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Capitol Report

Author: Minnesota Senate Media Services

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Join Shannon Loehrke for Capitol Report, a weekly public affairs program featuring Minnesota state policymakers' perspectives on pressing state issues and pending legislation.
128 Episodes
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The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a federal agency, has issued a requirement for health care workers to be fully vaccinated by January 4th of next year.  That requirement has sounded the alarm for nursing home administrators and staff, who are warning policymakers of a potential nursing home workforce crisis.  Senate Human Services Reform Committee Chair Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, and Senator John Hoffman, DFL-Champlin, join moderator Shannon Loehrke to offer their perspectives on the challenges facing Minnesota’s nursing homes.Thirty-two states across the country, including all of Minnesota’s neighbors, have legalized sports betting, according to Representative Zack Stephenson, chair of the House Commerce Committee.  He recently held a news conference to announce his intention to pass a law that would give Minnesotans that same opportunity.  Also in the program, photographs of the Minnesota State Capitol through the seasons.
Minnesota is facing a surge in violent crime, and lawmakers are concerned.  Recently, the Senate held an informational hearing to learn more about its impact on law enforcement and policing.  On this week's Capitol Report, Senate Transportation Chair Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson, and Judiciary and Public Safety Minority Lead Ron Latz, DFL-St. Louis Park, review the hearing and offer their perspectives on addressing violent crime.The Minnesota State Capitol is actually the third public building to manage the state’s business.  Moderator Shannon Loehrke talks with State Capitol Historian Brian Pease about the history of Minnesota's statehouses
Senator Jeremy Miller's recent elevation to Senate Majority Leader left a vacancy in the role of Senate President. At a mid-October meeting, members of the Senate Republican Caucus elected Senator David Osmek, R-Mound, as the next President of the Senate. He joins Capitol Report moderator Shannon Loehrke to talk about his new role.  The Office of the Legislative Auditor was established in 1973 to provide nonpartisan and independent examinations of spending, resources and programs throughout state government.  Jim Nobles has been at the helm of this work as Minnesota’s Legislative Auditor for the past 38 years.  He talks with Shannon about his years of state service, which began with an internship for the Research Department in the House of Representatives in 1972.Also in the program, details about the contrasting legislative proposals resulting from the Frontline Worker Pay Working Group and highlights from a joint meeting of the Senate Judiciary and Transportation committees on the increase in criminal activities in and around the metro area.
The controversy surrounding the residency of Representative John Thompson, I-St. Paul, and the decennial process of redrawing legislative districts prompted the Senate State Government and Elections committee to hold an informational hearing last week.  Senator Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake, chair of the State Government and Elections committee, joins Capitol Report moderator Shannon Loehrke to talk about potential changes to the candidate filing process and the impact of redistricting on lawmakers and citizens.The Supreme Court is poised to hear arguments in a case that challenges Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that guarantees a woman’s right to end a pregnancy.  Many states have recently passed laws to limit access to abortion care, most notably Texas.  In response, DFL members of the Minnesota House and Senate recently announced the formation of a Reproductive Freedom Caucus.  Senator Jennifer McEwen, DFL-Duluth, is a vice-chair of the new caucus and joins  Shannon to talk about the group's goals.Also in the program, highlights from recent press conferences by Republican and DFL members of the Frontline Worker Pay Working Group.  Members remain divided over how to divvy up the $250 million set aside by the legislature to reward workers who continued to work in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.SHOW LESS
Agriculture is a foundational part of Minnesota’s economy, and Minnesota’s farmers are adept at persevering through all kinds of challenges. Lately, the difficulties have mounted, stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic and a brutal season of drought. Governor Tim Walz has proposed a $10 million aid package for farmers and livestock producers. Thom Petersen, the Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture, and Senator Torrey Westrom, R-Elbow Lake, chair of the Senate Agriculture and Rural Development Committee, join Capitol Report moderator Shannon Loehrke to talk about the Governor's aid proposal and to offer their views on water management.Also in the program, highlights from a recent press conference with Senate and House DFL lawmakers announcing the creation of a Reproductive Freedom Caucus.
The Office of the Legislative Auditor was established in 1973 to provide nonpartisan and independent examinations of spending, resources and programs throughout state government.  Jim Nobles has been Minnesota’s Legislative Auditor for the past 38 years and has recently announced his intention to retire.  He joins Capitol Report moderator Shannon Loehrke to reflect on his years of service to the state.Whether looking for the best spot to view the fall colors or preparing for deer hunting season, the Department of Natural Resources has a wealth of information to help Minnesotans get outside and enjoy the great outdoors.  Sarah Strommen, the Commissioner of the DNR, talks with Shannon about the impacts of the summer drought, forest management concerns and opportunities for public engagement.The Minnesota State Capitol was constructed and adorned with more than twenty types of stone from Minnesota and around the world.  State Capitol historian Brian Pease explains the extensive array of stonework in the Capitol.
