Good morning, and welcome to Tuesday. It’s another decision day in the presidential nominating process, as people in Indiana vote in the primary. We’ll have results on the radio beginning this evening at six. Let’s take a look at the Digest.
1. As I mentioned yesterday Minnesota Senate Democrats released a $1.5 billion public works construction plan. It includes $80 million in a fund to improve wastewater plants or focus on drinking water supplies, $150 million for local road and bridge rehabilitation projects, and another $65 million for changes to road crossings along oil rail lines. Republicans say it’s too big and would commit the state to too much bonding debt. (MPR News)
2. Officials in St. Louis County are reopening an investigation into a privately run juvenile detention center after a news investigation into allegations of sexual and physical abuse. And the Minnesota Department of Corrections said it planned to meet with officials from the facility, KidsPeace Mesabi Academy in Buhl, and the county to discuss the state’s law requiring that abuse allegations be reported. (MPR News)
3. The Star Tribune’s poll has an interesting, if not totally unexpected, result. Most black Minnesotans think the police officers involved in the death of Jamar Clark should be prosecuted. Most white Minnesotans don’t. (Star Tribune)
4. Donald Trump expects to win big in Indiana today and nail down a victory in the fight for the Republican presidential nomination. Ted Cruz is campaigning hard, but Trump has a big lead in public opinion polls. Trump is also pivoting to a general election contest with Hillary Clinton. (Washington Post)
5. Speaking of Hillary Clinton, the polls in Indiana show a tightening race with Bernie Sanders, but because the Democratic delegates are allocated on a proportional basis, Sanders would have to win big to put a real dent in her delegate lead. Here are some things to watch for in Indiana. (New York Times)
Guidelines for police use of body-worn cameras have again passed the Minnesota Senate, but they face an uncertain fate in the House.
The Senate voted 47-14 Monday to make much of the data captured by the cameras private. Some exceptions are when deadly or substantial force occurs at the hands of police or if someone in the video seeks its release.
Senators rejected an amendment to require officers to gain consent before filming in a dwelling put forward by those who say the cameras are equivalent to searches that would otherwise require a warrant. Opponents of that amendment said it’s not clear who would be empowered to give or withhold consent, making the request unworkable.
Sen. Carla Nelson, R-Rochester, argued that fiddling with a camera while responding to a call could put officers at risk.
“I just believe that these situations are so volatile and so intense. And not knowing what is coming next I would not want our police officers or sheriffs to take their eyes off the situation at hand in order to shut off off the body cameras,” she said. “I understand the concern. But I think the concern is how this data is used, which this bill does address by making it private.”
Under the bill, law enforcement agencies using cameras would have to adopt policies governing when they’re on or off and the circumstances for eventually destroying data.
Critics of the bill said it gives too much power to police and doesn’t do enough for transparency.
Officers would also be able to review video before writing their reports or making a statement on an incident.
Sen. Bobby Joe Champion, DFL-Minneapolis, said it favors police over the people they serve.
“Initially we were told this bill was about balance. But we’ve been hearing a lot about law enforcement and what law enforcement needs,” Champion said. “But what is missing is consideration for the person who is on the other side of the lens.”
Sen. Ron Latz, DFL- St. Louis Park, said the cameras give both sides rights and recourse. He rejected suggestions his bill was tilted toward police.
Companion body camera legislation has stalled in the House.
Updated at 12:35 p.m. with Senjem reaction, Bakk comments.
The Democratic-controlled Minnesota Senate will consider a borrowing-to-build proposal that authorizes $1.8 billion worth of construction around the state, on everything from college campus repairs to wastewater facility upgrades to museum and park enhancements.
The Senate committee chairman, LeRoy Stumpf, DFL-Plummer, said the projects in the bill are drawn from more than $5.2 billion in requests. Since September, Stumpf and his colleagues visited cities around Minnesota to get an up-close look at the requests.
“We have moved to try to include a fairly sizable bill but one we can certainly justify,” Stumpf said. He said that many publicly-owned assets are in disrepair and others have failed to keep up with population growth or shifting needs.
“It’s very basic. I explained it as a Ford or a Chevrolet. It’s not a Cadillac,” he added.
Construction packages, known around the Capitol as bonding bills, are unique in that they require three-fifths majorities to pass, given that they depend on incurring long-term state debt. That means neither Democrats in the Senate nor Republicans in the House can rely solely on their members to approve them.
The Senate proposal contains financing for more than 300 individual projects or pots of money for those with similar aim to draw from. As an example, there would be $80 million put into a fund to improve wastewater plants or focus on drinking water supplies. Likewise, there would be $150 million set aside for local road and bridge rehabilitation projects and another $65 million for changes to road crossings along oil rail lines.
Other hefty allocations include more than $131 million for the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System to refurbish existing buildings. Each college system would also get more money for new research labs and classroom buildings.
The Department of Natural Resources would receive $19.7 million to improve state recreation areas and trails. The state Capitol, currently undergoing a $300 million restoration, would have another $22 million in security upgrades.
Republicans say the bill is too big.
Sen. Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, said he was surprised by the size of the DFL bonding proposal. Senjem said he doesn’t think it’s going anywhere this session.
“I don’t think this Legislature, Senate Republicans or certainly the House, is ready to take on a bill like that,” Senjem said. “Why they started out that big I have no idea. But that’s part of their strategy. We’ll probably react with a lack of support on it.”
House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Zimmerman, told reporters last week that his side was waiting to approve its general budget bills before laying out a construction proposal.
“We’re going to eat our vegetables before we have our dessert this session,” Daudt said last Monday.
A big share of the Senate bill, $390 million, is for transportation projects. With negotiations on a separate transportation funding measure still at an impasse, Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, described the bonding bill as a potential backup plan for some projects.
“Maybe this is the best we can do,” Bakk said.
Bakk said he plans to have a Senate vote Thursday on the bonding bill.