Monthly Archives: April 2009

Obama On Student Loans: Cutting Out The Middle Man

Video and text from the White House:
On Thursday President Barack Obama said:
 
Now, some of you have probably seen how this proposal was greeted by the special interests. The banks and the lenders who have reaped a windfall from these subsidies have mobilized an army of lobbyists to try to keep things the way they are. They are gearing up for battle. So am I. They will fight for their special interests. I will fight for Stephanie, and other American students and their families. Continue Reading →

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“Duh!”-Rep Holberg (R) On MN High Speed Rail

High speed rail for Minnesota came one step closer to reality on Saturday as the Minnesota House passed the Transportation Finance Bill.  
Several Republicans tried to amend the bill, including Representative Mary Liz Holberg of Lakeville.  At one point she observed she only saw about four people riding the bus in her area.  The 2008 Minnesota Transit Valley Authority ridership was 2,638,883.  Far in excess of four people per bus.  
Rep Holberg then attacked the high speed rail provisions of the bill, arguing that it gave the Department of Transportation Commissioner “God” powers in determining where the rail line would go and local governments would not have a say.  
DFLers pointed out the bill had multiple public hearings built into the process. Continue Reading →

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Obama Calls For Fiscal Discipline

Presidential weekly address video and text from the White House
 
This week the President reiterates a theme that has been a hallmark of his career, namely that “old habits and stale thinking” will simply not help us solve the new and immense problems our country faces. Listing off several specific changes he intends to bring, he describes his guiding principle: “To help build a new foundation for the 21st century, we need to reform our government so that it is more efficient, more transparent, and more creative. That will demand new thinking and a new sense of responsibility for every dollar that is spent.” Continue Reading →

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MN Senate Passes $2.2 Billion Revenue Bill With Big Tax Break For Small Businesses

Friday night the Minnesota Senate approved a proposal to raise income taxes by about $2.2 billion dollars in an effort to help erase the $4.8 billion dollar shortfall.    Most of the increase comes from the higher tax brackets and it allows small business owners to save about 10% on their taxes.  That’s a $306 Million tax break over four years.  On the video clip: Senate Tax Chair Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, and Senator Satveer Chaudhary, DFL-Fridley, argue  in support of the bill’s passage, while Senator Dick Day, R-Owatonna, and Senate Minority Leader David Senjem, R-Rochester, call for its defeat. Continue Reading →

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Remembering The Holocaust With President Obama

Video and text from the White House
The President gave remarks at the Holocaust Days of Remembrance Ceremony at the Capitol.  An excerpt:
 
While the uniqueness of the Holocaust in scope and in method is truly astounding, the Holocaust was driven by many of the same forces that have fueled atrocities throughout history: the scapegoating that leads to hatred and blinds us to our common humanity; the justifications that replace conscience and allow cruelty to spread; the willingness of those who are neither perpetrators nor victims to accept the assigned role of bystander, believing the lie that good people are ever powerless or alone, the fiction that we do not have a choice.  
But while we are here today to bear witness to the human capacity to destroy, we are also here to pay tribute to the human impulse to save. In the moral accounting of the Holocaust, as we reckon with numbers like 6 million, as we recall the horror of numbers etched into arms, we also factor in numbers like these: 7,200 — the number of Danish Jews ferried to safety, many of whom later returned home to find the neighbors who rescued them had also faithfully tended their homes and businesses and belongings while they were gone.  
We remember the number five — the five righteous men and women who join us today from Poland. We are awed by your acts of courage and conscience. Continue Reading →

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Star Trek, Checkers, Chess And The MN Budget

Minnesota House Minority Leader Marty Seifert upset that Republican tax plans are not being voted on in the Minnesota House tries to scare Freshman DFL members with a well-rehearsed story from a Star Trek episode. 
 
