On Monday, the governor of Minnesota signed the state's Marriage Equality bill into law. To celebrate, on Tuesday the city of Minneapolis lit up its I-35 bridge in rainbow colors.
One of the most traditionally lefty states in the U.S., Minnesota is home to some of America’s biggest liberal household names, including Hubert H. Humphrey, Walter Mondale, Paul Wellstone, and Al Franken. But more recently, we’ve seen decidedly un-liberal people rising through the political ranks in Minnesota like Michelle Bachman and Tim Pawlenty. Is Minnesota a bellwether of the rest of American liberalism as a whole? Ralph Brauer, native Minnesotan and author of the "Strange Death of Liberal America," offers his thoughts.
A Bluegrass Top 10 hit and critical acclaim are nice – but when you’ve had a stretch of hometown highway named after you? That’s when you know you’ve arrived. Minnesota’s fast-playing bluegrass band Trampled By Turtles join us live in studio with a just-released album called "Stars and Satellites," and to tell us about the newly christened "Trampled By Turtles Trail." (Pilgrims, take note: it’s on I-35 between Minneapolis and Duluth).
A small town in Minnesota is trying to make a big change. The people of Bemidji, Minnesota are building bridges between the white and the Native communities by making the signs in public buildings and many businesses both in Ojibwe and English.
On Tuesday, Colorado and Minnesota will hold their Republican caucuses, either confirming or casting doubt onto Mitt Romney's lead. But why some states hold caucuses instead of primaries — or in the case of Missouri, use both — in order to determine how many delegates they'll send to a party's national convention is largely a matter of taste.
Minnesota's 3rd Congressional District, which encompasses the wealthy suburbs west of Minneapolis, should be competitive. Political strategists have often rated the district a tossup, but Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen has managed to keep the district in Republican hands following the 2008 retirement of moderate Rep. Jim Ramstad, even winning by double digits in 2010.
Despite a courts-driven redistricting plan that could drastically reshape Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District, candidates are lining up to challenge freshman Republican Rep. Chip Cravaack.
Minnesota's state government is poised to re-open after an almost three-week shutdown. Lawmakers agreed late in the night on a budget. It could mean some 22,000 state workers will return to work as soon as Thursday, and ends a political impasse between Democrat Governor Mark Dayton and Republican legislative leaders. So what's in the deal, and how will it affect taxpayers?
It's day twelve of the Minnesota government shutdown, now the longest state government shutdown in U.S. history. On the first of July, after Minnesota's Democratic Governor Mark Dayton and Republican legislative leaders failed to enact a new budget, the state sent home 22,000 state workers and closed 66 state parks. All but the most essential services were put on pause. Even the websites are closed.
State Legislators in Minnesota failed to agree on a budget last week causing massive disruption to services and the closure of many parks, public spaces and July 4th events organized over the holiday weekend. This includes the Minnesota Racing Commission, which governs race tracks in the state – forcing them to close for one of their busiest weekends of the year.
New York has balanced its budget, and California finally shed its reputation as a fiscal laggard, reaching its budget on time for the first time in years. But other states are not on similar paths. In Minnesota, if the Democratic governor and Republican-led legislature cannot agree on a budget by midnight tonight, all nonessential services will shut down, including state parks—dire news, ahead of the July 4 weekend. So why is it taking so long? And what can we learn from states that have already settled their books?
Republicans in Minnesota are buzzing this week, after speculation that Tea Party star and Republican congresswoman from Minnesota, Michele Bachmann may be planning an exploratory committee for a potential 2012 presidential run. This comes just days after former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty announced his own committee. Minnesota’s Republican Party chairman Tony Sutton is calling the potential pool of top tier GOP candidates from in his state, “an embarrassment of the riches.” How might the two candidates fare in a national bid?
—Tim Pawlenty, former Governor of Minnesota, from his book Courage to Stand: An American Story
On Wednesday Minn. Governor-elect Mark Dayton appointed Susan Haigh to replace Peter Bell as chair of the Metropolitan Council, the regional planning board that oversees transit in the Twin Cities.
Bell is the Met Council's longest serving chair, and the Republican appointee has overseen the completion of several major transit projects. He says the Met Council experienced a "golden age" on his watch.
(St Paul, Minn--Tim Pugmire, Dan Olson, MPR) Minnesota Governor-elect Mark Dayton filled a key transportation cabinet post Wednesday with his selection of Susan Haigh as Metropolitan Council chair. Metropolitan Council is the board that runs the Twin Cities transit system.
Haigh is currently CEO of Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, where she said she plans to continue her work. She also served 10 years as a Ramsey County Commissioner and 12 years as a chief deputy county attorney. In a news release, Dayton called Haigh a "proven leader and consensus-builder."
The governor appoints the 17 member Met Council which oversees the work of 3,700 employees and an annual budget of about $780 million.
