Good morning and welcome to Monday. Here’s the Digest:

1. In April 2016, opioids killed 35 people in Minnesota or were a contributing factor in their deaths. Only one was named Prince. The dead included a nurse, a construction worker and a phone technician. One was an economist, another a college student. There was a Marine veteran who’d served in Iraq. They were sons and daughters, mothers, fathers and grandparents. The world knows Prince, who died a year ago Friday of a fentanyl overdose. Hundreds of other Minnesotans who’ve died during the years-long epidemic of heroin and other opioids remain largely unknown to anyone beyond those who loved them. (MPR News)

2. Months after the Minnesota Historical Society took a stand against Gov. Mark Dayton over Civil War art in his State Capitol reception room, the governor is backing a bill to strip the state’s preservation agency from the historical society and move it under his control. Dayton’s spokeswoman said the measure, which would move the State Historic Preservation Office from the historical society to the Department of Administration in the executive branch, is designed to reduce inefficiency and improve accountability. She denied it was connected to the art flap. Others aren’t so sure. (Star Tribune)

3. Among provisions of the budget bills passed by the Minnesota Senate budget is one that reduces and shifts funding for the Minnesota National Guard in ways that administration officials say could hamper the military’s ability to post armed guards at its army facilities, cut enlistment bonuses and tuition for guard members or force eventual closure of some outstate armories. In good economic times and bad, leaders of both parties have generally kept funding for Minnesota’s Department of Military Affairs as untouched as they could. But not this year.  DFL Gov. Mark Dayton says it makes no sense to cut funding when the state is running a surplus. But the senators who compiled the plan say they want to honor the troops as they serve the state and nation as well as after they have left the service. And, they say, the military needs to cut back and find efficiencies much like those they are asking of other state agencies. (Pioneer Press)

4. Theater professionals plan to gather in Minneapolis Monday morning to talk about the National Endowment for the Arts and its impact on their work. President Trump has proposed eliminating the NEA, along with other cultural programs, as part of his federal budget. “It’s not enough to say ‘No, please don’t cut this funding’ — we have to be very vocal about why it’s important,” said Paul Coate, an actor and singer who helped organize the meeting at Mixed Blood Theatre. He said his goal is to raise awareness of just how important the National Endowment for the Arts is to Minnesota’s cultural scene. (MPR News)

5. Emmanuel Macron, a centrist politician who’s never held elective office, and Marine Le Pen, the far-right firebrand who wants to take France out of the European Union, are expected to advance to next month’s run-off for the presidency of the country, according to projections based on early vote counts. It will set up a battle in May between two politicians with not only completely different visions for France but – more significantly – utterly different views of one of the biggest issues facing many voters in the West today: globalization. (NPR)

 

Good morning and welcome to Friday. I know I’m planning to enjoy it, but no Friday can really get underway without a look at the Digest.

1. Legislation that would roll back sick-leave ordinances in Minneapolis and St. Paul and stop cities from setting the local minimum wage higher than the state level passed in the Minnesota Senate Thursday by a vote of 35-31. Once merged with a House-passed bill, the final decision on the bill would fall to Gov. Mark Dayton, who isn’t saying what he might do with it. The legislation is called preemption because the state would be restricting what could be done down the government food chain. In a sign of how controversial the issue has become, senators arriving for the debate had to weave through a throng of protesters who were waving signs and chanting. (MPR News)

2. Gov. Dayton is urging House Republicans to support a Real ID bill that does not include language banning drivers’ licenses for unauthorized immigrants. It’s the key difference that House and Senate negotiators are trying to work out between their competing Real ID bills. A conference committee began meeting this week. Minnesota remains out of compliance with the federal Real ID law, which begins a new enforcement phase next year at airports. Dayton and legislative leaders want a bill passed this session. (MPR News)

