The Daily Digest (Major hiccups for Central Corridor construction, Session starts Tuesday, Bachmann surfaces in MN, Koch speaks)

MPR News has an investigation into the Central Corridor project and finds that “the first year of major construction on a future light-rail line in St. Paul suffered from communication lapses, haphazard planning, and inattention to community concerns — and that’s according to the government agency that manages the project.” The findings were a result of an open records request of the agency.

Under the Dome

Session starts on Tuesday.

There are plenty of session previews lined up. The Star Tribune, the Pi Press and Forum Communications have looks.

A key issue this session will be the expansion of gambling. The Star Tribune says slots have been getting little or no review by state regulators.

AP says voters could see a raft of constitutional amendments on the ballot.

Former GOP Sen. Majority Leader Amy Koch is starting to do interviews. WCCO and the Star Tribune scored the first interviews. Koch shows no signs of stepping down and signals that she may even run for reelection. Koch originally scheduled interviews with other news outlets for Tuesday but rescheduled them for today.

One key question this session is whether Republican lawmakers continue to oppose the creation of a health insurance exchange even though some big groups like the MCCL and the Chamber of Commerce support it.

Health plans have launched their own exchanges ahead of the public version.

Vikings Stadium

It looks like Ramsey County is down for the count.

Party Politics

GOP Chair Pat Shortridge says party leaders have agreed to create stronger oversight of the party’s budget. There are also plans to review some of the party’s spending.

Democrats will hold a newser today to criticize the MNGOP for hiring lawmakers and candidates. The presser comes as a result of MPR’s look into the MNGOP finances.

St. Cloud will host this year’s GOP state convention.

Wisconsin

Hundreds rallied for Gov. Walker.

Congress

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-AZ, will resign from Congress this week.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said people who are troubled by the political ads that were fueled by the Citizens United ruling should just turn off their TVs.

MPR says DFL Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken are in a tough spot on the internet privacy bill known as SOPA.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan praised Minnesota’s efforts and improvements with K12 schools.

House Republicans are seeking unity heading into the election.

Klobuchar and GOP Rep. Chip Cravaack returned some of their unused expense allowances.

Klobuchar does an interview with Elle Magazine.

Klobuchar invited a community college president to the State of the Union.

Kurdish refugees want visas for relatives and friends who helped the U.S. military.

Race for U.S. Senate

It appears that the GOP candidates for U.S. Senate are working on agreeing to a set of debates. Anthony Hernandez and Joe Arwood have both agreed to meet in a series of debates. No word yet on whether Dan Severson supports the idea. The eventual nominee will face DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar in November.

Race for Congress

GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann made her first public appearance in Minnesota since she dropped her bid for the White House. Bachmann wouldn’t say whether she’s running for reelection.

GOP Rep. John Kline is giving money to the GOP candidate in an Oregon special election.

Race for President

The Republican race heads to Florida after Newt Gingrich’s surprise victory in South Carolina.

Gingrich’s comeback is vindication.

Mitt Romney will release some of his tax returns.

He is also ramping up his criticism of Gingrich.

Romney’s offshore accounts amount to $32 million.

NPR says the race to the right could present problems in the general election.

President Obama will kick off his reelection campaign with Tuesday’s State of the Union.

Ron Paul plans to make a significant ad buy in Minnesota.

KARE11 says Minnesota’s February caucuses could play a fact in the race.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says he would consider being Romney’s running mate.

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