(St. Paul, Minnesota -- Dan Olson, MPR News) Who says people out here in Flyoverland don't dream big transportation dreams? Remember the contemporary kerfuffle over the bridge to nowhere? Well, here's a circa 1871 vision for a bridge to somewhere -- a rail line from St. Paul to the East Coast, with a bridge to London! Note the heading reads "St. Paul in the year 1900."
It's a map in the Minnesota Historical Society collection in St. Paul. MnHS curator and map wrangler Patrick Coleman says the idea was created by the Tea Partiers of that era. Check with him for more on that.
Rep. James Oberstar (Dem-Minn.) is about to leave the House after serving 17 terms representing the 8th Congressional District of Minnesota. He's spent 15 years as the senior Democrat on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, with two terms as chairman. Oberstar has presided over or participated in some of the biggest highway and transportation bills in recent memory. But his vision for a transformative, nearly $500 billion surface transportation authorization bill was dashed when Congress couldn't agree on how to fund the ambitious bill earlier this year. Transportation Nation Washington Correspondent Todd Zwillich sat down with Oberstar in his Capitol Hill office to talk about the Congress and the future of transportation funding in an age of budget austerity.
"In the stimulus, the $34 billion we were allocated for highway and transit resulted in resurfacing and rebuilding 35,411 lane-miles of highway nationwide. That’s equal to ¾ of the entire state highway program. Yet that represents 4 percent of the state of good repair needs of our national highway system. Four percent!"
Todd Zwillich: Congressman James Oberstar of Minnesota. Thanks for being with us.
Rep. James Oberstar: My privilege and pleasure to be on the program with you.
TZ: I wanted to start with some transportation issues, of course since you have had your tenure as Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. You tried to achieve an ambitious surface transportation bill. It did not come to pass. … left undone, what do you think is the most critical transportation issue facing this country?
JO: A long term authorization for the surface transportation programs of the nation: highway, bridge, transit, highway safety. And the livability issues that have become such a centerpiece for transportation over the past dozen plus years, since the end of the interstate era and the beginning of a new era for transportation. Livability is foremost in people’s minds. Passing a long-term, six year authorization would give stability to the states, to the contractor community, to building trades, labor, to the transit sector, it will result in—if we pass the $450 billion bill—six million construction jobs over the next six years. It will give states the ability to bring our existing portfolio of highway projects up to a state of good repair and go beyond with major rebuild projects such as the Brent-Spence bridge between Ohio and Kentucky, which carries 3 percent of the GDP of the nation. It would allow Oregon to complete its work on a whole stretch of bridges that were sub-standard on Interstate 5 on the West Coast.
"This is the transportation bill of the future that we need. A funding mechanism for it is essential, that’s where it foundered. President Obama said that he could not support an increase in the user fee, the gas tax, which three Republican presidents have supported: Eisenhower, President Reagan, and President George Bush the first."
There are many other instances I can provide of major rebuild projects that are long term, create stability in the construction sector, but add to our GNP and ability to move goods and people more efficiently. This is the transportation bill of the future that we need. A funding mechanism for it is essential, that’s where it foundered. President Obama said that he could not support an increase in the user fee, the gas tax, which three Republican presidents have supported: Eisenhower, President Reagan, and President George Bush the first.
But the reluctance to
After 35 years representing Minnesota constituents in the U.S. House of Representatives, Democratic Rep. Jim Oberstar will empty his office on Capitol Hill at the end of this month. Oberstar currently serves as the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, a position he has held since 2007. He is one of dozens of incumbents voted out of office earlier this year during midterm elections. What are his thoughts on the eve of his departure?
(St. Paul, Minn. — Bob Kelleher, MPR) Rep. Jim Oberstar on Thursday chaired his last meeting of the House Transportation Committee that he's served in some capacity for 46 years.
Illinois Democratic Rep. Daniel Lipinski said he's drawing up legislation to name a new Department of Transportation headquarters building after the outgoing Minnesota Congressman.
Lipinski joined members of the committee with words of praise for Oberstar. Comments were bi-partisan, led by incoming chair and ranking member Rep. John Mica, R-Florida.
"We are truly blessed to be able to serve the people," Lipinski said. "And the people have been blessed to have your service for these years."
Oberstar told committee members his service has been a long, fulfilling and productive journey.
Oberstar commended the significance of the committee's work funding enduring infrastructure like highways and bridges.
"That our body of work, when we leave this place, will be there for our children, that it will be an enduring monument for this country, then we will have achieved our goal of serving the public," Oberstar said.
Committee members from both sides of the aisle gave Oberstar two standing ovations and ongoing praise. Oberstar leaves office after losing his re-election bid to incoming Republican Chip Cravaack.
For audio of Oberstar's final hearing head to our partner, MPR.
Watch this site for a Transportatio Nation interview with Oberstar to be posted soon.