Minnesota Senate

Menu

Print

RSS

Twitter

Twitter

YouTube

Facebook

Email

Senate Media Services

LIVE Coverage

Featured Videos


Ending Elder Abuse, Reforming State Telecommunting Policy

A recent Star Tribune series detailing allegations of abuse, neglect, theft and unexplained injuries at state-licensed senior care facilities prompted Republican lawmakers to renew calls for change at the Minnesota Department of Health. As chair of the Senate Committee on Aging and Long-term Care Policy, Senator Karin Housley, R-St. Marys Point, joins Capitol Report moderator Shannon Loehrke to talk about her efforts to better protect the elderly and vulnerable.

At a press conference this week, Democratic Governor Mark Dayton announced his selection of Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith to fill the U.S. Senate seat of departing Senator Al Franken. According to the Minnesota Constitution, the move sets in motion the ascendance of Senate President Michelle Fischbach, a Republican from Paynesville, to the role of Lieutenant Governor. Senator Fischbach declared her intention of doing both jobs at a State Capitol press conference.

Last month, Fox9 featured a report about a Minnesota DNR employee who telecommutes from Northern California to conduct his work managing shore land. Senator Mark Koran, R-North Branch, believes the story demonstrated an abuse of current telework policy. He joins Shannon to offer his perspective on potential reforms for telecommuting state workers.



Serving as Senate President and Lieutenant Governor

Senate President Michelle Fischbach, R-Paynesville, addressed the media Wednesday, December 13, saying she will maintain her role as Senate President when assuming the role of Lieutenant Governor. Governor Mark Dayton selected current Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith to fill the U.S. Senate seat being vacated through the resignation of U.S. Senator Al Franken. Minnesota's Constitution states that the last elected presiding officer of the Senate "shall become" the lieutenant governor when the office is officially vacated.

"As prescribed by law, I will continue to serve in both of those roles," Fischbach said. She further explained that the Lieutenant Governor does not have any executive powers prescribed by the state constitution, thus avoiding any conflict to the separation of powers that the constitution establishes. "The only powers that the lieutenant governor would have would be delegated by the governor," she said.

Fischbach is scheduled to have lunch with Governor Mark Dayton on Friday, December 15, when they will discuss the lieutenant governor role. Earlier in the day, Dayton said he is looking forward to working with the Senator, while acknowledging that they come from different political parties with different views.

Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk released a statement saying that the Minnesota Constitution prohibits a senator from serving both in the Minnesota Senate and as Lieutenant Governor, thus a special election would be held. With one Minnesota Senate seat open due to the resignation of Senator Dan Schoen, DFL-Cottage Grove, a second open seat would put the control of the Senate "up for grabs," Bakk stated.



Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith Chosen for U.S. Senate Seat

Governor Mark Dayton announced his selection of Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith to fill the U.S. Senate seat when vacated due to the resignation of Senator Al Franken. Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith and Governor Dayton spoke to a large media crowd in a State Capitol hearing room Wednesday, December 13.

"I accept this appointment and it will be my great honor to serve Minnesota as United States Senator," Smith said. "Now my job will be to go to Washington D.C. to continue working on behalf of Minnesota and our country, and I will do this in my own way, using my own best judgment and experience, but always with the people of Minnesota in mind. And, it is up for Minnesotans to decide for themselves who they want to complete Senator Franken's term."

Smith said she intends to seek reelection to the U.S. Senate seat in November, when a special election will be held for the remainder of Senator Al Franken's term, which ends in January of 2021.



Ending Abuse in Senior Care Facilities

Senator Karin Housley, R-St. Marys Point, chair of the Senate Aging and Long-Term Care Policy Committee, along with Senator Michelle Benson, R-Ham Lake, and Senator Carrie Ruud, R-Breezy Point, called a press conference Tuesday, December 12, to press the Dayton administration for a quicker response to the ongoing problem of theft, neglect and abuse in state-licensed senior care facilities.

Senator Housley reported receiving information from the former Director of Health Regulations Division at the Minnesota Department of Health alleging "a toxic culture of bullying, intimidation, harassment and disregard for outside input" as a contributing factor in the high rate of staff turnover in the Office of Health Facility Complaints (OHFC). The lawmakers called on Governor Dayton to address the work environment at the Health Department, provide public meetings of the administration's newly formed elder-abuse work group and outline potential legislative fixes for consideration in the 2018 legislative session.



Capitol Report: Understanding the Latest Budget Forecast

Minnesota Management and Budget released the latest state budget and economic forecast Tuesday, December 5, which projected a deficit of $188 million dollars in the current biennium, which ends June 30, 2019. The deficit is expected to grow to $586 million dollars the following two years. The budget news brought different views from GOP and DFL legislative leaders, with GOP lawmakers citing healthy economic statistics that demonstrate a growing economy, while DFL lawmakers reiterated their concerns over past tax reductions with current spending targets.

On this week's program, Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Myron Frans joins moderator Shannon Loehrke to explain the latest budget news and highlight federal action that could impact the state's economy. Also, Senate Finance Chair Julie Rosen, R-Vernon Center, explains why she remains optimistic about Minnesota's economy and its impact on the state budget.



Legislative Leaders Respond to Budget Shortfall News

Minnesota Management and Budget released the latest state budget and economic forecast Tuesday, December 5, which projected a deficit of $188 million dollars in the current biennium, which ends June 30, 2019. The deficit is expected to grow to $586 million dollars the following two years. The budget news brought different views from GOP and DFL legislative leaders, with GOP lawmakers citing healthy economic statistics that demonstrate a growing economy, while DFL lawmakers reiterated their concerns over past tax reductions with current spending targets.

Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk addressed the media, saying he urged Governor Mark Dayton not to sign the 2017 tax relief bill because it wasn't sustainable. He also explained that the projected $188 million dollar deficit does not include the legislative branch appropriation, which would raise the deficit to over $300 million dollars. Former Finance Chair Dick Cohen, DFL-St. Paul, said, "Despite the disappointment when you look at the number for this biennium, when you look at the next biennium, and keep in mind that the budget that was passed this year was built on significant parts of one-time money, ...will only exacerbate where things are next time around."

Republic legislative leaders presented a more optimistic view of the economic forecast. "As I looked at this budget forecast, it felt as if it was obsolete on arrival," said Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka. He cited several reasons for his believe that the next scheduled economic forecast in February would present better numbers: "Our economy is booming. Unemployment is at near record lows. Job growth is way up. Consumer optimism is way up. GDP, the last two quarters, two in a row, is well over three percent...good news, good news, good news. The only bad news I have is that the forecast seems to project the worst when I believe in a much better picture."

To view the entire state budget and economic forecast announcement, select the Press Conferences tab on the left.


Minnesota Senate Media Services
The Minnesota Senate provides live and archive coverage of Senate floor sessions, committee hearings, press conferences and special events. Capitol Report, a weekly public affairs program, and civic education videos also are archived. All programming is produced by Senate Media Services. Audio coverage is recorded and reported by Senate Committee staff and Senate Sergeant At Arms office.

Minnesota Senate red diamond image Minnesota Senate Bldg. red diamond image 95 University Avenue W. red diamond image St. Paul, MN 55155