3. The size of state government is a key issue in budget negotiations at the Capitol. Republicans say the state is collecting more tax revenue than it needs, and to make way for tax cuts, they’ve proposed trimming government across the board. Gov. Dayton, however, wants to spend most of the surplus on government programs, not on permanent tax cuts. “In a [time] of a $1.5 billion budget surplus,” Dayton said. “They’re cutting state agencies as if there’s no consequence of them doing so.” But the debate goes beyond the surplus. Republicans’ budget proposals also represent a desire to halt what they’ve called “stunning” increases in the growth of several state agencies over the last decade. All of which means that in order to finish the session by the Legislature’s May 22 deadline, Dayton and Republican leaders will have to reconcile their diametrically opposed views on a core issue: the role of the state’s bureaucracy. (MinnPost)

4. Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie Gildea testified Thursday during a conference committee hearing, where House and Senate negotiators were working out the differences between their budget bills for judiciary and public safety. Gildea, who is the administrative head of the judicial branch, reminded committee members that the courts are a vital part of the government’s basic functions. “The judiciary is not a mere state agency,” Gildea said. “The judiciary is a branch of government and it deserves to be funded as such.” The judicial branch is seeking a $51.4 million increase over its current funding levels. The bulk of the request ($42 million) would pay salary and benefits for judges and staff.  Gov. Dayton included the full amount in his budget proposal. The House and Senate bills provided only partial increases. (MPR News)

5. During a White House news conference, President Trump said progress was being made on a “great plan” for overhauling the nation’s health care system, though he provided no details. “We have a good chance of getting it soon,” Trump said. “I’d like to say next week.” The White House optimism is driven largely by a deal brokered by leaders of the conservative Freedom Caucus and the moderate Tuesday Group aimed at giving states more flexibility to pull out of “Obamacare” provisions. A senior White House official acknowledged that it was unclear how many votes Republicans had, but said House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., has told the White House that a vote could come together quickly. Still, GOP lawmakers and aides to party leaders, conservatives and moderates alike were skeptical that the House would vote next week on the health legislation. They cited the higher priority of passing a spending bill within days to avert a government shutdown, uncertainty over details of the developing health agreement and a need to sell it to lawmakers. (AP)

The chief justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court is urging state lawmakers to provide adequate funding for the state court system.

Chief Justice Lorie Gildea testified Thursday during a conference committee hearing, where House and Senate negotiators were working out the differences between their budget bills for judiciary and public safety. She said it was a rare appearance by a chief justice in such a gathering.

Gildea, who is the administrative head of the judicial branch, reminded committee members that the courts are a vital part of the government’s basic functions.

“The judiciary is not a mere state agency,” Gildea said. “The judiciary is a branch of government and it deserves to be funded as such.”

The judicial branch is seeking a $51.4 million increase over its current funding levels. The bulk of the request ($42 million) would pay salary and benefits for judges and staff.

DFL Gov. Mark Dayton included the full amount in his budget proposal. The House and Senate bills provided only partial increases.

Gildea said the judicial branch made a “modest, targeted” request that is needed to process cases in a timely manner and ensure access to justice.

“Public safety is jeopardized when we do not have a fully-funded, functioning judiciary,” she said.

Funding for the courts also came up earlier in the day during a private meeting that included Dayton, House Speaker Kurt Daudt and Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka.

Dayton told reporters that he stressed the importance of funding the chief justice’s full request. He said he hears about the growing demands on the court system every time he interviews candidates for judicial vacancies.

“Every one of them talks about the increased case load in their particular judicial district,” Dayton said.

Daudt, R-Zimmerman, said he appreciates and respects the judicial branch. But Daudt also stressed that he’s trying to keep spending in check.

“We have to decide how to take those resources and spread them across all of state government,” Daudt said. “We have to make decisions and sometimes you have to prioritize. Sometimes it means that people get 75 percent of their request, not 100 percent.”

Gazleka, R-Nisswa, said he was trying to schedule a meeting with Gildea to listen to her concerns.

“We’ll take a serious look at that,” Gazelka said.