April 30, 2010
GOP Convention and Gubernatorial Race
Representative Tom Emmer (R-Delano) announced his running mate for the 2010 gubernatorial race prior to the convention this weekend. Emmer selected Annette Meeks as his choice for Lieutenant Governor. Meeks currently serves on the Metropolitan Council and is the President of the Freedom Foundation of Minnesota. She has been active in politics for decades and knows how to work a convention room which will aid Emmer in his efforts to obtain the GOP endorsement. Meeks is a policy wonk with a strong background leading several Conservative non-profit think tanks. She is a media savvy candidate who has made numerous appearances on local television debating a variety of issues.
The GOP convention is at the Minneapolis Convention Center this weekend. First order of business at the convention on Friday is the party's endorsement for the Governor's race. Representative Marty Seifert (R-Marshall) and Representative Emmer are the two candidates in the hunt for the endorsement. Three lesser known candidates will also be nominated but will likely drop out after the first ballot. The endorsement battle received something of a surprise with a last minute endorsement for Emmer from Sarah Palin.
Last weekend, the DFL Party endorsed House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher (DFL-Minneapolis) after five ballots. Kelliher will have strong primary challenges from former Representative Matt Entenza and former U.S. Senator Mark Dayton. Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner dropped out of the race earlier this week. Kelliher has yet to announce a running mate. There is no shortage of speculation on who she will choose.
Continuing Saga on the Health and Human Services Omnibus Bill
The Health and Human Services Omnibus Supplemental Budget Bill was approved by the House Finance Committee Wednesday morning. The bill is on a fast track to get through the necessary committees before the end of session. The bill is expected to cut $154 million in spending in the current biennium. Members of the House Health and Human Services Committee listened to dozens of people testify Tuesday, fighting to save their organizations from further budget cuts. Amendments were considered in the committee until 1:30 a.m. Wednesday morning. Changes to the bill include increasing funding to Children's and Gillette Hospitals and doing away with a one-time reduction to nursing homes. The bill is set to be heard in the House Ways and Means Committee Monday morning. The companion to the bill awaits action in the Senate Health and Human Services Budget Division. Senator Linda Berglin made public a spreadsheet for her version of the Omnibus Health and Human Services Bill, but language was not available at Friday's hearing. Berglin will continue discussion Monday morning.
A significant portion of Minnesota's budget remains undetermined and will likely stay that way until after the Legislature adjourns. Tom Hanson, Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner, told lawmakers on Wednesday that the $408 million in federal Medicaid match funding that the State is expecting won't come before the end of the session. The Legislature is constitutionally required to adjourn by May 17. Hanson expects the federal funding to be approved the following week. Both the Legislature and the Governor have included the anticipated federal funding in their budgets.
Representative Paul Kohls (R-Victoria), member of the Subcommittee on a Balanced Budget, expressed further concern for preparing for the possibility of having an additional $2.7 billion added to the State's deficit. If Governor Pawlenty's unallotments are found to be unconstitutional, "we're going to have a lot of work to do," he said. Representative Lyndon Carlson (DFL-Crystal), said "the forum for that discussion is yet to be determined."
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.
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