Senator Al Franken was recently named chairman of the Energy Subcommittee of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. He plans to use the position to promote renewable energy and energy efficiency. Together with Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat from New Hampshire, Senator Franken urged his colleagues to take the scientific evidence of global climate change seriously and to develop and pass legislation which will slow and reverse it
"In a time when Americans are dealing with record droughts and devastating hurricanes, the Senate cannot afford to simply ignore climate change. We need to talk about it, just as Democratic and Republican leaders outside of Washington are talking about it. And ultimately we have to come together to start addressing climate change before its damage and cost to society get out of control."
Read Senator Franken's full speech.
Over 200 people attended the Jackie Stevenson Dinner May 19 at the UFCW Local 653 Hall & Banquet Center. The dinner was sponsored by the Third Congressional District in remembrance of long time activist Jackie Stevenson as well as Linda Scheid, Senator and Representative for Brooklyn Park and Brooklyn Center, and State DFL Constitution Committee Chair and CD3 Associate Chair Rick Nelson. The following awards were given to people who have continued their outstanding work in the DFL.
The Jackie Stevenson Award
Someone who is the consummate volunteer. Active in lots of activities, comes up with ideas, involves and engages others. Always there. Always willing.
Jackie's daughter Leslee Tejada (center) and former DFL State Chair Rick Stafford (right) presented the award to Georgiana Ruzich, longtime Chair of Congressional District 3, tireless supporter of DFL Candidates, and DFL Senior Caucus Board Member. Georgiana commented, “The inspiration Jackie gave me and so many others to fight the good fight and never give up goes a long way. I was just lucky enough to walk in her shadow for a while."
The Linda Scheid Award
A local legislator who works hard for all of us. Leads on issues, speaks out on policy discussions and listens to constituents.
Barb Benson received the award for Representative John Benson from DFL State Chair Ken Marten. Barb Benson noted, “John says we can still feel Jackie in our lives. She understood that the secret in success in politics is that science of addition not subtraction; everyone has a place and need to contribute their talents. The promise of what America means will not be real unless we keep up the fight for all people.”
The Rick Nelson Award
Someone who makes the trains run on time. Not the face of the party nor the lead of an activity but the one behind the scenes who works hard for all of us.
Mike Rothman, MN Commerce Commissioner, longtime Chair of the DFL Constitution Committee, State DFL Finance Chair, and Chair of many DFL State Conventions, received the award from Kathy Nelson. Mike stated, “Rick Nelson was one of my dearest friends and mentors. I remember watching Rick and John French run a state convention and thinking, ‘wow, I hope I can do that someday.' "
Congratulations to the award winners whose longtime service to the DFL is much appreciated by everyone.
Statement by DFL State Chairman Ken Martin
This legislative session, Gov. Mark Dayton and DFL legislators kept their promises and gave Minnesota a two-year balanced budget that invests in the middle class.
The DFL said ‘no more’ to the gimmicks and shifts used for the past 10 years to balance the budget. The DFL’s honest budget was created in part with a fairer tax system that calls on the wealthiest Minnesotans to pay more in income taxes. Republicans fought hard for the 54,000 Minnesotans with average incomes of $617,000. The DFL closed the gap between the percentage of income the wealthiest Minnesotans pay and what the rest of us have been paying.
The historic investment in all levels of education will pay off for years to come. Getting kids off to a good start with all-day kindergarten, having smaller class sizes in our K-12 schools and helping more students afford a college degree puts both individuals and the state on the path to prosperity.
The DFL accomplished this work with little or no help from Republicans who refused to offer their own ideas on how to balance the state budget and invest in our state, when it came to DFL proposals, most Republicans stood in the way of progress and just said ‘no.’
In 2012, Minnesotans put their trust in Gov. Dayton and a DFL led House and Senate to Build a Better Minnesota. Actions taken during the 2013 session will do just that.
For further discussion of the 2013 legislative session, see
Capitol Report Host Julie Bartkey's interviews of Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, Senate Minority Leader David Hanh, and Professor Larry Jacobs from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs
Steven Dornfeld's near end of session article in MinnPost: "Both DFLers and Republicans will go home happy after session is over" and
Eric Pusey's article in the Twin Cities Daily Planet: "Legislative Progress after a Decade of Regression."
The right to vote is the cornerstone of American democracy and we should be doing everything we can to ensure everyone's voice is heard. We have made a lot of progress strengthening civil rights in our country over the years, but now the Supreme Court is reviewing the Voting Rights Act of 1965—with opponents in the case arguing that some provisions may no longer be necessary. We should not be overturning laws put in place to protect voter rights; we should be strengthening them.
We need to encourage people to vote, not inhibit them. One way to do this is by making voter registration easy and accessible. That is why I introduced a bill this week to allow same-day voter registration nationally, just as we have in Minnesota.
Join EMILY's List and me and send a message that we need to strengthen voter rights and allow same-day registration nationally!
Minnesota has one of the highest voter turnouts in the country. This past election alone, 17% of voters registered on Election Day. Had those people been unable to register at the polls, participation in Minnesota would have dropped 14 points.
The right to vote is what makes our country great, and there is no reason we should be keeping people who are eligible and want to vote from casting their ballot. We should be making it easier.
