Happenings Friday at the Minnesota Capitol:
Minnesota lawmakers listened and laughed as political activist Doris "Granny D" Haddock described her adventures on a 14-month, 3,100-mile trek across America to promote campaign finance reform.
She wants soft money contributions outlawed and politicians who won't move toward campaign finance reform rejected at the polls.
"I traveled as a pilgrim," she said. "I announced that I would walk until I was given shelter and fast until I was given food."
When she hit a patch of snow, she strapped on skis for 85 miles.
The 91-year-old New Hampshire woman walked from Pasadena, Calif., to Washington D.C. from January 1999 to February 2000 to raise awareness for changing campaign finance laws.
Members of a joint House-Senate panel listened intently as she talked about why the change was necessary -- even as she criticized both major political parties for trying to outdo each other in fund raising.
"We must get back to our democracy," she said.
Add another group to the list of those disappointed by Gov. Jesse Ventura's tax plan -- at least the proposed income tax cuts.
"Only one out of every seven dollars in income tax rate relief reaches those with middle incomes or below," said Wayne Cox, executive director of Minnesota Citizens for Tax Justice.
Ventura is proposing cutting each income tax bracket by a half percentage point. The problem with that, Cox said, is that while lower- and middle-income Minnesotans get some relief, wealthy residents get the benefit of all three rate cuts.
He said those with the top one percent in income ended up with more tax relief than 60 percent of Minnesotans with middle or lower incomes combined.
The analysis, however, only takes into account income tax relief. It doesn't consider Ventura's proposals for property and sales tax cuts.
To see more, go to http://www.mnaflcio.org/w--tax.html.
Rep. Andy Dawkins is trying to change the way elections are run in Minnesota.
Among other things, a bill he has introduced would modify judicial elections and require so-called instant run-off elections for other races.
The judicial portion of the proposal would direct voters to simply cast a ballot whether or not to retain a current judge. If a majority voted not to keep the judge, then the governor would appoint a new judge to fill the spot.
Currently, governors fill open judgeships, then voters elect that judge or another in the next election.
Another portion of the bill would require that Minnesota use instant run-off elections, which allow the voter to mark a first and second choice.
That would allow people to vote their conscience as their first choice and one of the major party candidates as a backup, Dawkins said.
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