Sources deep in both chambers of the Minnesota legislature have contacted Bluestem Prairie to share the deep consternation sweeping both bodies as members learned that scheduling conflicts might keep them from attending the Coalition for a Secure Energy Future's annual legislative reception late Wednesday afternoon.
We post the invitation above. Readers may recall our informational post about the known funding sources for the Coalition for a Secure Energy Future, Horse hockey: who's pushing the puck for new Coalition for a Secure Energy Future TV ad?. We noted:
According to the June 5, 2014 Lignite Research Council Agenda of the North Dakota Industrial Commission Lignite Research, Development and Marketing Program, CSEF is funded by a grant from the commission:
Re-Submission of Regional Lignite Public Affairs Plan (Coalition for a Secure Energy Future) Submitted by: Lignite Energy Council; Request for: $600,000 annually for a total of $1,200,000; Project Duration: 2 Years.
While the discussion of the plan was closed meeting, page 35 of the minutes (pdf) of the July 1, 2014 meeting of the North Dakota Development Commission reveal:
During the closed session, it had been moved and seconded that the Industrial Commission accepts the Lignite Research Council recommendation to fund the grant application “Regional Lignite Public Affairs Plan (Coalition for a Secure Energy Future)” and to authorize Karlene Fine, Industrial Commission Executive Director, to execute an agreement with the Lignite Energy Council to provide a total of Industrial Commission Lignite Research Program funding in an amount not to exceed $1,200,000 (marketing) with annual updates presented to the Commission . On a roll call vote, Governor Dalrymple, Attorney General Stenehjem and Commissioner Goehring voted aye. The motion carried unanimously.
The item appears in the Lignite Research, Development and Marketing Program portion of the NDIC minutes.
What can keep state representatives and senators away from this event scheduled by a coal industry group that's so not* lobbying them?
First, we're told the DFL Senate Majority caucus holds a regularly scheduled caucus meeting on Wednesday afternoons that ends at 7:00 p.m. Even with former Majority Leader Roger Moe co-chairing (but so not lobbying for) the Coalition, we doubt they'll trade the privacy of their caucus discussion for free beer and bacon-wrapped cocktail wienies, though if anyone could finagle a side room, it would be Roger.
Next, it's likely that the House Agriculture Policy Committee will be reconvening at 6 p.m., since it's hearing Chairman Anderson's HF582 a bill to limit the ability of neighbors to file nuisance lawsuits against agricultural operations.
While the legislative reception begins at 5:30 p.m., we imagine it would be difficult for the committee members stop in at the location and get back to the committee room by 6:00 p.m., downtown rush hour traffic being what it is. Moreover, in a state that's had a hard time passing a Sunday growler bill, to-go cups for reception beverages are likely to be frowned upon by St. Paul's finest.
Finally, and most importantly, the House and Senate are convening in a rare joint session at 7:00 p.m. to vote for new University of Minnesota Regents--and given the close margin between the DFL and Republicans serving in the House and the Senate, as well as the contested position in the First Congressional District--it's going to be important for everyone to show up for the session.
The Third is also contested, though far less drama was involved. in the deadlocked votes.
Support for the CD1 seat is divided not merely along partisan lines, but also a regional split in the sprawling First. The Worthington Daily Globe urged support for Randy Simonson, CEO of Grasix Animal Health in Worthington, while the Rochester Post Bulletin urges the return of Patricia Simmons, a retired Mayo Clinic pediatrician, to the Board of Regents.
Perhaps Daudt and Bakk could agree to delay that decision, move the votes on the uncontested seats, and give members in both bodies time to trickle up from the downtown restaurant for a vote.
*Update: a number of readers coming to this post missed our earlier exploration of the Coalition for a Secure Energy Future, Horse hockey: who's pushing the puck for new Coalition for a Secure Energy Future TV ad?, in which we explored the question of this group's non-registration as an association with the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board:
The Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Finance Board lobbyist registration for Johnson shows that MREA remains his only client. Likewise co-chairs former state representative Michael Beard and former state state majority leader Roger Moe are registered as lobbyists, though not for CSEF
In a column published in the St. Cloud Times, Moe and Beard wrote:
We will not have a lobbying presence at the Legislature. We simply want to preserve this vital energy source that’s served our communities well for decades.
Not that the two will be leaving their former colleagues in the dark. In a press release announcing their co-chair appointees, Beard said:
“Energy policy isn’t a Republican or Democratic issue. It’s a matter that impacts all hard-working Minnesota families. Senator Moe and I will make sure lawmakers have accurate information to help them make energy policy decisions that protect the best interests of the people of this state.”
What are friends for, after all, other than to educate, but not lobby, a guy?
Meanwhile, Johnson (while director of CSEF but only a lobbyist for MREA) and Luke Hellier, a Senior Account Executive for Public Affairs Company, are giving talks about the mission of CSEF to Rotary Clubs in place like Fairmont and Eagan.
Circling back to North Dakota, the Lignite Energy Council's Membership Directory lists Public Affairs Company as among its contractor/supplier members. Winthrop and Weinstine's John Knapp is listed as well. The membership list for the entire group is here.
To learn more check out the earlier post. [end update]
Images: The invitation that Public Affairs Company's Luke Hellier emailed to all Minnesota legislators (above); the Patio Room at McGovern's (below).
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