Ricardo Lopez | Senior Political Reporter

Welcome to Wednesday, Reformers. 

Tomorrow, Thursday, is the deadline for state reports to the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board, and we have an early number for Gov. Tim Walz’s re-election campaign. (All reports will be made public at 8 a.m. Friday.)

The Walz campaign is expected to announce it raised $1 million in the first quarter and has $4.1 million cash-on-hand. We will also see how GOP challengers, including former state Sen. Scott Jensen of Chaska has fundraised.

Deena Winter reports that Republicans are recruiting election judges, at least in part due to the idea that they’d have had more victories in 2020 had they had more eyes on ballots. Which is…not true. 400,000 votes were hand-tallied after 2020 as part of the routine legal process after every election, and the results were nearly identical.

While quiet at the state Capitol, Tuesday was nonetheless a bit newsy in D.C. 

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that inflation rose 8.5% over the past year, the highest level in decades. The biggest increases were seen in food, housing and gas, so you know, the important things that keep you alive, sheltered and mobile.  

Related: To ease the bite of high gas prices, President Joe Biden has lifted a Clean Air Act rule to temporarily allow the sale of E15 gas this summer. That is gas with an ethanol blend of up to 15%. It is not sold during the summer months to limit pollution. U.S. Rep. Angie Craig had co-authored a letter to Biden asking him to temporarily lift the rule and she is sponsor of legislation to allow its sale year round. 

Our D.C. bureau reports on negotiations in Congress to provide financial assistance to restaurants and other businesses hurt by the pandemic

Sen. Pat Toomey, the ranking Republican member of the U.S. Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, unloaded on Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank President Neel Kashkari for his lobbying efforts on the Page amendment. 

“These political lobbying efforts by you and other Minneapolis Fed officials, which the board of the Minneapolis Fed has shockingly endorsed, are well beyond the Federal Reserve’s mandate, violate Federal Reserve Bank policies, constitute a misuse of Minneapolis Fed resources, and ultimately undermine the Federal Reserve’s independence and credibility,” Toomey wrote in his letter

If you remember, Deena first wrote about Kashkari’s lobbying last summer. Folks who know a thing or two about it raised concerns about using the bank’s resources to support an amendment to the state’s constitution regarding education. 

Kashkari told Deena he did not consider the activities lobbying: “To me lobbying is hiring a lobbyist,” he told her then. “We don’t have lobbyists on staff.”

While lawmakers are on break, I wanted to flag one piece of legislation that has gained some bipartisan support. I wrote a small update on the Senate GOP state government budget bill that would ban private clubs for lobbyists and lawmakers during the session.

We reported it was the Senate Victory Fund, the Senate GOP campaign arm, that first sought the advisory opinion from the state Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board about whether it was legal. Majority Leader Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, said after the story he had no plans to create such a club, and it seems soon it might even be outlawed altogether. Take a read.  

Another effort getting bipartisan support is a plan to allow people to get Minnesota court documents at no cost. The judicial branch planned to charge users $8 per document for court records accessed online. Both judiciary budget bills from the House and Senate contain language to block those fees.

Rilyn Eischens covered a roundtable discussion about Black maternal health. House Democrats are hoping to advance a slate of maternal health bills this year, including proposals to create a universal home-visiting program for families with infants and expanding insurance coverage of postnatal checkups. 

In commentary, Jeff Kolnick, a historian at Southwest Minnesota State University, writes that the concept of the loyal opposition is a key building block of American democracy and self-government. We lose an election, but that doesn’t mean we try to overthrow the government. We offer an alternative for the next election. 

Holler with any feedback: ricardo@minnesotareformer.com


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