The Daily Digest ( Exchanges, standards, a senator walks into a bar…)

Bill introductions Wednesday set the tone and direction for the Minnesota Legislature’s DFL majority. Expect more today as the sessions cranks up.

State

Lawmakers unveil bill to create insurance exchange (MPR News)

Bill calls for 3.5 percent premiums surcharge on health plans for coverage they sell on the exchange to fund the online marketplace.

First batch of bills shows DFL Senate priorities (MPR News)

They include a health insurance exchange, statewide all-day kindergarten and a minimum wage increase.

Norm Coleman rules out bid to recapture Senate seat (Associated Press)
Coleman, who lost his Senate seat to Al Franken in a tight 2010 race, says he isn’t ruling a bid for governor “in or out,” but signaled a decision was a ways off.

Bill would boost checks on vulnerable adult caregivers (Pioneer Press)

Law enforcement and lawmakers are backing a bill that would expand background checks on those who care for vulnerable adults.

GOP leader criticizes proposed history standards (Star Tribune)
Sen. David Hann says the would-be state school standards play down “the contributions of the United States and our economic and political ideals.”

Nation

Justices worry about police power to order blood tests for suspects
(Washington Post)

Expectations low for Joe Biden, NRA talks (Politico)

Obama’s Pick for Treasury Is Said to Be His Chief of Staff (New York Times)

Court considers release of bin Laden images (Washington Post)

Bakk not gung-ho on new gun law

DFL Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk said at last night’s Minnesota Chamber of Commerce dinner that it will be difficult to pass any restrictions on guns. “This is a state with a strong sporting tradition and a lot of gun owners who feel very strongly about it in a bipartisan way so I think it’s very hard to change the current law,” Bakk said.

Coincidentally on Wednesday, Minnesota gun control advocate Heather Martens met with Vice President Joe Biden as part of the president’s gun policy review following the Connecticut school massacre. Biden, she said, made it clear action to reduce gun violence needs to happen at the state level, not just in Congress — Tom Scheck and Brett Neely

No Swoon for June (primary)

The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce is lending its lobbying weight to legislation that would move the primaries from August to June. But DFL House Speaker Paul Thissen isn’t on board with that change.

Thissen said he opposed the idea but that doesn’t mean the idea is dead for the session. — Tom Scheck

A U.S. senator walks into a bar….

One of Minnesota’s senators has a standup comedy gig booked for this March — and it’s not Al Franken.

Amy Klobuchar will be the Democratic speaker at the annual Gridiron dinner in Washington on March 9, according to the website FishbowlDC. It’s an occasion for journalists and politicians to mock themselves and each other with the dinner’s proceeds going to charity.

In 2009, Klobuchar brought down the house at the Washington Press Club Foundation dinner with jokes about raising money from ex-boyfriends. – Brett Neely