The Daily Digest (Sales tax beef, property tax relief; Oberstar as transit chief?)

Legislative panels today push ahead on state worker contracts, Gov. Dayton’s budget proposals and plans for a Minnesota health care exchange.

Should visually impaired hunters be allowed to use laser sights in some hunting situations? The Environment and Natural Resources Policy Committee takes a look.

State

GOP challenges Dayton on property tax rebate plan (MPR News)

Key Republican says plan to provide $500 property tax rebates to all homeowners might be more about Dayton’s 2014 re-election campaign than it is about making good tax policy.

Dayton and GOP clash over fairness of tax plan (MPR News)

Republicans are zeroing in on Gov. Dayton’s sales tax and property tax proposals, saying it would force middle income Minnesotans to pay more in sales taxes. Dayton says he’s creating a level playing field for all Minnesotans.

Jim Oberstar for transportation secretary? (Star Tribune)

“With the resignation of U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, ex-Minnesota congressman Jim Oberstar, is being mentioned frequently in Washington parlor chatter about a successor and says he’ll serve if asked.”

Mankato prof wins DFL primary for state House seat (Mankato Free Press)

Voters picked Clark Johnson, “echoing the preference of DFL activists at a party endorsing convention 10 days earlier.” He’ll face Republican Allen Quist and Independence Party candidate Tim Gieseke in a Feb. 12 special election.

Republicans say Dayton’s budget can’t guarantee property tax cuts (Pioneer Press)

“As state lawmakers continued to dissect Gov. Mark Dayton’s tax and spending plans, Republicans hammered at the DFLer’s proposed $1.4 billion property tax rebate, arguing that writing homeowners a check doesn’t guarantee tax relief.”

Minn. Senate panel backs jury bias ban (Associated Press)

“In a split vote, Judiciary Committee lawmakers passed a bill to prohibit lawyers from dismissing potential jurors based solely on their sexual orientation or marital status.”

Nation

US consumers less optimistic after tax increase (Associated Press)

Audit: Defense slow to develop sex-assault policies (Washington Post)

Obama: No more debate, pass immigration reform now (NBC News)

Kerry sails through the Senate as Secretary of State (New York Times)

Senate (dry) run?

It could be the first of many statement skirmishes in the 2014 U.S. Senate race. On Tuesday, the DFL group, The Alliance for a Better Minnesota, blogged on the four-year anniversary of a pay equity law and then criticized GOP Rep. Erik Paulsen for voting against the measure.

Hours later, the Minnesota Republican Party issued a statement criticizing DFL Sen. Al Franken’s vote on the medical device tax.

Franken is running for reelection. Paulsen told MPR News he wasn’t running for the U.S. Senate but has since backed off those measures. No Republican has stepped up to challenge Franken yet. — Tom Scheck

Dayton was against trade office before he was for it

Gov. Dayton’s budget plan would provide funding for three foreign trade offices. The move is a reversal from his 2010 campaign promise to close the trade office.

Dayton told reporters on Tuesday that he reversed his policy stance after talking with DEED Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben, business leaders and agricultural leaders who are focused on building export markets.

“I hope I’m learning a little bit here and there as I go along this process,” Dayton said. “Situations change, times change and this would be one of those,” Dayton said.

– Tom Scheck

Obama in Minneapolis Monday

President Obama will be in Minneapolis on Monday, according to White House officials. The purpose of his visit is unclear. The White House said more details would be released “when they become available.” – Brett Neely