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Hot Dish Politics

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

Obama makes case for new overtime rules in La Crosse

La CROSSE, Wisc. -- After some of the most momentous weeks of his presidency, including court victories on gay marriage and Obamacare and an emotional eulogy for the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, President Barack Obama turned his attention back to an ongoing theme of his presidency: Economic fairness.

“America has always done better economically when we’re all in it together, when everybody gets a fair shot,” he said at a packed fieldhouse at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

Julian Bradley, a local Republican Party activist, dismissed Obama’s remarks as a “very political speech.” 

Obama made his case for his economic policies -- a familiar litany of higher minimun wage, affordable college, paid sick days, child care and infrastructure investment -- but with a new wrinkle. Obama defended his decision to change Labor Department overtime rules so that more salaried workers will be eligible for time-and-a-half pay after 40 hours. 

See photos from the presidential visit.


Minnesota teacher Mark Westpfahl brings lucky students to Obama event

By Marcus E. Howard

Mark Westpfahl, a teacher at St. Paul's Capitol Hill Gifted and Talented Magnet School, wasn't expecting to get a phone call two days ago from the White House. But after seeing Obama in Minnesota in February, a White House aide asked if he wanted to bring three students to hear Obama speak in La Crosse, Wis. The difficult part for the history and social studies teacher? Choosing which students to take.

He selected Calvin Boone, 13, Georgia-Rae Plathe, 11, and Sylvie Chaput, 13, because they are among the "most inquisitive in the school," Westpfahl said.

In February, Westpfahl, his 10-year-old daughter, Grace, and some of his students got to meet the president. Those he brought on Thursday are hoping for the same opportunity and brought questions, just in case.

"I want to ask him, 'Do you think money designated for education could be spent better,'" said Georgia-Rae. Sylvie said she would ask Obama why he thinks the economic recovery has been better in Minnesota than in Wisconsin. 

Calvin, who rushed from his parents' cabin in northern Minnesota to attend, said he would ask whether more White House plans are in store for LGBT people. Whether or not they meet the 44th president, either way, it's "pretty cool," Calvin said. 

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