We’re not positive which episode the speaker was referring to, but it sounds like one of a dozen on the show.  But please don’t call Representative Seifert a “Trekkie”.  If he was he would have quoted the episode’s name, original air date and the name of the actor who played bit part of the crew member.  
This is from debate on Thursday April 23, 2009 about 8:45pm CT Continue Reading →

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Public TV Funding Threatened In MN House

Minnesota’s legislature used to carry nearly gavel-to-gavel on Twin Cities Public TV (TPT) Channel 17.  TPT’s recent move to carry non-legislative programs instead of live House and Senate coverage on its Minnesota channel has one lawmaker upset.  
Early this morning, just a few minutes before TPT would stop carrying Minnesota House programming and sign off for the night, Representative Matt Dean (R) of Dellwood proposed cutting off TPT’s funding if the station did not carry gavel-to-gavel coverage on House sessions.   The proposal was quickly withdrawn so it could be written better, but may be introduced later today. Continue Reading →

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Late Night Standup Comedy In MN House

Watch out Conan O’Brien, David Letterman and other late night comedians.  The Minnesota House of Representatives is trying to provide you competition.  At 11:30 last night when most Minnesotans have turned off the TV and gone to bed, the House put on its own version of stand-up comedy.  
It all began with a proposal to not pay lawmakers expenses (per diem) during any special session.  The idea being that would be an incentive to finish all the work during the regular session which is scheduled to finish next month.  
Instead of voting down the proposal, Rep Rod Hamilton (R) Mountain Lake moved to amend it to require Twin Cities metro areas legislators to provide housing, food, laundry and entertainment for non-metro area legislators.  
The amendment touched off a round of comedy and eventually led to original proposal being withdrawn.  In other words, the proposal to eliminate special session per diem pay made by  Rep. Joyce Peppin (R) of Rogers was literally laughed off the House floor. Continue Reading →

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Prayers Offered For Rep Wagenius

Representative Jean Wagenius of Minneapolis was injured last night when her car was rear-ended on the interstate highway. She is in the hospital recovering. This morning the Minnesota House paused for a moment to offer prayers for the 12-term DFLer’s recovery. Continue Reading →

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Drinking “The Charter School Kool-Aid”

Representative John Lesch (DFL- St. Paul) tries unsuccessfully to bring additional accountability to Minnesota charter schools noting that several of the schools have been fined or have misspent taxpayer money. Representitive Mark Buesgens (R- Jordan) who is a former charter school board member and Representative Torrey Westrom (R- Elbow Lake) get into a loud debate with Rep. Lesch. Lesch points gives specific examples of why the new regulations are needed and notes that some of the other Representatives have been drinking “the charter school Kool-Aid. Continue Reading →

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MN Senate Says Buckle Up Or Else!

Peace officers may stop drivers who are not wearing their seatbelts, under a bill today approved by the Senate. The provision, included in the omnibus transportation funding bill, would make failure to wear a seatbelt a primary offense. The video clip highlights floor debate on an amendment to remove the provision from the bill. Video from Senate Media Services Continue Reading →

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MN Governor Pawlenty Now On Twitter

Governor Tim Pawlenty announced at a news conference this afternoon that he is now on Twitter, the social micro-message site.  While he is not making personal updates to the site (yet), he is dictating information to someone who is posting. The UpTake’s Mike McIntee found that the Governor’s Twitter page formatting has some obvious problems.
UPDATE 4/23 4:26PM
Gov Pawlenty’s Twitter page is quickly following new people to bring its follow to follwing ratio up significantly.  Of note, the account is now following @mnstories [UpTake's Chief Correspondent Chuck Olsen's video site], @noahkunin [UpTake Senior Political Corresopndent] @tomsheck [MPR political reporter], and @polanimal [Rachel Stassen-Berger, political reporter for the Pioneer Press]. Continue Reading →

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Citizen helps Shape MN Senate Tax Bill

Shaping laws is not only the work of  legislators and lobbyists, but citizens as well. In his testimony before the Senate Tax Committee, Greg Copeland argues for a change to incorporate recently-passed federal income tax exemptions for unemployed workers. The exchange between Copeland and Senate Tax Chair Tom Bakk demonstrates how one person can make an impact. Video from Senate Media Services Continue Reading →

