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Minnesota Government Update


November 26, 2008


Franken/Coleman Recount
The very close United States Senate race between incumbent Republican Senator Norm Coleman and DFL challenger Al Franken is still not yet decided. On the day the election results were certified by the Secretary of State, Senator Coleman held a lead of approximately 215 votes triggering an automatic recount under state law. As of November 26, the recount is approximately 80% complete and Coleman's margin of victory has grown to 231 votes, according to an unofficial count by the Star Tribune. The State Canvassing Board is scheduled to meet on December 4 to review ballots challenged during the recount, of which there are now approximately 5,000. Today, the Canvassing Board decided not to consider whether to count rejected absentee ballots, likely triggering litigation on that issue. Should Republicans lose both the Coleman seat and the Senator Saxby Chambliss run-off election, Democrats would then hold enough seats in the Senate to break a filibuster.

State Budget
Governor Tim Pawlenty and state legislative leaders are expecting a gloomy economic forecast when the latest projections for the next biennium are announced on December 4. Governor Pawlenty will be proposing a budget for the 2010-2011 biennium to the Legislature in January. However, current estimates are that the State's projected budget deficit for this period could exceed $4 billion. With a biennial budget of only approximately $55 billion, a deficit of this magnitude will require dramatic budget or tax adjustments. Governor Pawlenty has signaled that he will propose a radical overhaul of state government in response to the budget challenge.

2009 Legislative Session Notes
After the release of the economic forecast in December, the Governor and the Legislature will work on their budget proposals. Session starts January 6, 2008, and the deadline for the Governor's budget recommendations to be released is January 27, 2008. The House DFL Caucus leadership team and Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher (DFL-Minneapolis) will meet the first week of December to continue work on the committee structure for 2009. Nine assistant leaders were recently elected for the House DFL Caucus: Larry Hosch (DFL-St. Joseph), Kate Knuth (DFL-New Brighton), Mike Nelson (DFL-Brooklyn Park), Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park), Steve Simon (DFL-St. Louis Park), Andy Welti (DFL-Plainview), Erin Murphy (DFL-St. Paul), Diane Loeffler (DFL-Minneapolis) and Terry Morrow (DFL-St. Peter).

Midwestern Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord
Under the auspices of the Midwestern Governor's Association, representatives of six Midwestern Governors and one Canadian Premier have been meeting to establish greenhouse gas reduction targets and a multi-sector greenhouse gas cap and trade program. It now appears that representatives of the Governors will be in a position to announce the outline of a cap and trade program when them meet in Chicago on December 9, 2008. The results of the MGA recommendations will be considered by the Legislature in the 2009 legislative session and could form the basis for implementation of a regional cap and trade program.

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.

For more information and to see previous broadcasts, check out the Almanac: At the Capitol Web site at http://tpt.org/aatc/

 
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