A younger and more diverse leadership team will guide the Minnesota Senate as Senator Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, assumes the role of Senate Majority Leader and Senator Melisa López Franzen, DFL-Edina, becomes the Senate Minority Leader. Senator Miller is the first person of Jewish faith to serve as Majority Leader, and Senator López Franzen is the first non-Caucasian member to lead a caucus. Capitol Report Moderator Shannon Loehrke talks with the leaders about their new positions, their goals for the Senate and the future priorities of their respective caucuses.Also, Governor Tim Walz establishes a new executive council on economic growth, charged with forwarding recommendations to expand Minnesota's economy. Finally, State Capitol historian Brian Pease provides an overview of Minnesota's historic Supreme Court Chamber.
The Frontline Worker Pay Working Group, comprised of three Senators, three Representatives and three members of Governor Walz’s administration, held meetings throughout the month of August to develop a framework to distribute $250 million dollars in bonus pay to frontline workers. Senator Erin Murphy is a member of the working group, and she joins Shannon Loehrke to offer her perspective.In mid-August, the U.S. Census Bureau released the data necessary for states to begin the work of updating the legislative and congressional district maps in a process called redistricting. Senator Mark Johnson, chair of the Senate Committee on Redistricting, talks with Shannon Loehrke about the process and the significant role of the public in helping shape future representation in Congress and the Legislature.Also, Senate Republicans elect Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, as the future Senate Majority Leader. He talks with the media about his new position. Plus, a look at some of the official gubernatorial portraits that hang in the State Capitol.
The Frontline Worker Pay Working Group’s recommendation for how to distribute the $250 million in financial support for essential workers is due in early September  Senator Karin Housley, co-chair of the special working group, joins Capitol Report moderator Shannon Loehrke to talk more about the panel’s progress in deciding how to allocate the money.The decennial census aims to count every resident in the United States in order to determine congressional and state legislative representation. The information also provides a treasure trove of data that helps demographers understand population trends.  Minnesota’s State Demographer Susan Brower joins Shannon to highlight Minnesota’s changing population. For more than 20 years, Roy Wilkins was the executive secretary of the NAACP, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.  The ‘Spiral for Justice’ memorial on the Minnesota Capitol grounds commemorates his work for racial equality.  Former State Capitol Area Architectural and Planning Board Secretary Paul Mandell explains the memorial and its recent renovation.
On this week's program, a preview of what state fairgoers can expect when visiting the Senate and House booths in the Education Building.  Plus, lawmakers review the newly enacted education and tax bills, and a special COVID-19 panel moves closer to deciding which frontline workers should receive bonus pay.
The Census Bureau has released its 2020 data, which shows some areas in rural Minnesota losing residents while the state’s metro areas are growing. The new data will be used to establish congressional and legislative districts that reflect the population changes, and lawmakers are beginning to hear from the public about their ideas and concerns. At a recent Senate meeting in Bemidji, rural residents urged lawmakers to protect rural representation.Advancing affordable and clean energy and developing a qualified workforce to handle the energy demands of the future are desired outcomes of the major energy appropriations bill. Senator Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, talks with Capitol Report moderator Shannon Loehrke about Minnesota's energy future and new legislative efforts to further the state's goals.For more than 20 years, Roy Wilkins was the executive secretary of the NAACP, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The ‘Spiral for Justice’ memorial on the Minnesota Capitol grounds commemorates his work for racial equality. Retired Capitol Area Architectural and Planning Board secretary Paul Mandell talks about the memorial and its recent renovation.The recently passed $18.8 billion health and human services budget bill that spans the next two years includes measures to improve the lives of Minnesotans with disabilities. Human Services Reform Committee Chair Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, joins Shannon Loehrke to review the various initiatives, which some legislators have described as the best in a generation.
The Frontline Worker Pay Working Group, comprised by a bipartisan, bicameral group of legislators and three agency commissioners, has been meeting biweekly since late July to hear from workers who remained on the frontlines during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. The group is tasked with developing a plan to distribute $250 million in bonus pay. On this week's program, highlights of the many stories from workers confronting the pandemic.To assist veterans facing a personal crisis resulting from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), the legislature passed a measure to provide veterans with an alternative pathway of treatment and rehabilitation for crimes related to post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse. On this program, highlights of the the ceremonial bill signing and an interview with Senate Veterans and Military Affairs Chair Andrew Lang about new efforts to assist Minnesotans who served in the military.The Woman Suffrage Memorial, at the corner of Cedar and Aurora on the Capitol complex, commemorates the efforts of the Minnesota women who tirelessly worked to achieve women’s right to vote. Paul Mandell, formerly of the Capitol Area Architectural and Planning Board, joins moderator Shannon Loehrke to feature the memorial's recent renovation.
Advancing affordable and clean energy and developing a qualified workforce to handle the energy demands of the future are desired outcomes of the major energy appropriations bill.  Senator Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, talks with Capitol Report moderator Shannon Loehrke about Minnesota's energy future and new legislative efforts to further the state's goals.In one of the most hard-fought and controversial budget areas, the legislature ultimately provided $2.64 billion dollars over the next two years to fund the Department of Public Safety, the Department of Corrections and the court system.  Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Chair Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove, reviews the high-profile aspects of the measure.Also in the program, Governor Tim Walz holds a ceremonial bill signing to highlight the importance of the recently-enacted Energy Conservation and Optimization Act of 2021. Plus, DFL lawmakers call for ending the spread of misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccines.