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MN Senate Tax Committee Divided On DFL Revenue Plan

On a divided, party-line vote, the Senate Tax Committee approves the tax bill and sends it to the floor.   The Senate DFL tax plan raises about $2.2 billion dollars through hikes in income tax rates and creates a fourth income tax tier.  The increased taxes would be eliminated in 2014 or if the state economic situation improves.   The video clip highlights the concluding debate on the bill. Video from Senate Media Services Continue Reading →

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Entenza Announces Bid For Governor

Former House Minority Leader Matt Enetenza announced in Worthington this morning that he is seeking the DFL endorsement for Governor.   He joins a crowded field of announced, exploratory and rumored candidates.  This is his video announcement from his website. Continue Reading →

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Saving Money and Votes – Mostly

By Noah Kunin, Senior Political Correspondent4/22/2008St. Paul, MN
Yesterday, several election reform bills started moving through committees in the Minnesota Legislature.  Several were inspired by problems uncovered by the recount and election contest between the former Senator Norm Coleman and Al Franken.  
Most reforms would end up saving the state money or would be cost neutral. However one proposal could cost the state – runoff elections for close races. None of the election reform bills died in committee and move on to the larger Finance committee. Continue Reading →

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Al Franken on Earth Day

Al Franken, in his first public appearance since a 3-judge panel ruled he earned the most votes in the Minnesota Senate election contest, speaks at the Aveda-sponsored Walk for Water Earth Day event in South Minneapolis. Before the walk, the crowd was encouraged to do warmup exercises and Franken entertained with his swinging hips. Filmed and edited by Chuck Olsen for The UpTake. More at http://theuptake.org Continue Reading →

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Reaction To DFL Senate Revenue Plan

Senate Tax Chair Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, meets with the Capitol press corps following the introduction of his $2.2 billion dollar tax revenue plan. Following, Senate Republican leaders react to the bill. The bill, SF 2074,  and summary can be viewed online at www.senate.mn .  
Video from Senate Media Services Continue Reading →

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DFL Ad- “Give it up Norm”

A new video from the DFL pointing out that Norm Coleman once said that if he were behind by a few hundred votes, he would step aside.  
Al Franken leades Norm Coleman by 312 votes in Minnesota’s US Senate Race.  Norm Coleman is appealing the election result to the Minnesota Supreme Court Continue Reading →

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MN House Tax Bill Advances Despite Rep. Rukavina Concerns About Regressive Taxes

Disagreement among senior members of the DFL House Caucus became apparent today as Represenative Tom Rukivina talked about how he lost a lot of sleep last night thinking about the proposed tax bill.  He doesn’t have a problem with the progressive taxes in the bill which include creating a new income tax bracket for Minnesota’s richest citizens.  He is concerned about regressive taxes in the bill that would hit the lower and middle class.  He proposed reducing those regressive taxes by simply adding a 2.5% surcharge to the income tax.   The proposal was defeated 6-23 in the House Tax Committee.  
UPDATE: Rukavina did vote for the final tax bill to get it out of committee (it passed 16-14), but he said he was still troubled by it and may not vote for it on the house floor. Continue Reading →

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Weekend UpTake – April 19th, 2009 – Full Episode

In this episode, Host Jim Norton inteviews John Hoffoss, an Information Security Consultant and judge in the 2009 Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition.  Our roundtable discusses tea bags, taxes, high speed rail and Coleman v Franken with:
 
Matt Sparber: Playwright – Editor, SecretsofTheCity.com/talkChuck Tomlinson: CoHost, Cosmic SlopJoe Bodell: MNprogressiveproject.comJason Barnet: Executive Director, The UpTake
 
To watch just the interivew with John Hoffoss, click here.  
UPDATE – 4/22/09, 1PM CT: To hammer home the importance of the issue of internet security, hackers have not only compromised sections of the US electrical grid, but the Pentagon’s $300 billion Joint Strike Fighter program as well [via Wall Street Journal] Continue Reading →

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