Has the new state flag come to DC?

By Sydney Kashiwagi

Good morning, and welcome to another edition of DC dish. I'm sure you've all heard by now that Minnesota has a new state flag, an issue that's generated a lot of interest over the last year. A reader reached out to me on Monday and gave me the idea to see if the Minnesota delegation are flying the new flag outside of their DC offices, which I was curious to know, too. So I got in a bunch of steps crisscrossing the U.S. Capitol Monday, going from the Dirksen Senate offices to just about all of the Minnesota House members' offices in Longworth, Rayburn and Cannon to find out.

It was a recess day for both the House and Senate, so some members may not have come back to town yet to put up the new flag. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith both had their flags up in DC, along with Rep. Dean Phillips. Rep. Ilhan Omar's office told me they've received the flag and plan to hang it up once it gets back from getting ironed, but the congresswoman has it up in her district office. Reps. Betty McCollum and Angie Craig's offices both said they've ordered the new flags and are waiting for them to arrive. Several Republican members of the delegation, Reps. Tom Emmer, Pete Stauberand Michelle Fischbach, who did not have the new flag up on Monday, posted pictures of the old flag on X to mark Statehood Day, the same day the new flag went up. Emmer wrote on X next to a picture of the old flag: "This flag isn't going anywhere."

Some Republican state lawmakers tried to put the new state flag on the ballot, frustrated over the redesign process. Top Republicans in the state had argued that the DFL was attempting to erase history by trying to create a new one.

POLICE WEEK: It's National Police Week and the House plans to consider a package of law enforcement-focused bills. The Police Week package of legislation includes a bill titled the "Detain and Deport Illegal Aliens Who Assault Cops Act." Another would condemn the border crisis under Biden and highlight the "tremendous burdens law enforcement officers face as a result."

And a resolution from Stauber, a former police officer, would condemn violence against cops and recognize their work.

Emmer marked National Police Week by lighting up his office at the U.S. Capitol in blue. He has also invited CD6 officers to the Capitol this week and will host a Pizza for Police event on Thursday for Capitol Police, members and law enforcement.

Craig released a video on X honoring law enforcement and the families of Burnsville police officers Paul Elmstrand, Matthew Ruge and paramedic Adam Finseth, who were shot and killed while responding to a domestic dispute in the Dakota County city.

ISRAEL: House Republicans are leading an effort to put pressure on the Biden administration to continue sending defense weapons to Israel after President Joe Biden said last week that he wouldn't supply offensive weapons to the US ally that it could use in an attack on the city of Rafah.

The House is expected to vote on the Israel Security Assistance Support Act this week. The bill condemns Biden's decision and urges the administration to expedite the delivery of those weapons. It would also withhold funds to the Secretary of Defense, Secretary of State and National Security Council until the weapons are delivered.

GOP Reps. Emmer and Fischbach have both hit the Biden administration for halting the supply of those weapons, while Democrats Omar and Smith have stood behind Biden's decision.

FAA: The House is expected to vote this week on its version of a bill to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration following the Senate's passage of the $105 billion bill last week that would reauthorize the FAA through fiscal year 2028. You can read more about the Senate bill here.

Klobuchar co-sponsored several amendments that made it into the Senate bill, including one that would address the shortage of air traffic controllers and another that would increase resources to recruit and train pilots, aviation manufacturing workers and mechanics.

"Americans deserve to have air travel that is safe, dependable, and efficient," Klobuchar said in a statement. "I secured several provisions in the FAA Reauthorization to improve aviation by boosting workforce training, modernizing technology, strengthening consumer protection, and updating safety standards. This legislation will ensure our transportation system is on the cutting edge."

CHIPS: Klobuchar, Smith, McCollum, Gov. Tim Walz, Bloomington Mayor Tim Busse and White House officials descended on Bloomington Monday to mark the announcement of $120 million in federal CHIPS funding for the Polar Semiconductor, my colleague Burl Gilyard reported.

Biden signed the CHIPS Act in 2022, calling for nearly $53 billion of investments in the U.S. semiconductor industry to strengthen domestic manufacturing and supply chains. The automotive, aerospace, defense and health care industries all use Polar semiconductors and the Polar deal marks the first investment from the program in Minnesota.

UBER: The ride-hailing bill moved through another committee hearing Monday and my colleague Josie Albertson-Grove was watching.

Before the bill cleared the Senate Finance committee on a party-line vote, Sen. Zaynab Mohamed, DFL-Minneapolis, asked a pointed question about Uber's own finances: could the company make a profit operating with the pay rates in the current bill of $1.27 per mile and 49 cents per minute?

Uber's Minnesota lobbyist Joel Carlson challenged the question, saying Uber has already said it will simply leave Minnesota should the rates be raised. "They have tried this at a rate they knew was unaffordable in Seattle," Carlson said.

Seattle's per-minute and per-mile rates are higher than the proposed Minnesota rates, as is median income, Carlson said, but the number of Uber and Lyft rides are far lower today than they were before the pandemic — which he blamed on higher fares. Carlson did not bring up the case of New York, where rates are also higher than the Minnesota proposal, but where rides have nearly rebounded. Mohamed asked again about profit, and Carlson again challenged the premise of the question. Lyft's lobbyist did not speak at the hearing, but the company's representatives have also said they would leave rather than double the fares riders pay. Lyft has also not addressed whether it could still profit if drivers are paid more.

ERA: My colleague Briana Bierschbachhas been following the debate over an expansive version of the Equal Rights Amendment that could ask Minnesota voters in 2026 if they want to enshrine protections for race, sex and gender identity, and abortion in the state's Constitution.

The DFL-led Minnesota House had planned to vote on their version of the amendment Monday, but Republicans pushed off debate on the ERA by spending hours debating other legislation. A vote is now expected during the next floor session on Wednesday, as the Legislature races toward a May 20 deadline to adjourn.

The amendment would likely trigger an expensive statewide campaign similar to abortion-related referendum battles in other states since the U.S. Supreme Court's reversal of Roe v. Wade. It has faced fierce opposition from religious and anti-abortion groups that accused Democrats of shrouding the amendment's intent while leaving out protections based on religious beliefs.

CANNABIS: State officials announced Monday that they have expunged nearly 58,000 misdemeanor cannabis records ahead of schedule, my colleague Ryan Faircloth reports.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) said it's completed the process of expunging misdemeanor cannabis records as required by the state's recreational marijuana law. State officials had previously expected to finish that work by August.

The records are no longer visible to the public in searches of the Minnesota Criminal History System, according to the BCA. The Minnesota Judicial Branch signed off on the expungement of 57,780 records while determining that 213 should not be expunged.


The governor will start his morning meeting with members of the Minnesota Chamber at 10 a.m. He will speak with Katie Farmer, President & CEO of BNSF, at 10:30 a.m. The governor will then speak with Carolyn Smaller, CEO of Bouquets by Carolyn, at 11:30 a.m. In the afternoon, Walz will give remarks at the Paralyzed Veterans of America National Convention at 1:30 p.m. And he will meet with Prairie Island Indian Community leadership at 3 p.m.


Keep us posted at hotdish@startribune.com.

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