Good morning!

In Minnesota

Months after rural voters helped Republicans reclaim the majority in the Minnesota House, lawmakers in both parties are looking to weaken environmental laws tied to agriculture. (MPR News)

As Minnesota lawmakers debate major transportation funding this spring, support for roads and bridges is nearly unanimous. Mass transit isn’t nearly as lucky. (Pioneer Press)

There’s a big fight in the legislature over the state’s rules around landline telephones. (MinnPost)

Even after lawmakers stopped hefty raises for members of Gov. Mark Dayton’s cabinet, the chairman of the Metropolitan Council’s salary still doubled to nearly $123,000, according to state salary documents. (AP via MPR News)

The U.S. Department of Education has granted Minnesota a new four-year waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind law. (MPR News)

Two words I never thought I’d see side by side: innovative paving. (Pioneer Press)

National Politics

The national debate over an Indiana religious-liberties law seen as anti-gay has drawn the entire field of Republican presidential contenders into the divisive culture wars, which badly damaged Mitt Romney in 2012 and which GOP leaders eagerly sought to avoid in the 2016 race. (Washington Post)

Despite intensifying criticism from business leaders both within and outside of Arkansas, the state legislature passed its version of a measure billed as a religious freedom law, joining Indiana in a swirl of controversy that shows little sign of calming. (New York Times)

Nuclear talks between world powers and Iran resumed Wednesday, after being extended past Tuesday’s deadline. (USA Today)

The Obama administration formally pledged Tuesday that the U.S. will cut its greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 28 percent over the next decade — the opening salvo in an eight-month sprint toward reaching an international climate change deal. (Politico)

Good morning!

In Minnesota

A new taconite plant is under construction on the Iron Range that benefits from public subsidies. But some state lawmakers are unhappy the company isn’t building the steel plant it also promised. (MPR News)

The lack of paid sick leave in Minnesota workplaces has contributed to contagious disease outbreaks and added to employers’ health care expenses, according to a report issued earlier this month from the state’s Department of Health. (WCCO)

A “global agreement” cut between insurance companies and smartphone-based ride-sharing services like Uber extends to a compromise in Minnesota with legislation that would increase the company’s mandated commercial insurance coverage without jeopardizing their presence in Minnesota. (Star Tribune)

National Politics

Indiana’s legislative leaders joined Gov. Mike Pence in saying that they planned to amend a new religious freedom law to make clear that it did not allow discrimination against gays and lesbians, while still insisting that the law did not do so in its current form. (New York Times)

Not so long ago, an “exploratory” committee was the usual first step in a presidential campaign. But that’s changed since the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling. Now, some candidates aren’t declaring their candidacy, and thus not being constrained by federal limits and can coax billionaires into writing huge checks. (NPR)

True tales from the battlefront: reporters say it’s getting more and more difficult to cover government agencies because officials want “message control.” (Washington Post)

At the intersection of comedy and politics, the Daily Show’s new host is a 31 year old South African. (The Guardian)

Good morning!

In Minnesota

When Minnesota lawmakers return to the Capitol next week, they will be thinking about taxes. It won’t be easy. House Republicans want $2 billion in tax cuts. But Gov. Mark Dayton and Senate Democrats want far less, and they’re warning that a too hefty give-back could set the stage for future deficits. (MPR News)

The extensive renovation of the Minnesota Capitol is $30 million over budget, state officials revealed. (MPR News)

Democrats in the Minnesota Senate released a budget outline that would spend nearly $43 billion over the next two years and provide more than $200 million in tax cuts. (MPR News)

A Pioneer Press analysis of registered lobbyists found that since 2002 alone, at least five dozen legislators have registered to lobby their former colleagues once their election certificates expired. (Pioneer Press)

A dispute over gender pay equity at the agency building the new Vikings stadium has sparked calls for the state to reform the governance of the state’s stadium authority. (MPR News)

More Vikings stadium drama: The leadership structure at the top of the agency overseeing construction of the new stadium has led to duplicative work and blurred lines of accountability, members of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority said in a rare show of conflict on the board. (Pioneer Press)

Gov. Mark Dayton called Friday for cracking down on poachers with tougher criminal penalties and longer revocations of their hunting and fishing privileges, a response to several recent incidents including the illegal killing of two bull elk in northwestern Minnesota. (MPR News)

A new project to promote civility in Minnesota politics gets some gentle mocking from a Strib reporter. (Star Tribune)

National Politics

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) defended the religious freedom bill that he just signed, saying the outrage over the legislation stems from “misinformation and misunderstanding.” Critics say it lets businesses discriminate against gays by citing religious views as a reason to deny them service. (Washington Post)

Just hours after Minority Leader Harry Reid announced he would retire, Sen. Chuck Schumer declared Friday he would run to be Democratic leader — and a source close to the New York Democrat said he has already locked up enough support within the caucus to secure the top job. (Politico)

Senate Republicans bolted for a two-week spring recess with the confirmation of Loretta E. Lynch as attorney general in jeopardy, and themselves in a quandary: Accept a qualified nominee they oppose because she backs President Obama’s policies or reject her and live with an attorney general they despise, Eric H. Holder Jr. (New York Times)

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is firing back at some of the Wall Street banks that reportedly are weighing withholding political contributions to Democrats unless she reins in her rhetoric about large financial institutions. (USA Today)

Amid falling steel prices that have led to the closure of two Iron Range taconite plants, members of Minnesota’s congressional delegation and the Dayton Administration pushed the Obama Administration to act on what they described as illegal trade practices. (MPR News)

…and 2nd District U.S. Rep. John Kline is spending the congressional recess traveling with House Speaker John Boehner and a large delegation of House Republicans. Their first stop was the United Kingdom and they will also visit Israel, among other stops. A spokesman writes the purpose of the trip is “to reinforce the need for strong leadership in the world, including an overarching strategy to defeat the terrorist threat.”