February 5, 2010
Precinct caucuses were held Tuesday evening allowing Minnesota's political parties to take the first step toward endorsing candidates for governor. State Rep. Marty Seifert dominated the Republican straw poll with just over 50 percent of votes, and Rep. Tom Emmer following with 39 percent. The remaining five GOP candidates garnered less than 10 percent each. At the DFL caucuses House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak were the top choices with 20 and 22 percent in the straw poll. Next highest was the uncommitted vote at 15 percent. The remaining nine candidates did not break the 10 percent mark. Two DFL candidates have announced they will run in the primary. Former U.S. Senator Mark Dayton said the public should choose the DFL endorsed candidate in the primary election and was not listed on the DFL straw ballot. Former House DFL Leader Matt Entenza will also run in the primary. Former DFL State Senator Steve Kelly withdrew from the race after a poor showing in the straw poll. Other business at the caucus included discussion of the party platform, election of delegates to district and county conventions and from there on to the state conventions in April.
Legislative Session Begins
State lawmakers convened Thursday to face the daunting task of creating jobs for the large number of unemployed Minnesotans, and addressing the state's $1.2 billion budget shortage. As session opened, DFLers proposed a $1 billion bonding bill, much larger than the $685 million bill Governor Pawlenty introduced last month, with the aim of passing it in both the House and the Senate by the middle of the month.
The 2010 legislative session is likely to have additional political undertones as all 201 seats will be on the ballot this November and a handful of members have higher aspirations. Eight legislators are still among the nearly two dozen candidates vying to replace the Governor, including Margaret Anderson Kelliher and Marty Seifert who have announced their retirements. Senator Tarryl Clark, who is running for Congress in the Sixth District, has also announced her retirement. Meanwhile, the Governor remains in the national spotlight and may be considering a run for President. Progress will have to be made because, constitutionally, session must end by May 17.
Other High Profile Issues
An estimated 700 supporters of General Assistance Medical Care, or GAMC, rallied under the Capitol dome on Thursday to advocate for the reinstatement of the program eliminated by Governor Pawlenty in an attempt to balance the budget. The plan currently covers about 35,000 low-income residents, some of whom will be transferred to Minnesota Care. This decision that has not been popular with participants or healthcare providers. Lawmakers and stakeholders have drafted bills to reach a solution before the GAMC program runs out.
Talk of a new stadium for the Vikings is generating a lot of excitement after the team's near trip to the Super Bowl. Governor Pawlenty suggested, in an interview on Wednesday, using the lottery as a way to fund a new stadium without raising taxes.
For up-to-date information about the Minnesota Legislature, tune into Almanac: At the Capitol. This lively and informative program is aired Wednesdays during the legislative session on Twin Cities Public Television at 7:00 PM on Channel 17 and at 10:00 PM on Channel 2.
Almanac: At the Capitol is seen on all public television stations throughout Minnesota and in Fargo. Winthrop & Weinstine is the exclusive law-firm partner and a sponsor of the program.
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