Last minute endorsements come as DFLers gear up for convention in Duluth
In the day's leading up to this weekend's state DFL Convention in Duluth, gubernatorial candidates are announcing some big endorsements.
Former Vice President Walter Mondale has endorsed Speaker of the House Margaret Anderson Kelliher and will be co-chairman of her campaign. Mondale calls Kelliher is "the strongest, most electable candidate in the race."
Kelliher is one of 11 DFL candidates who will seek the endorsement at the convention.
St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman announced last week he backs Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak "because of his executive experience: he knows how to make the tough choices in tough times." Coleman had considered running for governor himself.
Senjem weighs in on Rochester sales tax renewal
Senate Minority Leader Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, said he is not ready to sign on to a plan to renew the city's sales tax.
DFL Sen. Ann Lynch of Rochester has floated the idea of seeking authorization from the Legislature this session for the city to renew the tax so it doesn't hurt the city's effort to get state money next year for the Mayo Civic Center expansion. Voters would need to approve renewing the tax. Lynch worries that lawmakers might ask why the city is not using its sales tax to fund the expansion. The Rochester sales tax is expected to expire in early 2012.
Rochester has had a sales tax since 1983. It was initially at 1 percent and was used to fund flood-control projects and to build Mayo Civic Center. It was lowered in 1992 to half a percent. Voters have approved renewing the sales tax four times; it generates between $8 million and $9 million a year.
Senjem said he more work needs to be done before a proposal could move ahead. He said one proposal would generate $112 million from the sales tax for several projects.
"I don't believe the citizens of Rochester are ready to take on $112 million of new sales tax collection right now," Senjem said. "From my point of view, this needs a lot more public conversation to find out what people want back home."
Murphy and Norton win national safety award
Sen. Steve Murphy, DFL-Red Wing, and Rep. Kim Norton, DFL-Rochester, recently received an award from the National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration for their efforts to pass a primary seat belt law in Minnesota.
They were among 19 people who received awards at the Lifesavers conference. Lifesavers is an independent group dedicated to reducing transportation-related deaths.
NHTSA praised Murphy and Norton for helping save lives and reducing injuries by supporting the bill.
Local lawmakers' mental health bill become law
A bill to make sure families of college students find out if the student has suffered a medical emergency has been signed into law. Sen. Sharon Erickson Ropes, DFL-Winona, and Assistant House Majority Leader Andy Welti, DFL-Plainview, sponsored the bill. It specifies that information about a student's mental health emergency can be released by colleges and universities.
Kaskubar wins "Volunteer of the Year" award
Olmsted County Republican Party chairman Bruce Kaskubar won the 1st District Republicans' "Volunteer of the Year" award during Saturday's endorsing convention in Mankato. The announcement caught Kaskubar off-guard. He said his co-chair had to tell him to listen to the announcement.
"I am just carrying water like everyone else," Kaskubar said.
Heather J. Carlson covers politics for the Post-Bulletin. Her Political Notebook column runs every Monday with items concerning political issues affecting southeastern Minnesota. She can be reached at email@example.com.