Good morning and happy Friday to you. It’s a cold day in Minnesota, maybe the coldest day of the winter. If it’s any consolation, next Friday we’ll have 13 more minutes of daylight in the Twin Cities than we’ll have today. On with the Digest:

1. The Minnesota Senate passed a Republican-sponsored bill Thursday that provides relief for people facing big health insurance premium increases and makes structural changes to the individual insurance market. Senate Democrats unsuccessfully tried to substitute Gov. Mark Dayton’s rebate plan, which they say would provide quicker relief at a lower cost. The House has yet to debate another plan, which means there will likely have to be more negotiations before a bill reaches Dayton’s desk. (MPR News)

2.  The Minnesota Senate passed legislation Thursday to align the state tax code to recent federal changes. The House passed the bill unanimously last week. The move would provide $21 million in tax relief to an estimated 220,000 Minnesotans. Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes, the chair of the Senate tax committee, said the bill is the first phase of tax cuts planned this session. (MPR News)

3. Some Republican state lawmakers appear to be attempting an end run around the Public Utilities Commission to get a new power plant built in Becker. Xcel Energy wants to build a natural gas burning plant to replace its massive coal plant there, but the PUC wants more time to study the cost and possible alternatives before giving the go ahead. Area lawmakers concerned about the local economy introduced bills this week that would green light a power plant without approval from the commission. (Star Tribune)

4. The Justice Department inspector general’s office will investigate F.B.I. Director James Comey for his decision to inform Congress about a new review in the Hillary Clinton email investigation days before the election last November. The inspector general’s office said the investigation was prompted by complaints from members of Congress and the public about actions that appeared to be politically motivated by the F.B.I. and the Justice Department. (New York Times)

5. Retired Gen. James Mattis is poised to become defense secretary in the Trump Administration. He sailed through a hearing Thursday with a vote of 24-3 in favor of his confirmation from the Senate Armed Services Committee. A waiver he needs because he retired from the Marines so recently also looks cleared to pass. In his testimony to the committee Mattis broke with Trump on a few key issues, expressing support for NATO and saying he would support the nuclear arms deal with Iran. (Politico)

The Minnesota Senate has passed legislation to align the state tax code to recent federal changes.

Lawmakers voted 66-0 Thursday, sending the bill to Gov. Dayton. The House passed the bill unanimously last week.

It would provide $21 million in tax relief to an estimated 220,000 Minnesotans. Lawmakers and state officials wanted quick action this session to have the changes in place by the start of the tax filing season on Jan. 23.

The bill is the first phase of relief and reform planned this session, according to Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes, who chairs the Senate tax committee.

“What this would essentially do is conform with federal tax law,” Chamberlain said. “So, we will smooth out the filing process for a lot of Minnesotans, avoid the hassles of a lot of paperwork and start to issue tax reforms for a lot of Minnesotans.”

Senate Democrats tried unsuccessfully to add more tax cuts to the bill, including the tax bill that Gov. Dayton vetoed last spring.

“This is our chance to get tax relief,” said Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook.

Meanwhile, the House tax committee has begun looking at legislation to adjust the state estate tax, including a proposal to eliminate it.

Current state law exempts estates that are valued at less than $1.8 million. The exemption is set to rise to $2 million next year.

Rep. Joe McDonald, R-Delano, the repeal bill’s chief author, said he knows people who lost a family farm due to the tax. He knows others who moved out of state to avoid it, he said.

“They could put up with the cold. They’re not wussies. We here in Minnesota are pretty tough,” McDonald said. “They moved out because they can save their families and their generations of families a lot of money from the government extracting through coercion and taking it from the death tax.”

House Tax Chair Greg Davids, R-Preston, said he think the estate tax is “an evil tax.”

“My gosh, we tax you while you’re living, isn’t that enough?” Davids said. “Now you’re dead, and we hit you again. That’s just not very Minnesota nice.”

The committee is also considering two bills that would increase the estate tax exemption level. One would set the trigger at $5 million. The other would set it at $5.49 million by aligning the law with federal tax code.

But Rep. Diane Loeffler, DFL-Minneapolis, said it would take tens of millions of dollars to substantially cut the tax and raised concerns about the budget implications of losing estate tax revenue.

“I’m still struggling with the priority of such a small group getting such a big benefit.” Loeffler said.

Last week, Gov. Dayton proposed a $300 million package of tax cuts that he wants passed this session. His plan includes tax breaks for farmers, college students, low income families and parents paying for child care.

Republicans have said their plan will be bigger.

Football fans who flock to Minnesota for next year’s Super Bowl could get a bar-time bonus.

A bill introduced Thursday in the Legislature would allow Hennepin and Ramsey Counties to push bar closing time to 4 a.m. instead of the regular 2 a.m. It’s similar to the extended service hours enacted when the Republicans held their national convention in St. Paul in 2008.

The bill’s sponsor Rep. Ray Dehn, DFL-Minneapolis, said events the size of the Super Bowl move to their own clock.

“Often times there will be other events and activities that people will be to in the evening, so they may actually be arriving at a bar later than they normally would,” Dehn said. “The question isn’t what does an extra two hours get you. The question is what kind of time will they have in a bar in the end.”

If approved, the special 2018 closing hours would be in effect from Feb. 2 to Feb. 5. The game will be played on Feb. 4, 2018.

Local regulators would be allowed to collect an extra licensing fee for establishments that want the extra time.

Dehn said some city establishments are hoping for the opportunity.

“Bars make their revenues from selling liquor to people and if they have the ability for an extended period of time I’m sure it will help their revenues as well,” he said.

Dehn said he’s not aware of any other requests from Super Bowl organizers or the NFL for the current legislative session.

“At the same time, it’s the NFL, it’s a huge event. I wouldn’t be surprised if they come for other asks here at the Capitol,” he said.