The Daily Digest (Foreclosures checked, exchange advanced; in Peterson race, a GOP chance?

Debt and taxes will be topics of conversation this morning in hearings at the Capitol, starting with an overview of Minnesota’s debt set for the House Capital Investment Committee.

State

Health exchange bill passes first Senate committee (MPR News)

It’s expected that one in five Minnesotans will use the online exchange to comparison shop for health care policies and enroll in Medicaid beginning in October. Legislation must still pass 13 more committees.

Some gun rights supporters dispute data on firearms, self-defense (MPR News)

Some gun owners say having a gun at home has helped them protect their families and property and they see bias in data showing guns at home were more likely to be used on the resident than on an intruder.

Minnesota House bill would put checks on foreclosure (Star Tribune)

Bill would stop lenders from starting foreclosure proceedings “at the same time they are working with homeowners on ways to avoid foreclosure.”

Franken undecided on assault weapons ban (Rochester Post-Bulletin)

In Rochester, Sen. Al Franken says he supports limits on ammunition magazines and tightening background checks, but didn’t say whether he supported an assault weapons, a key provision of the president’s plan.

UPDATE: Franken in a statement said he supports “the principle that we should reinstate a ban on assault weapons, and I will carefully review any proposal to do that.”

Nation

9 in 10 back universal gun background checks (CBS News)

NRA’s success shows challenges facing Obama gun plans(Washington Post)

Minn. native McDonough to be named White House chief of staff (Politico)

White House slams ‘repugnant’ NRA gun video mentioning Obama kids (Politico)

Republicans hopeful on unseating Peterson?

2012 may have just ended, but the campaign cycle never ends for political strategists in Washington. On Wednesday, the National Republican Congressional Committee released its list of takeover targets for the 2014 midterm election cycle and put long-serving DFL U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson on the list.

The House GOP has long dreamed of unseating Peterson but the independent-minded DFLer (he only voted with House Democrats 57 percent of the time in the past Congress) has long withstood a variety of Republican challengers and won his most recent election by 25 points.

House Republicans also suggested that rural Democrats Tim Walz and Rick Nolan were vulnerable though both also managed to cruise to victory last November. – Brett Neely

Obama taps Minnesota’s U.S. Attorney to head ATF

President Barack Obama intends to nominate B. Todd Jones, Minnesota’s U.S. Attorney, as director of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Jones has served as the ATF’s acting director since late 2011 while working as Minnesota’s chief federal prosecutor. – Madeleine Baran

Sales tax changes likely in Dayton budget plan

Expect a proposal to change the sales tax in Gov. Dayton’s coming budget, Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk told the TPT show “Almanac at the Capitol.”

One of the earliest Senate bills would impose new taxes on clothing sales. It faces stiff opposition from the Mall of America and other retailers.

“If we go down the road of starting to expand the sales tax … part of the deal is we have to reduce the rate on everything else people buy,” said Bakk, adding he didn’t know the details of what the governor will propose.

Commissioner confirmations

The Senate Environment and Energy Committee will hold confirmation hearings today for MN Pollution Control Agency Commissioner John Linc Stine and MN Board of Soil and Water Resources Chair Brian Napstad.

The hearings are just two days after committees recommended the full Senate confirm Management and Budget Commissioner Jim Schowalter and Higher Education Director Larry Pogemiller. – Tom Scheck

Ellison wants gun victims’ voice at State of the Union

Saying he wants to keep the pressure on for new gun safety laws, DFL Rep. Keith Ellison and other congressional Democrats plan to invite gun violence victims to the House chamber Feb. 12 to hear President Obama’s State of the Union address.