Capitol Chatter: Jobs back on politicians’ radarThis year started with Minnesota political leaders emphasizing the need to create jobs, but the state’s deficit problem sidetracked much of that talk. Now, Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican lawmakers appear to be moving back to that discussion.
By: Don Davis, Alexandria Echo Press
ST. PAUL -- This year started with Minnesota political leaders emphasizing the need to create jobs, but the state’s deficit problem sidetracked much of that talk.
Now, Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican lawmakers appear to be moving back to that discussion.
Dayton, for instance, starts a several-week-long emphasis on jobs with a Wednesday Fergus Falls visit. He plans a series of meetings around the state before hosting a jobs summit in St. Paul this fall.
Republican House leaders, meanwhile, announced they plan meetings around the state to discuss reforming Minnesota government, their primary method for helping the economy.
Dayton long has said he will go anywhere to land a new business for the state. In fact, he plans to visit Japan and South Korea to do just that. He also is considering rescheduling a China trade mission he postponed due to the July state government shutdown.
House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, declared war on South Dakota Thursday when, surrounded by other House members, he announced “Reform 2.0,” an effort to improve state government fiscal efficiency. Zellers said South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard has taken to the airwaves to encourage Minnesota businesses to move to his state because it is more business friendly.
“Our state’s economic climate and fiscal future rely on the reforms we are able to make today,” Zellers said.
Current state government, Zellers said, is a “1960s jalopy. ... It’s the same, old chug-a-long engine.”
The GOP says meetings around the state have not been scheduled and officials said they do not know how they will enact a promised effort to gather government-reform opinions at the state fair, which begins Thursday.
U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson was the lone Democrat from the Minnesota congressional delegation not at President Barack Obama’s speech in Cannon Falls.
The western Minnesota congressman said he had a long-standing appointment to meet with state agriculture leaders in Brainerd, which he kept.
He disagrees with Obama on several issues, including a new biofuels plan to power the Navy, but Peterson said he did not avoid the president. “I don’t have a problem being seen with him.”
As to riding on Obama’s fancy new bus, Peterson downplayed that as a draw.
“I’ve ridden in Willie Nelson‘s bus,” Peterson said of the country music star who started Farm Aid, where Peterson has sung.
Peterson said he did not see an invitation from the White House inviting him to Obama’s Cannon Falls town hall meeting.
Going to pot
Obama answered most questions dealt him in his 45-minute Cannon Falls question-and-answer session, but did let one float by.
When asked about why marijuana could not be legalized for use as a medicine, he said: “Well, a lot of states are making decisions about medical marijuana. As a controlled substance, the issue, then, is, is it being prescribed by a doctor as opposed to -- well, I’ll leave it at that.”
The crowd loved the response.
Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, is pushing a proposed constitutional amendment to require three-fifths of lawmakers to approve a tax increase, rather than a simple majority that now is required.
The reason, of course, is to make raising taxes harder.
When a reporter asked him why he does not expand the amendment to require so-called “super majority” votes for raising spending, lower taxes and lowering spending, Drazkowski and other Republicans in the crowd gave a mixed response.
They were very happy with the idea of requiring a super majority to raise spending, but were not thrilled with the rest of the question, about needing more votes to lower spending or taxes.
Obama is expected back in Minnesota on Aug. 30.
The American Legion reports that he tentatively is scheduled to speak to the group’s national convention at the Minneapolis Convention Center. The White House does not confirm events this far in advance.
Also to speak that day are U.S. Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Gov. Mark Dayton. U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, a presidential candidate, is expected to speak at the convention on Sept. 1.
More than 10,000 legion members are expected at the convention.
Americans need to get on the same side, Peterson says.
In an interview about energy policy, Peterson said it is obvious to him why the country is in so much turmoil:
“We are not united in our vision of what to do. It is not just in energy. It is just about in everything. When you are divided, you don’t accomplish anything.”
At a price
The Cannon Inn restaurant got into the swing of things when President Barack Obama visited town.
A sign in front of the establishment proclaimed: “God bless our USA. $3.59.”