Today’s UpTake: MN Senate Talks Budget and Health Care: House Examines Green Acres

2011 Legislative Session

2011 Legislative SessionToday in the Minnesota Legislature, the Senate is expected to discuss its “Phase One” budget bill at 11 a.m. That body’s Judiciary and Public Safety Committee will also entertain the Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act at 1 p.m. Meanwhile, in the state House, the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee will hear three bills at 10:15 a.m. looking to repeal the 2008 changes to the Green Acres farmland preservation program — a fight led by Rep. Mike LeMieur and other rural Republicans.

The emboldened GOP won a victory yesterday when the Senate voted 50-14 to lift Minnesota’s moratorium on nuclear energy — a bill that Governor Dayton likely will veto. Meanwhile, DFL Sen. Roger Reinert proposed legislation that would open up statewide liquor sales on Sundays. Sixth-six environmental and conservation groups yesterday sent a letter to Governor Dayton telling him, “Don’t Raid Our Legacy.” They’re worried that legislators would tap the state’s Clean Water, Land and Legacy funds to solve the state’s budget crisis. A hot button issue in national politics, Minnesota Republican Congresspeople Michele Bachmann, John Kline and Chip Cravaack have signed onto incendiary legislation that would redefine the definition of rape in order to curtail federal funds for abortion. Incredibly, nine Democrats including Minnesotan Collin Peterson are aboard too.

The day after Charlotte, North Carolina, beat Minneapolis for the right to host the 2012 Democratic National Convention, we spoke to Mayor R.T. Rybak yesterday afternoon — about the DNC and other conventions that Minneapolis hopes to attract, Target Center renovations and the state of the Metrodome, Mark Dayton’s politics, biking in the Twin Cities and Rybak’s top 10 moments as mayor, and the situation in Egypt. Speaking of the situation in Cairo, Minnesotans gathered in St. Paul Tuesday as part of a “Million Man March” for democracy in the land of the Pharaohs. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs addressed White House reporters yesterday about the Obama administration’s response to events in Egypt. We heard nothing from the President yesterday, who nevertheless appeared at the National Prayer Breakfast this morning.

Jacob Wheeler

In addition to shooting videos for The UpTake, Jacob Wheeler is a contributing editor at the progressive political magazine In These Times, publishes the Glen Arbor Sun in his native Michigan, and authored "Between Light and Shadow," a recent book about the Guatemalan adoption industry. Wheeler's stories have appeared in such magazines as the Utne Reader, Earth Island Journal, Rotarian and Teaching Tolerance magazine, and newspapers including the San Francisco Chronicle and Christian Science Monitor. He speaks fluent Spanish, German and Danish.

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