Politics with J. Patrick Coolican

Gas tax mailings in dispute; turkey for lunch

Good morning. Conference committees are in full swing, trying to iron differences, often huge differences, between House and Senate bills, including HHS, transpo, education and higher ed. Senate takes up a couple commissioner confirmations that should be controversial. House in session. Full schedule.

At 11:00, Gov. Mark Dayton and Minnesota business leaders will hold a news conference in the Governor’s Press Briefing Room to announce the state’s bid to bring the College Football Playoff National Championship to Minnesota (Veterans Service Building, 20 West 12th Street, St. Paul.) I’m in favor as long as the SEC isn’t involved.

At noon, Dayton will attend a turkey burger lunch at the Capitol, hosted by Rep. Dave Baker, Rep. Chris Swedzinski, and the Republican Rural Caucus, to show the world eating turkey is fine despite the flu outbreak. (Capitol Lawn). (To answer yesterday’s question, I’m told the event will be paid for by rural caucus members out of campaign accounts.) You’ll want to add some olive oil to the patties for flavor and tenderness.

In bird flu news, it’s not getting better. Largest Minnesota farm yet, 1.1 million hens, found to be infected, Mike Hughlett reports.

Dems cry foul when Jobs Coalition mailers drop the same day House GOP forces a gas tax vote. Just a coincidence, say House GOP and Jobs Coalition. Meanwhile, budget bills packed with campaign finance legislation Dayton says he’ll veto. Story.

Industrial hemp: It’s not pot.

Senate passes tax bill; House and Senate $2 billion apart if you include transpo provisions in the House bill. Story.

Firefighters were out in force with their helmets and a bagpipe on their anti-flame retardant bill (yes, it’s confusing; they’re for it because they think the chemicals are dangerous and ineffective.) Abby Simons was there.

This is some terrible Truman Capote “In Cold Blood” thing going on here.

More job losses on the Range.

Washington and beyond

Huckabee primer

Times Upshot: Place matters. People in poverty who move can often escape that poverty.

Tesla’s big deal energy storage announcement. Chairman Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, thinks this could be huge for Minnesota.

Crime is down; the public thinks crime is up. Who is to blame? Pop culture? Journalism? An ignorant public? Someone is to blame.

Obama avoided race for years. Now he’s embracing it, given recent racial unrest, Peter Baker reports.

Finally, Rep. Joe Atkins, a moderate Dem, has one of the livelier email newsletters to constituents. Here’s what he thinks a budget deal should look like, unedited:

1) use $527M for tax cuts, including property tax relief and phasing in a Social Security tax exemption; 2) spend $340M more for schools - representing a 2.3% increase plus more for scholarships for early education targeted at those who would benefit most, and add $145M for Minnesota's colleges and universities provided they agree to find the remaining amount necessary within their current existing budgets to continue the tuition freeze two more years; 3) spend $343M of the surplus for transportation, together with bonding for projects with at least 20-year useful lives and a dedicated four-cent per gallon gas tax; 4) fund inflationary adjustments in other agencies; 5) trim spending by $200M by auditing health spending for waste, which has yielded as much as $300M in larger states like Pennsylvania without any reduction in care; and, 6) set aside at least $250M for the state reserve account, to help cushion against future deficits. I would also jettison most of the hundreds of policy provisions which have no business being shoehorned into the state budget.

I’ll quote a Republican in the coming days. Hang in there everyone.

you know where to find me

Tips, complaints, insider stock trading advice to patrick.coolican@startribune.com; follow me on twitter: @jpcoolican