Dayton on the Issues: Money, Marijuana, Health Care

Updated: 12/27/2013 9:33 PM By: Cassie Hart

Image: MGN Online
Image: MGN Online

Governor Mark Dayton is talking about the issues of minimum wage, legalizing marijuana and the health care overhaul.

Minimum Wage

As Minnesota lawmakers debate raising the minimum wage, Gov. Mark Dayton says he prefers tying future increases to inflation.
Dayton told The Associated Press on Friday that it would be "useful" to include an automatic escalator clause. The state has one of the nation's lowest minimum wages at $6.15 per hour, but most people at the bottom qualify for the federal minimum of $7.25.
The Democratic-led House and Senate both passed bills to boost the Minnesota rate but couldn't come to an agreement on how much. Debate is expected to resume in early 2014. Dayton says he's optimistic a bill will pass and be signed.
Dayton says linking future increases to inflation would prevent those earning the minimum wage from losing buying power as years go by.

Medical Marijuana

Gov. Mark Dayton says he has urged supporters of legalizing marijuana for medical purposes in Minnesota to work with opponents in law enforcement if they want progress on the issue.
Dayton repeatedly cites law enforcement concerns for his own opposition to medical marijuana. But in an interview Friday with The Associated Press, the Democratic governor says he'd likely sign a bill to legalize it if sheriffs, prosecutors and other law enforcement groups get behind it.
Dayton says he met several months ago with groups on both sides of the issue and urged them to collaborate on legislation.
Twenty other states and Washington, D.C., allow medical marijuana in some form.  Dayton says if Minnesota's law is to change, he'd prefer it be done by legislators and not in a public referendum.

Healthcare Overhaul

Gov. Mark Dayton says he believes progress has been made on fixing problems with Minnesota's health insurance marketplace but knows challenges remain.
Dayton said in an interview Friday with The Associated Press that he's keeping tabs on MNsure nine days into its new leadership. The Democratic governor has a conference call Friday with new CEO Scott Leitz, and is scheduled to visit MNsure headquarters next week.
Last week, MNsure extended an enrollment deadline for Minnesotans who want coverage starting Jan. 1. They now have until Dec. 31 to sign up.
Dayton says MNsure has reduced a backlog of stalled applications by manually entering several thousand. He says wait times at MNsure's call center are still long but will likely drop as website glitches are resolved.

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