Don Davis, Forum News Service, Published January 30 2011
Minnesota Political Notebook: Bachmann response draws lots of attention
The Minnesota Republican congresswoman often dives into controversy, but her State of the Union response drew the most attention yet.
In the first two days, nearly 200,000 people watched her speech on one of several YouTube videos about her. Others watched on cable television news channels.
While Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan delivered the official GOP rebuttal, a measured speech, Bachmann was more direct and blamed President Barack Obama for creating economic woes.
The next day, Bachmann lost a Minnesota congressional hotdish competition to two Democrats: Sen. Amy Klobuchar (for taconite Tater Tot hotdish) and Rep. Tim Walz (for chicken mushroom wild rice hotdish). But Bachmann took the loss well, and avoided using her busy schedule as an excuse.
“As a mother of five and a foster mom of 23, I have served a lot of hotdish over the years, and variations of every flavor appear on dinner tables all over our state,” Bachmann said. “I’m pleased the Minnesota delegation is coming together at the start of the 112th Congress to join in this friendly competition. Though we may not always agree on legislation, we can all agree we represent the greatest state, with the greatest hotdishes, in the union.”
Bachmann is not talking about a presidential race, although her staff made it clear she is thinking about it. She made a recent visit to her home state of Iowa, where the first presidential caucuses will be held in a year, with 50 to 60 journalists watching her every move.
Debate on permits
The legislative debate about shortening the environmental permitting process that businesses say slows their expansion may not be as inclusive as possible, an open-government advocate says.
An unintended consequence of speeding the permitting process could be “less oversight, accountability and transparency,” Rich Neumeister wrote in his blog.
One provision in bills making their ways through the House and Senate would allow businesses to handle their own environmental studies, unlike current law that requires government to do that. While Democrats do not like that idea because they fear studies will not be fair and thorough, Neumeister worries the public will have less access.
Republicans do not want to fund public works projects this year, in a measure known as a bonding bill, but may “unbond” projects that have not been built.
House Majority Leader Matt Dean, R-Dellwood, said there are millions of dollars’ worth of projects that have been approved but not built. He said Republicans may look at revoking authority to build those projects.
“We have a great deal of bonding that has not been done,” Dean said. “That is a real concern for us.”
However, he would not say if the GOP would consider reallocating money planned for projects not yet built for new projects.
Dean said that heavy snows raise concerns of Minnesota flooding, which may prompt a bonding bill to fund a flood fight.
Renewable goal near
Minnesota electric utilities likely will meet the state’s renewable energy standard, the state Commerce Department reports.
One of the country’s strictest standards, it requires 25 percent of a utility’s electric generation to come from renewable sources like wind and solar power by 2025.
Other than Xcel Energy, utilities must have produced 7 percent of their power from renewable sources by last year. Xcel, which sells half of the state’s electricity, was required to reach 15 percent. The goals apparently were met, although final figures are not available.
Davis works for Forum Communications Co., which owns The Forum. He can be reached at (651) 290-0707 or firstname.lastname@example.org