Lots of bill introductions and hearings to start the first full week of the 2013 Minnesota Legislature. The House Ways and Means Committee talks over the November forecast with Minnesota Management and Budget officials.
Retailers are pushing back against a possible clothing tax to help the state budget, warning it could damage business and chase away big-spending out-of-state shoppers.
Federal health rule could penalize Minnesota insurers (Pioneer Press)
“Without a change in proposed federal rules, the continuation of a Minnesota health insurance program for people with costly illnesses could cost health plans and their subscribers more than $60 million next year.”
Insurers question benefit claims of planned state exchange (MPR News)
State officials say most Minnesotans who buy individual health plans will pay the same or smaller premiums on a planned state insurance exchange in 2016. But some insurers question the figures.
Carp, moose, mining high on environmental to-do list (Associated Press)
“Carp, wolves, moose, copper and sand will be high on the agenda as the Minnesota Legislature tackles environmental and outdoor issues this session.”
Theis wins GOP nod to run for St. Cloud House seat (St. Cloud Times)
“St. Cloud business owner Tama Theis won the Republican endorsement for next month’s House District 14A special election on the seventh round of balloting Saturday.” This is the election to replace Rep. Steve Gottwalt, who recently resigned.
Obama will seek citizenship path in one fast push (New York Times)
Feds won’t mint platinum coin to solve debt ceiling (Washington Post)
In gun debate, agreement to punish background-check liars (New York Times)
Ellison: Time for Congress to build a better drone policy (Washington Post)
But it can also be a problem as slip-ups or controversial messages from public officials and staffers lead to firings or employee discipline.
One Republican staffer in the Minnesota House has this picture in her office to remind her of the dangers of Twitter. — Tom Scheck
Stillwater native may be Obama’s new chief of staff
Denis McDonough, a Minnesotan and St. John’s University graduate, could be President Obama’s next chief of staff. The Hill reports Obama is leaning toward McDonough, currently deputy national security adviser, to replace Jack Lew (a Carleton College grad) as White House chief of staff.
McDonough’s on the MPR News page of influential Minnesotans in Washington.
Fleet Farm enters gun control debate
Stewart Mills, the president of Mills Fleet Farm, is entering the debate over gun control. He released a “video letter” to DFL Rep. Rick Nolan, DFL Sen. Al Franken and DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar complaining about efforts to ban assault-style weapons.
In particular, Mills took issue with comments made by Nolan that he doesn’t need an assault rifle to duck hunt. Mills said a shotgun is a more dangerous weapon. The video, which could be seen as an effort to boost gun sales at Fleet Farm stores, was praised by several Republicans who suggested Mills should run for office.
Mills said in the video that he thinks putting armed guards in every school is the best way to counter recent school shootings, look at the impacts of violent video games on society and address mental health issues. – Tom Scheck
Fenton seeks to keep Minn. deputy GOP post
Kelly Fenton, deputy chair of the Republican Party of Minnesota, says she intends to run for re-election for that post. Fenton was first elected to the job in 2011 and served as acting party chair.
State of the State
The state constitution requires governors to “communicate by message to each session of the legislature information touching the state and country.” Gov. Dayton plans to do fulfill that duty Feb. 6 at 7 p.m. when he delivers the State of the State.