Good morning!

In Minnesota

Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk offered a sharp rebuke of the House Republican budget targets unveiled this week that would offer $2 billion in unspecified tax relief and mostly hold the line on spending. (Star Tribune)

Two environmental funds approved by Minnesota voters could be tapped to pay for schools, roads and other local needs under a plan working its way through the Legislature. (Pioneer Press)

Gov. Dayton’s early education plan has proven surprisingly divisive, even among his allies. (MinnPost)

Minnesota will commemorate the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War next month by ringing bells. (MPR News)

National Politics

The House overwhelmingly approved sweeping changes to the Medicare program in the most significant bipartisan policy legislation to pass through that chamber since Republicans regained a majority in 2011. (New York Times)

The 2016 Republican nomination contest spilled onto the Senate floor, turning a marathon budget debate into a battle over which candidate is prepared to lead the country at a time of war. (Politico)

For years, Drug Enforcement Administration agents posted in Colombia engaged in sex parties involving prostitutes who were supplied by local drug cartels, a Justice Department review found. (USA Today)

Within hours of signing the so-called “Religious Freedom Bill” into law in Indiana, Governor Mike Pence learned that there would be a price to pay for enacting what critics say is a brazenly anti-gay piece of legislation: major companies began boycotting the state.  (Bloomberg News)

As he pulls together his expected presidential campaign in Iowa and New Hampshire, Sen. Rand Paul is confronted by defections from an unexpected quarter: the die-hard idealists whose energy powered his father’s campaigns. (Politico)

Gov. Mark Dayton and members of the Civil War Commemoration Task Force announced plans for a bell-ringing event on April 9. Tim Pugmire | MPR News

Minnesota will commemorate the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War next month by ringing bells.

Gov. Mark Dayton and members of the state’s Civil War Commemoration Task Force held a news conference today to highlight the anniversary, and to join a nationwide effort to mark it by ringing bells.

They’re asking churches, schools and other locations to ring bells at 2:15 p.m. on April 9. That’s the day and time of Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s surrender to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House in Virginia in 1865.

Dayton noted that 600 Minnesota soldiers were killed in Civil War battles, and another 1,800 died from injury and disease.

“Given Minnesota’s prominent role, given the importance of our soldiers and sacrifices they made, it’s very fitting we commemorate with a proclamation and the events that are going to go on on April 9,” Dayton said.

State Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Grove City, said bell ringing is an appropriate way to mark the anniversary.

“They sounded in April of 1865, at least in the north, when the war ended to joyously proclaim the end of this tragic conflict,” Urdahl said. “May they ring again. May they peal again on April 9, 2015, to remember what happened 150 years ago.”

Organizers said they are still working on an official state ceremony for that day, possibly at Fort Snelling.

Good morning!

In Minnesota

Gov. Mark Dayton, a few months into his second term and in the thick of legislative session politics, has the support of 54 percent of likely voters, according to a new poll. Thirty-six percent disapprove, while 10 percent are undecided. (Star Tribune)

Dayton wants the lowest paid workers at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport to get a raise to $10 an hour. (MPR News)

Even as Dayton and top state lawmakers vow no state money to help build a new Minneapolis stadium for the Major League Soccer franchise announced Wednesday, leaders of the House and Senate are preparing to mount a push to approve Super Bowl-related tax breaks requested by the NFL. (Star Tribune)

Advocates of a push to grant driver’s licenses to people living in the country illegally packed a Minnesota House hearing, at times breaking into tears as supporters explained how the change would affect them. (AP via Pioneer Press)

DFL U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum says she’s concerned about a state plan to change a clean water standard aimed at protecting wild rice. (MPR News)

National Politics

House Republicans approved Wednesday a $3.8 trillion budget for the upcoming fiscal year following an unusual effort by party leaders to pump up Pentagon funding to ensure passage. (USA Today)

Fearing that Republicans will ultimately nominate an establishment presidential candidate like Jeb Bush, leaders of the nation’s Christian right have mounted an ambitious effort to coalesce their support behind a single social-conservative contender months before the first primary votes are cast. (New York Times)

U.S. Rep. John Kline is asking for an almost $60 million increase in funding to the Bureau of Indian Affairs in as part of a recent push to end many of the unsafe conditions in Bureau of Indian Education schools across the country. (Star Tribune)

An ambitious 12-nation trade accord pushed by President Obama would allow foreign corporations to sue the United States government for actions that undermine their investment “expectations” and hurts their business, according to a classified document. (New York Times)

Sen. Al Franken, once a frequent guest on Letterman in his pre-politician days, is returning to the show for an appearance next week. (Pioneer Press)

You’ll definitely feel sorry for these guys: political donors who bundle donations from friends and colleagues are feeling ignored as candidates turn towards having billionaire patrons who can fund a super PAC. (Washington Post)