The largest budget increase for Minnesota schools in the past fifteen years easily won the stamp of approval from state lawmakers this summer, as students prepare to head back into the classrooms.  Former Lakeville school board member and current Senate Education Committee member Zach Duckworth explains what administrators, teachers, parents and students should expect this fall.One of the key budget bills enacted every two years finances executive and administrative agencies, funds support services for veterans and ensures election integrity and transparency.   It is a wide-ranging bill that impacts all Minnesotans, and State Government and Elections Committee Chair Mary Kiffmeyer joins Capitol Report moderator Shannon Loehrke to review the latest efforts to tighten Minnesota's election process, assist veterans and improve state services.Also in the program this week, Governor Tim Walz issues an executive order banning conversion therapy, plus a look at the Grand Floor of the Minnesota State Capitol.
Workers and businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic are regrouping as the Minnesota economy comes back to life. The state’s new budget for jobs and economic development invests significant resources to rebuild and recover, and the chair of the committee, Senator Eric Pratt, R-Prior Lake, talks with Capitol Report moderator Shannon Loehrke about the various economic stimulus efforts.The recently passed $18.8 billion health and human services budget bill that spans the next two years includes measures to improve the lives of Minnesotans facing disadvantages. Senate Human Services Reform Committee Chair Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, reviews the various initiatives, which some legislators have described as the best in a generation.Also in the program, ralliers march to the State Capitol in support of President Biden’s American Jobs Plan, which includes investments in home care and community-based services. Plus, a closer look at a prominent State Capitol feature that in 1906 represented marvelous, new technology.
With an influx of significant federal funds, key lawmakers were able to craft a health and human services funding package that some legislators have described as the best in a generation.  Health and Human Services Committee Chair Michelle Benson joins Capitol Report moderator Shannon Loehrke to highlight some of the major initiatives, including efforts to expand telemedicine, support mothers of newborns, contain health care premium costs and improve children's mental health.The tax bill passed by the legislature and signed into law by Governor Tim Walz provides nearly one billion dollars in tax reductions, incentives for job creation and bonuses for frontline workers.  Senate Tax Chair Carla Nelson talks with Shannon about key aspects of the tax bill, which received strong endorsement from Republican and DFL legislators.Also in the program, highlights from the Senate floor debate over the extended special session held to review some of Governor Walz's agency appointments, the timing of the confirmation votes and the sudden resignation of Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Commissioner Laura Bishop.
Lawmakers are steadily reaching agreements in the various budget areas that fund Minnesota’s state government as the July 1 deadline approaches. This week, Senate Transportation Chair Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson, and Senate Housing Chair Rich Draheim, R-Madison Lake, join Capitol Report Moderator Shannon Loehrke to highlight some of the provisions in their respective finance and policy packages.Also in the program, highlights from key lawmakers on measures that have crossed the finish line and the ones left behind.
As lawmakers work to complete the state’s next two year budget before the July 1 deadline, agreements to finalize various areas of the state budget are coming into focus.  On this week's program, Senator Carrie Ruud, R-Breezy Point, chair of the Senate Legacy Committee, joins Capitol Report Moderator Shannon Loehrke  to outline funding priorities that stem from the 2008 Legacy Amendment for outdoor heritage, clean water, parks, trails, arts and cultural heritage.    Senator David Tomassoni, I-Chisolm, highlights several new efforts and funding for higher education programs and institutions. Also in the program, highlights from the Senate leaders' comments to the media on completing the state budget and a look at of one of the many historical Minnesota Capitol spaces open to the public now that the building has reopened.
Several new agriculture policies were recently signed into law by Governor Walz. Senator Torrey Westrom, chair of the Senate Agriculture and Rural Development Finance and Policy Committee, talks with Capitol Report Moderator Shannon Loehrke about changes impacting the cottage food industry, "garage guys" and paramedics that treat injured K9 police dogs.Paul Mandell has spent half of his life working for the Capitol Area Architectural and Planning Board and will be retiring from his role as Executive Secretary at the end of June. He joins Capitol Report Moderator Shannon Loehrke to reflect on his years of public service.Also on program, the DFL pushes for an orderly end to the eviction moratorium and a look back at the 2021 session.
The Energy Conservation and Optimization Act of 2021, also known as the ECO Act, successfully passed the legislature and was signed into law by Governor Tim Walz May 25.  Senator Jason Rarick, R-Pine City, is the author of the bill, and Senator Nick Frentz, DFL-North Mankato, is the DFL caucus chair on clean energy and climate change.  They join Capitol Report moderator Shannon Loehrke to talk about how the new law will improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gases in Minnesota.Also in the program, highlights from a recent meeting of the Housing Working Group on the proposed off-ramp from the eviction moratorium and two Republican-led press conferences.  GOP lawmakers spoke to the press about an end to Governor Walz's use of peacetime emergency powers and about the inclusion of educational savings accounts in the state's next two-year education budget.
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