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 2nd District

Kline: Federal plan to combat disparities in school discipline could have “chilling effect” on teachers, school leaders

Posted by: Corey Mitchell Updated: March 24, 2014 - 11:35 AM

Republican U.S. Rep. John Kline, the chairman of the House Education Committee, argues that local educators, not the federal government, are best equipped to solve the problem of racial disparities in school discipline.

The federal Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights released a report last week that shows that black students are suspended and expelled at a rate that’s three times higher than their white peers.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Attorney General Eric Holder have urged educators across the country to move away from practices that suspend students for minor infractions and disproportionately affect minority students.

Looking to crack down on disparities in school punishment, the Obama administration released national guidelines this year that encourage districts to reconsider “zero-tolerance” discipline policies that federal officials said have led to high suspension and expulsion rates, especially among minority students.

In a February letter to Duncan and Holder, Kline agreed that “opposing discrimination is a shared goal,” but argued that the federal guidelines “may have a chilling effect” on teachers and school leaders already working to address the issue.

Kline led the letter, which three other Republican committee members signed. The lawmakers said the Obama administration guidelines contain practical recommendations, but “ultimately, we fear the departments’ guidance could limit educators’ ability to enforce appropriate discipline policies needed to promote a safe learning environment for students,” they wrote.

Kline’s staff did not respond to requests for comment on last week’s Education Department report on racial disparities.

While unveiling the federal guidelines in January, Duncan said the discipline disparity “is not caused by differences in children” but rather by “differences in training … and discipline policies.”

Duncan and Holder School Discipline Letter

Kline helps craft GOP alternative to Obama’s health care law

Posted by: Corey Mitchell Updated: March 3, 2014 - 6:21 AM

Minnesota congressman John Kline is offering scant details on Republican plans to craft an alternative to President Obama’s health care law.

Kline met privately on Friday with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and fellow Republican Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Dave Camp of Michigan on Friday to begin gathering the party’s best ideas.

The session didn't produce legislation, but Cantor has pledged to introduce a bill this year that would replace the Affordable Care Act and not just repeal it.

To that end, he’s drafted top committee chairs – Kline on Education and the Workforce, Ryan on Budget and Camp on Ways and Means – to build support on their respective panels and find consensus among the party with the help of McMorris Rodgers, who chairs the Republican Conference.

“The American people deserve positive health care solutions and that’s what we intend to deliver,” said Kline spokesman Troy Young. “Congressman Kline is pleased with the meeting and expects this to be the first of many, but it would be premature to address any specific ideas that were discussed today.”

House Republicans, including Kline, have voted more than 50 times to repeal, defund or alter the Affordable Care Act, but thus far been unable to unify around a credible alternative. But the Democratic-led Senate has slammed the brakes on their plans.

Now, months ahead of the 2014 elections, the GOP wants to show what it will do to reform the nation’s health care system, not simply what it opposes.

GOP Rep. John Kline to host campaign event with Tea Party activist Allen West

Posted by: Corey Mitchell Updated: February 18, 2014 - 8:41 AM

Republican U.S. Rep. John Kline will host a campaign event today with Tea Party activist and former congressman Allen West.

Kline and West will participate in a telephone town hall meeting with residents in Kline’s district, which covers the suburbs and exurbs south of the Twin Cities.

Scheduling the event with West -- a favorite of the GOP’s right wing -- may help boost Kline’s conservative bona fides ahead of his district’s April 5 nominating convention.

For the second consecutive election cycle, Kline faces a challenge from the right from David Gerson of South St. Paul. Kline easily defeated him in the 2012 primary, wining 85 percent of the vote.

This time around, Marianne Stebbins – the Minnesota coordinator of Ron Paul's 2012 presidential campaign -- is leading Gerson’s political operation. Stebbins helped Paul capture a majority of the state’s delegates to the 2012 Republican National Convention.

Because he’s a Republican in a district that President Obama won in 2012, Kline is also facing considerable pressure from the left – and partnering with West will do little to dissuade Democratic efforts to link him with the Tea Party.

Washington, D.C.-based Americans United for Change is trying to tie Kline, and other swing-district Republicans, to the conservative movement with “Tea Stained,” a legislative scorecard that ranks lawmakers by votes the group sees as aligned with Tea Party values.

Kline and West have worked together before. In the days leading up to West’s 2010 election, Kline helped host a high-dollar Capitol Hill fundraiser for him, with ticket prices ranging from $500 to $5,000. West served one term in Congress before losing his 2012 re-election bid.

GOP U.S. Senate candidate fundraising numbers arrive

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: February 10, 2014 - 5:01 PM

Newly available campaign finance reports highlight the fundraising disparity in Minnesota's U.S. Senate race.

According to documents on the Federal Election Commission's website on Monday, Republican candidate Julianne Ortman raised $234,000 so far for her bid to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken and Republican candidate Jim Abeler raised $87,000.

Franken has raised more than $12.4 million for his re-election campaign and had nearly $5 million cash on hand. Republican candidate Mike McFadden raised $2.2 million and had $1.7 million left in the bank at the start of the year. Republican candidate Chris Dahlberg raised far less.

Franken, McFadden and Dahlberg released the summary information from their reports by January 31, back when reports were due to be filed federally.

At that time, neither Ortman or Abeler released details of their fundraising reports. Because Senate candidates do not file their reports electronically, it takes a while for them to be uploaded to the FEC website. Ortman said last week that she had "nearly a quarter of a million dollars in 2013."

House candidates file their reports electronically so their fundraising information is available online when the reports are filed.

See all the fundraising information released by Minnesota's federal candidates for office below.

(scroll to see the numbers)

Rep. Kline's personal birthday greeting to President Reagan

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: February 6, 2014 - 4:16 PM

Republicans across the country took note in various ways of what would have been President Reagan’s 103 birthday on Thursday but one greeting in particular caught our interest.

"Thinking about my friend, President Reagan, who would be 103 today. Happy bday, Mr. President. Our nation misses you," U.S. Rep. John Kline, a Republican from Minnesota's Second district, tweeted.

Along with the tweet, he sent out a photo of himself with the former president:

According to Kline, through his office, the photo was taken in the White House on January 1981 on Reagan's inauguration day. Kline at the time, as Marine Major Kline and charged with carrying the "nuclear football."

Also pictured: Vice President George W. Bush and, with her back to the camera, First Lady Nancy Reagan.

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