Good morning and welcome to Thursday. Here’s the Digest.
1. Republican Congressman Tom Emmer faced an overflow crowd at a town hall meeting Wednesday night in Sartell. As has happened around the country, many in the audience came to express their disagreement with President Trump and the GOP majorities in Congress. Unlike other meetings, this one stayed mostly respectful, and for an hour Emmer answered every question the audience put to him. (MPR News)
2. Bills that toughen criminal penalties for protesters who block highways, airports or public transit are moving in the Minnesota House and Senate. Supporters say recent demonstrations in the Twin Cities show that the current misdemeanor penalty is not deterring what is already an illegal act. The bill would increase the penalty to a gross misdemeanor. Opponents argue that the increased penalties are too high and would infringe on the rights of the protesters. (MPR News)
3. Democrats from around the country begin meeting in Atlanta today to pick a new chair of the Democratic National Committee. Six-term Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison and former Obama administration Labor Secretary Tom Perez are seen as the main rivals. But they’re not the only candidates. After an election last year where they lost the White House, failed to win back either house of Congress and suffered numerous statehouse defeats the party is trying to reestablish an identity and find a new strategy. (MPR News)
4. The Minneapolis DFL paid $2,000 for a poll to see if Green Party City Council Member Cam Gordon would be vulnerable in November’s election, a move that has irked progressives at City Hall. The poll, conducted in the Second Ward last week, was commissioned by Minneapolis DFL Chair Dan McConnell without consulting the central committee. The potential candidate who would run against Gordon is McConnell’s wife, Becky Boland, secretary of the Minneapolis DFL. (Star Tribune)
5. President Trump Wednesday rescinded protections for transgender students that had allowed them to use bathrooms of their gender identity, overruling his own education secretary and placing his administration firmly in the middle of the culture wars that many Republicans have tried to leave behind. In a joint letter, the top civil rights officials from the Justice Department and the Department of Education rejected the Obama administration’s position that nondiscrimination laws require schools to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms of their choice. (New York Times)