Click here to show your support for allowing same-day registration nationally, just like we have in Minnesota:
Ed Schultz commented that the election results indicate the American people think the wealthy should pay more. They did not vote to cut into the middle class and the elderly who didn't cause the deficit problems. "I don't buy it." In his interview of Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Sanders said, “I am prepared to work with other progressives to do everything that we can to make sure that the budget is not balanced on a collapsing middle class and on 46 million people who are living in poverty and on many elderly people who are barely keeping their heads above water economically.” Watch the interview and sign Bernie Sanders petition.
Senator Chris Eaton (DFL – Brooklyn Center) and State Representative Will Morgan (DFL – Burnsville) brought their Solar Energy Jobs Act, House File 773 to the state Capitol on February 20. The bill would require Minnesota to generate 10% of its electricity, 5,300 megawatts, from solar power by 2030. Minnesota currently generates only 13 megawatts of solar energy. The bill would create 2,000 new jobs in the first year of the program – and thousands more jobs every year after that according to analysis done through the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Jobs and Economic Development Impact modeling software.
Senator Eaton stated, “We have an opportunity to create thousands of good, family-supporting jobs, reduce carbon pollution and make more of our state’s energy right here at home, We can build our solar capacity, bringing jobs and investment throughout the state, and we can start today."
Lynn Hinkle, Director of Policy Development for the Minnesota Solar Energy Industries Association (MnSEIA) emphasized that “Passing a 10 percent by 2030 standard sends a strong, predictable, and long-term market signal to attract investment in Minnesota’s solar energy industry and accelerate job growth.” Proponents of the bill pointed out that Minnesota currently imports 85% of its energy from outside the state sending some $20 billion out of state every year.
Appearing before the committee, Michael Noble, Executive Director of Fresh Energy, described the ultimate purpose of the Solar Energy Jobs Act as helping Minnesota build an industry for the day when solar energy is “the cheapest form of energy in the world.” Noble said that, according to U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu, solar energy would be cheaper than coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear or any other form of energy within 10 years. He stated that the Department of Energy has a program which aims to lower the cost of solar energy.
The Sierra Club's Northstar Chapter gave kudos to Senator Chris Eaton and Representative Will Morgan for introducing the Solar Energy Jobs Act.
Governor Dayton's 2014-15 budget plan , released in January, includes $93 million in new early learning funding. Last week, Sen. Chuck Weiger introduced Senate File 481 , a bill that would provide $185 million to enable low-income families to choose high-quality early learning programs in their community, an essential step to closing the achievement gap.
The legislative pace will pick up soon. The first deadline for bills to pass committee in their house of origin is March 15. The Achievement Gap Committee presented three forums on early childhood education. The first two forums highlighted the return on investment from early learning funding, the evolution of the Parent Aware quality rating system, and efforts to make early childhood education more culturally responsive, The third forum focused on the political process for future funding. See the videos below.
First Forum: Exploring “Quality” Care - Do early childhood programs for poor kids work? - See the Video
For background on the huge benefits of quality early childhood education for the public, families, and the lifelong development of the children who receive it, see the 30 minute interview with Art Rolnick, U of M Humphrey School Fellow and former Federal Reserve Economist on Real Progress TV.
If you’re reading this email on a smartphone, GPS technology can pinpoint your current location within 10 meters. Someone with that kind of location information doesn’t just know where you live. They know where you go to church and where you drop your kids off at school, the roads you take to work, and the doctors you visit.
So, this is pretty sensitive information. But the companies that collect it don’t protect it the way they should. Many applications that collect location information give that information to third parties without users’ knowledge.
He wants to make sure that, if a company is going to collect information about your location -- and especially if they’re going to share it with a third party -- it gets your permission first.And he definitely wants to stop companies from developing applications that are specifically designed to help abusers stalk their victims. Yes. Those exist.He's working with groups that protect victims of domestic abuse -- as well as people on both sides of the aisle -- on this important effort.Now he needs your help. If we’re going to get this done, Washington needs to hear from you. Will you join his fight to protect location privacy by clicking here?
The U.S. Senate just took a big step toward reducing gun violence and making the country a safer place. This week, the Judiciary Committee voted to send to the Senate floor four different pieces of legislation that:
Require background checks for all gun sales;
Create new federal offenses for gun trafficking;
Ban military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition; and
Strengthen safety at schools.
Listen to Joe Biden's 3 minute comment regarding the Sportsman's ethic at the Whitehall
Neck Sportsman Club's Wild Game Dinner in the Volunteer Fire Hall in Leipsic, DE.
Read about the legal, moral, and statistical arguments for gun control.
Nan Madden, Director of the Minnesota Budget Project, writes that 'what hasn't changed since January are the critical needs for this legislative session:
- The need for a more fair tax system. It’s still true that in Minnesota, as income grows, the share of income paid in taxes falls.
- The need to end the cycle of budget deficits. Minnesota still faces significant gaps between public needs and the resources it takes to meet them, despite improvements in the recent February forecast. The state faces a $627 million deficit in the FY 2014-15 biennium. If we account for inflation, we face a $1.5 billion shortfall in FY 2014-15 and a $1.5 billion shortfall in the next biennium.
- The need to invest in stronger, healthier and more educated communities."
At this halfway point in the session, Madden reviews Governor Dayton's budget. Read her summary of the current budget along with the details on what has changed since the beginning of the session.