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Political Notebook

Hospital staffing

A compromise plan to study nurse staffing levels in Minnesota hospitals moved forward Thursday.

Hospitals would have to come up with staffing plans and track hours under the proposal.

The bill also would require a state study to find out how well hospital units are staffed.

It's a compromise between nursing organizations and hospital administrators reached from an original plan to set mandatory staffing levels.

The House Health and Human Services Finance Committee approved the bill on a voice vote Thursday. A similar Senate bill also is moving forward.

A purple meeting

Five Democrats and five Republicans met this week in what they call the purple caucus' first meeting.

Sens. Roger Reinert, DFL-Duluth, and Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, formed the purple caucus earlier this month to bring the two sides together.

"It was a success and I am confident that the group's energy will continue growing," Reinert said of the first meeting. "Neither Jeremy nor I did any sort of recruitment for the caucus. We sent a general invite to senators. .... Folks came on their own, and that's a good sign that the purple caucus has legs and isn't just talk."

Another meeting is planned after lawmakers return from next week's Easter-Passover recess.

Dayton shows emotion

Anyone who knows Mark Dayton even a little realizes his attachment to his German shepherd dogs run deep, so it was no surprise that emotion flowed when one died.

"My wonderful dog, Mesabi, died suddenly and unexpectedly this afternoon," the bachelor governor wrote on his Facebook page Thursday night. "He was two months shy of his 11th birthday."

Dayton told about Mesabi being diagnosed with cancer a few days before dying and undergoing surgery.

"I was told that the surgery went fine and that there were no visible signs of the cancer having spread," Dayton wrote.

Mesabi returned to the veterinarian Thursday, and the governor was told "he checked out fine. When he returned to the residence, however, he just lay in the driveway."

The dog was carried upstairs in the governor's official residence and Dayton worked next to him. Mesabi died suddenly an hour later.

"Mesabi was a terrific dog," Dayton said. "Everyone who knew him, adored him. He loved to sit in the front yard and quietly watch people walk by on Summit Avenue."

While saying he is fortunate to still have the younger Wanamingo and Itasca German shepherds, the governor said he will miss Mesabi:

"He was a loyal, devoted friend. He and his sister, Dakota, who passed away two years ago, brought so much joy into my life. As I wrapped him in a blanket, I thought of a line from a long-ago song by Blood, Sweat, and Tears. 'And when I die, when I'm gone, there'll be one child born in this world, to carry on. Carry on.'"

Al and Conan

The invitation was simply signed "Conan," but everyone who received it knew who it was from.

"I'm having my friend Al -- and some of his best supporters -- over for brunch on Sunday, April 7," the email said. "And I've got room for you and a friend."

Late-night television star Conan O'Brien is helping U.S. Sen. Al Franken raise money for his 2014 re-election bid.

"Al's a funny guy, a good friend, and a great senator who always stands up for Minnesota," O'Brien wrote.

People who contribute to Franken's campaign by Sunday are eligible to be in a drawing for dinner with O'Brien.

"So if you've always wanted to eat eggs with me, well, that's kind of a weird lifelong dream," O'Brien wrote, "but this could be your chance to make it come true."

One warning came with the invitation: "Please don't steal any silverware."