The Daily Digest (Wages raised, staffers unpaid, gun laws remade?)

Quiet Friday at the Capitol as lawmakers ready for next week and the first full slate of hearings on bills introduced this week.

State

Minimum wage hike likely for Minnesota (Associated Press)

A jump in Minnesota’s minimum wage could be coming. Among the first bills in the DFL-controlled Legislature is a proposal to raise the hourly wage to $7.50 for most workers, 25 cents more than the federal minimum.

Quist wins Republican endorsement in House race (Mankato Free Press)

Retired farmer Allen Quist, who served in the state House in the 1980s before a series of unsuccessful runs for governor and Congress, easily won the GOP endorsement Thursday night for a special election to fill a vacant state House seat.

Tussle over staff pay erupts in MN Senate (MPR News)

The DFL-controlled Senate Rules Committee cut salaries and jobs in the Senate Republican Caucus, including cuts of up to 40 percent for some staff. GOP leader David Hann called the move “extremely mean spirited.”

Dayton mulls changes to Minnesota gun laws (Star Tribune)

Gov. Mark Dayton, who joined a conference call about guns with Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday, is now looking at possibly changing Minnesota’s gun laws.

Range Lawmaker Has Prostate Cancer (WDIO)

Rep. Tom Anzelc of Balsam Township says he has been diagnosed with prostate cancer but doctors told him that the cancer is treatable.

MN Senate wants data on U administrative spending (MPR News)

Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk expressed concern about a recent Wall Street Journal article indicating the U is among the worst among top national public research universities in administrative bloat.

Nation

Bachmann still hasn’t paid presidential campaign staffers (Salon)

Tough Path Seen by Obama on Ban of Assault Weapons (New York Times)

Pentagon readies for possible March spending cuts (New York Times)

White House considers officers in schools (Washington Post)

Obama taking heavy criticism from women’s groups (Washington Post)

Out of the frying pan?

In its latest economic update, Minnesota Management and Budget says tax receipts in November and December are $114 million more than projected in the last budget forecast.

Officials said the deal to avert the so-called fiscal cliff helped the U.S. avoid a predicted recession. But now they warn the looming debt ceiling fight between the GOP controlled House and President Obama could cause deeper problems for the economy. — Tom Scheck

Quick confirmations?

Two committees in the Minnesota Senate are working quickly to confirm two of Gov. Dayton’s commissioners.

The Senate Finance Committee is scheduled to hold a Tuesday hearing on Management and Budget Commissioner Jim Schowalter’s confirmation. The Senate Higher Education Committee is scheduled to hold a Tuesday hearing on Higher Ed Commissioner Larry Pogemiller’s confirmation.

Both commissioners are expected to be confirmed now that the Senate is controlled by Democrats. Gov. Dayton’s office says 15 of his appointments are waiting to be confirmed. – Tom Scheck