Sunday, October 02, 2005

Mark Kennedy should join Jeb Bradley in returning DeLay's monies

Tom Delay may have used a loophole within the letter of law, but it is unquestionable that he disregarded the spirit of the law. The Texas Campaign Finance Law was to minimize the influence of out-of-state contributions by companies.
The influence of outside contributors has been a source of complaint by those who do not receive the contributions -- Minnesotans will recall the complaints that Paul Wellstone received monies from Hollywood.
Mark Kennedy received $10,000 in 2004 from DeLay's PAC Americans For A Republican Majority.
Since his campaign ended with a surplus of $66,218 shouldn't that money be returned to DeLay ?
The Manchester Union Leader reports that Rep. Jeb Bradley (R-NH) will return $15,000 he has received from Tom DeLay's PAC. Other politicians, such as Iowa's Jim Nussle are being encouraged to return their contribution.
The Mankato Free Press Editorial Staff decried the Republican Party for its ethical lapes in the following hyperlink.

What's "Special" about Pawlenty's proposed session

Minnesota Central
Governor Tim Pawlenty has initiated conversations with legislature leaders regarding a Special Session.First off, what makes these legislative matters “Special?” Except for the Vikings stadium in Blaine, weren’t these issues considered in the last session ? In fact, wasn’t a Twins stadium bill approved in 2002 ( Yes, for St. Paul ) ?
The reason generally given is that costs have risen, and may rise even more if legislation is not approved. Valid point … but that was known when the issues were discussed during the regular session.
The calling for a “Special” session should be a result of events that happened since the legislature’s session ended and that require immediate action. The Minnesota Constitution address the circumstances for a "Special" session.
“Special” sessions may call for altering the general rules of enacting a bill ( holding hearings, debating the merits of the legislation, determining costs and benefits, ensuring that the legislation will withstand legal challenge and interpretation. )
Pawlenty and legislative leaders’ efforts are to short-change the constitutional process of “Propose and Enact.” The previous sessions have had ample time to act on these proposals.
What has changed, since the legislative session ended, is an increase in oil prices and Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Congressional Republicans have offered a number of cuts in Medicare as a way to fund the Hurricane Relief bills. Since Medicare is cost-shared between State and Federal Governments, any reduction by the Federal Government will make Minnesota have to reevaluate its Medicare program. Prior to Katrina, Bush proposed $35 billion in Medicare entitlement spending cuts over the next five years. Representative Gil Gutknecht’s website provides an overview to “Operation Offset” which includes the following proposals :
- Increase allowable co-payments under Medicare resulting in a savings of $7.7 billion over ten years.
- Cap the 50% administrative fee paid to the state resulting in a savings of $12.9 billion over ten years.
- Convert acute care and long-term care to block grants resulting in a savings of $225 billion over ten years.
- Plus other proposals related to cost-sharing by increasing amounts paid by the participants.

Whether any of these proposals are enacted is unknown, but the fact that funding for Medicare is being so heavily discussed implies that the Governor and State Legislature must realize the potential that Federal revenues may be affected.
Now, if Pawlenty realized that the increased cost of gasoline/heating oil may have a significant impact on state and local budgets and requested a “Special” session to make changes, that would be different. Should the school year be altered to save on heating bills by extending the Christmas winter break and extended into mid-June ? Should the school week be altered to longer days and only four days a week ? Are there other budget items that should be stalled to provide relief for overspent energy expenses.
Pawlenty has ruled out consideration in this Special Session for a Veto-override for the Gas Tax Increase to fund improved roadways. With the increase in gasoline, doesn’t it make more sense now to improve the roadways rather than seeing cars lined up in traffic jams in the Twin Cities ?

Before the state “spends” its money on Stadiums, it needs to have a firm handle on what revenues will be available.

Special Session of the Minnesota Legislature issues:
- A transportation funding plan using dedicated motor vehicle sales taxes and new federal funds to support a bonding program. Not to include any gas tax, tab tax or other tax increases.
- Authorizing a Maple Grove hospital, which three health groups are vying to build.- Public employee pension issues, including the Minneapolis teachers plan.
- Repeal of the law setting a minimum price for gasoline.
- An on-campus football stadium for the Gophers as proposed by the University of Minnesota.- A Minneapolis stadium for the Twins as proposed by the Twins and Hennepin County, without a public referendum on a 0.15 percent sales tax increase.
- A Twins stadium with a referendum requirement added.
- A Twins stadium proposal that would be voted on only if the Twins-Hennepin County plan fails. It would allow any host community that can pass a referendum to meet the Twins’ needs.
- A Vikings stadium in Blaine as proposed by the Vikings and Anoka County.
- A constitutional amendment to dedicate a percentage of the existing sales tax for conservation programs.
- A constitutional amendment to limit marriage to unions of one man and one woman.