor of a state model, eliminating government spying and eliminating the nation’s $900 billion budget gap without raising taxes.

It's a blueprint, she said, for a successful run for U.S. Senate.

“I’ve been working on it as the result of many years of service to the state of Minnesota at the state Capitol, but also in 10 months on the campaign trail listening to Minnesotans concerned about our nation who want to see real solutions," she aid.

Ortman, a lawyer from Chanhassen and 12-veteran of the Senate, of seven Republican candidates vying to take on Democratic Sen. Al Franken, touted her experience as chair of the Minnesota Senate’s Tax Committee to close a $5 billion deficit in the state. She can accomplish the same in Washington, she said.

Ortman added that she would oppose gas tax increases and prioritize money for roads and bridges over other projects like the controversial Southwest Light Rail expansion.

“In this case the light rail project from Minneapolis to Eden Prairie is not a priority for Minnesota, yet half the money is being matched from Washington D.C.,” Ortman said. “Make no mistake, Minnesota will have to pay both halves.”

Ortman’s unveiling comes less than two weeks before the Minnesota Republican Party’s state convention in Rochester, where she said she will abide by the endorsement. Key, she said, is unifying the Republican Party by reaching as many delegates as possible, but also preparing for a primary should she receive the endorsement.

“My message is broad-based. It’s not targeted toward a particular voter or voting bloc, but to all Minnesotans,” she said. “The Ortman Turnaround Plan is not about a convention or delegates, it’s about the relationship between Minnesota and Washington and the fact that Minnesotans expect better out of Washington from our elected leaders.”

View the Ortman turnaround plan here.


If the Legislature finishes before Monday's deadline, how unusual would that be?

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: May 16, 2014 - 6:54 PM

Minnesota legislators appear to be on track to finish their work before their mandated Monday adjournment.

Before the congratulations, take note: the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library found that in the second year of the biennium, like this year, "they have adjourned sine die before the constitutional adjournment date in all but two years since 1973."

In other words, finishing Friday when they have to finish by Monday would not be unusual.

See the chart the library put together below:

Even legislators get surprised; here's how. VIDEO

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: May 16, 2014 - 6:23 PM

Minnesotans are often shocked by the Legislature.

But legislators also get surprised.

Reporter Abby Simons asked them what surprised them this session. They answered.

Rep. Brian Johnson, R-Cambridge:

Rep. Michael Paymar, DFL-St. Paul:

Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mezeppa:

Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis:

Rep. Greg Davids, R-Preston:

Rep. Leon Lillie, DFL-North St. Paul:

Rep. Paul Torkelson, R-Hanska:

On near unanimous votes, legislators usher in $100 million in tax cuts

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: May 16, 2014 - 4:29 PM

With near unanimous votes, the Minnesota and Senate approved a tax bill to usher in $103 million in tax cuts and enable southwestern Minnesota to fund its portion of a water piping project.

The bill now heads to Gov. Mark Dayton for his signature.

The measure's tax relief comes in addition to the income and business tax cuts legislators approved a few months ago.

"This is a good bill," Senate Taxes Committee chair Rod Skoe, DFL-Clearbrook.

The tax bill won particular plaudits from Rep. Rod Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake.

"I simply want to say: thank you, thank you, a thousand thank yous," Hamilton said.

His parched southwestern districts is among those due to benefit from the Lewis and Clark water project, which became a linchpin of this year's legislative session.

Finding $22 million in state funding for the project and developing policy language allowing local governments to raise money to pay their shares caused a melee among lawmakers in the waning hours. But, with just hours to go before expected adjournment, lawmakers and the Dayton administration worked it out.

The measure would enable state government to send out refund checks to Minnesotans shortly before the 2014 session, Sen. Julianne Ortman, R-Chanhassen noted during Senate debate.

Under the legislation, about 500,000 homeowners would get a refund on their property taxes with the average refund this year amounting to $837 this year. About 350,000 renters would get a refund as well, with their average coming to about $643. Small businesses and farmers would also see refunds.

"It's amazing what we can do when we work together," said Sen. Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa.

Photos: House vote on taxes (top); Senate vote on taxes (lower).


House approves ban on online lotto scratch-off sales, measure heads to Dayton

Posted by: Abby Simons Updated: May 16, 2014 - 2:21 PM

Less than two hours after a Senate vote to ban the sale of online scratch-off tickets, the Minnesota House of Representatives followed suit, sending the measure to Gov. Mark Dayton.

The House voted 126-2 for the ban following more criticism for the Minnesota Lottery for adopting online sales, as well as sales at gas pumps and ATMs, without the Legislature’s approval. Online sales of Powerball and similar tickets remained intact.

“We have a state lottery that has been out of control,” said Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa. “This brings them back into control.”

Rep. Rick Hansen, DFL-South St. Paul, said that although he intended to vote for the measuere, it was another example of the Legislature being behind a measure that has already been adopted. He suggested a technology working group to address these issues, considering the Legislature only convenes for a few months a eyar.

“I think as a Legislature, we are going to have to try to get handle on how we approach technology,” Hansen said.

Dayton has not indicated whether he would sign the bill. Lottery Executive Director Ed Van Petten said that although he was disappointed on a legislative move he claimed was built from misinformation, he stopped short of saying he’d urge Dayton to veto the bill.

“Only if he asks my opinion,” Van Petten said. “I totally trust his judgment to do what’s right for us and for him. We live in a political world and he’s the boss.”


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