Political notes: Depending on gambling a gambleST. PAUL — Little has been discussed about using gambling to help balance the state budget, but that could change in coming weeks as lawmakers look to ways to plug a $1.2 billion immediate deficit and a much longer long-term problem.
By: Don Davis, Worthington Daily Globe
ST. PAUL — Little has been discussed about using gambling to help balance the state budget, but that could change in coming weeks as lawmakers look to ways to plug a $1.2 billion immediate deficit and a much longer long-term problem.
Even if this is not the year, some Capitol insiders say the concept will live next year when the budget looks even worse.
On the 2010 Minnesota legislative session’s first day Thursday, Rep. Al Juhnke, DFL-Willmar, said a coalition of interest groups is looking into adding a casino to a Twin Cities horse racing track and allowing video pull tabs in bars around the state. Proceeds could go to a variety of uses, he said, such as early childhood education, agriculture and stadiums.
Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller, DFL-Minneapolis, said he did not think there are enough votes in either the House or the Senate to pass the concept, which Juhnke said could bring the state at least $875 million a year.
Even if he does not think it will pass, Pogemiller said that he is willing to give the bill a full hearing. “I would be thrilled to see the bill.”
Peterson fears EPA
U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson and other congressmen introduced a bill to prevent the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions.
“I have no confidence that the EPA can regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act without doing serious damage to our economy,” Peterson said. “Americans know we’re way too dependent on foreign oil and fossil fuels in this country, and I’ve worked hard to develop practical solutions to that problem, but Congress should be making these types of decisions, not unelected bureaucrats at the EPA.”
In December, EPA officials said that greenhouse gases are a public health danger and should be regulated under the federal Clean Air Act. Congress has until April to overturn the decision.
“The Clean Air Act was not meant for this,” said Peterson, a western Minnesota Democrat. “It was meant to clean up the air, to get lead out of the air. It was not meant to fight global warming.”
State Rep. Alice Hausman, DFL-St. Paul, tries to work with GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty when deciding what public works projects to fund, but it never seems to go well.
Often, Pawlenty vetoes projects in her district.
Or, as her Senate counterpart, Keith Langseth, DFL-Glyndon, said: “He always whacks the bill, with her district being the main whackee.”
Little Pawlenty talk
Minnesotans have not heard much from Gov. Tim Pawlenty about the just-started legislative session.
His main public comments came on a morning public radio appearance the day before lawmakers began their 2010 session. Reporters stopped him when he was leaving the building after the hour-long show and he answered a few questions.
The Republican governor and apparent presidential hopeful has not met with reporters for a pre-session discussion like he has every other year when he has been in office.
Instead, some reporters have quoted Deputy Chief of Staff Brian McClung, although many reporters say they will interview the governor, who makes the decisions, or nobody.
A few weeks ago, McClung said Pawlenty would meet with reporters, but as the session approached McClung said Pawlenty was too busy working on the budget and other issues to sit down and talk about the session.
Grams backs Emmer
List former U.S. Sen. Rod Grams as a Tom Emmer supporter.
Grams announced his support for the Delano state representative running for governor in the Republican Party.
“With today’s economic situation, it is important for our party to nominate someone with the strength to make the tough choices regarding the state’s budget,” Grams said. “I know the families in greater Minnesota will connect with Tom and his message because he shares our conservative values.”
Minnesota’s precinct caucuses claimed their first victim, former state Sen. Steve Kelley of Hopkins.
Kelley dropped out of the 11-person DFL governor’s race, saying he will support the eventual Democratic candidate.
He finished in a straw poll with about 4 percent of the vote, only ahead of two darkhorse candidates and Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner’s 2 percent.
“Even with your support, and the amazingly hard work of a dedicated and talented campaign team, I have not been as successful as we had hoped when the campaign began,” Kelley wrote to supporters. “As a result, I have decided to withdraw from the race for governor.”
Davis works for Forum Communications Co., which owns the Daily Globe.