ST. PAUL - Mark Dayton has emerged from his campaign shell.
The 67-year-old governor, preparing to start his final elective term, was at times funny and a couple of times harsh during a recent interview with Forum News Service and St. Paul Pioneer Press reporters. He fulfilled what a Minneapolis editorial writer somewhat jokingly predicted would be “Dayton unbound” (not to be confused with the Dayton Unbound Ministries in Ohio).
At his harshest, Dayton attacked former U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman, whose term overlapped with Dayton’s time in the Senate.
A Coleman-led group, the Minnesota Action Network, ran a television commercial wanting the state to change laws that require inexperienced teachers to be laid off first, retaining ones who have been around for years even if they are not the best teachers.
“Norm should stay in Washington and hang out with his rich friends,” Dayton said. “Even before the session’s starting, running ads about denying some child a good teacher based on their ideological premise, to me is insulting, beneath what should be his dignity.”
Coleman tweeted a link to a blog entry about Dayton’s comments: “Teachers union owns Dayton. Kids deserve better.”
The former Republican senator also sent a tweet emphasizing that he is a Minnesotan: “Some folks like Fl. beaches in Dec. We like frozen lakes, zero degrees and MN sunsets.”
Dayton also went after Minnesota Republicans who want to dump or drastically change the online health insurance exchange MNsure.
“The election is over now,” Dayton said. “Hopefully, they can be constructive in their criticism.”
Dayton has joked about being unbound, but in the interview he admitted that is true, at least to a certain extent.
“I am freer to be candid than I would have been four months ago,” he said about the time during his campaign.
Legislators have openly wondered if Dayton will be less predictable now that he faces no more elections.
Get ready for boredom It may be typical pre-legislative session optimism, but many lawmakers predict that Tuesday will be the beginning of a quiet five months.
“I actually think it is going to be a pretty quiet and pretty boring session,” Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, said.
After two years of all Democratic control in the Capitol, many are predicting that the governor and lawmakers will get along.
Four years ago, when Republicans took over the Legislature and Democrat Mark Dayton became governor, Garofalo said his fellow GOP representatives had the attitude that “we are going to show this Mark Dayton guy.” A government shutdown ensued.
Those in office at the time learned from that, and many lawmakers now go out of their way to predict there will be no shutdown this year.
“Nothing becomes law unless the Democrats agree with it,” Garofalo said, and Republicans know that now. “We all live and learn.”
Ball award to Minnesota
The Guinness Book of World Records has given the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency the honor of owning the biggest paper ball.
The ball was 9-feet, 7-inches tall and 426 pounds. It was on display at the Minnesota State Fair to show how much recyclable paper state residents throw in the garbage every 30 seconds.
Rural broadband help OK’d
Federal high-speed Internet funding for rural communities is going up.
The news that the Federal Communications Commission voted to increase broadband investments was celebrated by U.S. Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar, both Minnesota Democrats.
“Our rural communities cannot compete in the 21st century economy when nearly 30 percent of residents in greater Minnesota don’t have access to high-speed Internet,” Franken said.
“This action will help improve broadband connections in schools and libraries across Minnesota, and I will continue pushing to ensure Minnesotans have access to broadband, regardless of where they live, so families can stay connected and businesses can remain competitive,” Klobuchar added.
The senators said more than 2,000 schools and 350 libraries across Minnesota will benefit from the FCC action.
Women vet license plates on sale Motor vehicle license plates for women veterans went on sale Friday.
According to the bill’s author, State Sen. Alice Johnson, D-Spring Lake Park, the specialty license plate will go a long way toward removing the invisibility that many of Minnesota’s 29,000 women veterans feel. The plates are labeled “woman veteran.”
Davis covers Minnesota government and politics for Forum News Service. Read his blog at http://capitolchat.areavoices.com/ and follow him on Twitter at @CapitolChatter.