The Daily Digest (Session starts, where are the lawyers?)

The 2013 Minnesota Legislature kicks off at noon today. Check out MPR’s top 10 issues to watch in the Legislature before the doors open.

Headlines

Health insurance changes loom large (MPR News)

State lawmakers are under a tight deadline as they confront issues tied to the federal health care overhaul, including the creation of a health insurance exchange.

Same-sex marriage debate moves to the Capitol (MPR News)

Defeat of the constitutional amendment defining marriage as one man and one woman doesn’t mean the new Legislature is ready to embrace same sex marriage.

Minn. Legislature boosts pay out of public eye (WCCO)

“New numbers from the Minnesota legislature show state lawmakers paid themselves more than a $1 million last year in per diem payments — out of the public eye.”

Panel urges more guards at Minn. Capitol (Associated Press)

Task force proposed dramatically expanding the Capitol complex security force.

Democrats in control but they’re not in lockstep (Star Tribune)

DFL leaders say they’re ready to “take on friends, opponents and even the governor, if needed” to show they can govern without overreaching.

$6 billion tab projected for Minn. water line fixes (MPR News)

Officials across Minnesota struggle with cost and challenges of aging public water systems. Duluth alone spends $2.3 million a year to fix breaks and leaks.


Where have all the lawyers gone?

When the new crop of legislators is sworn in today, House Republicans won’t have a lawyer in the bunch. GOP Rep. Torrey Westrom is moving from the House to the Senate. Reps. Doug Wardlow and Steve Smith lost their respective reelection bids.

Compare that with twelve lawyers in the House DFL Caucus, three lawyers in the Senate GOP caucus and four lawyers in the Senate DFL Caucus.

House Republicans looking for legal advice won’t have to travel too far. GOP Rep. Joyce Peppin is in her final year of law school. — Tom Scheck

Dayton’s second Supreme choice?

Gov. Dayton will get to make his second appointment to the Minnesota Supreme Court. Justice Paul Anderson, who was appointed to the court by GOP Gov. Arne Carlson in 1994, is retiring in May. Anderson is hitting the mandatory retirement age of 70 that month.

Dayton appointed Wilhelmina Wright to the court in August. He could consider three others who were vying for Wright’s post for Anderson’s seat. They are former U.S. Attorney David Lillehaug, Hennepin County Judge Tanya Bransford and state Appeals Court Judge Margaret Chutich. — Tom Scheck

In D.C., eyes on Nolan

Newly-sworn in U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan gave his first press conference on Monday where he discussed his committee assignments, the upcoming debt ceiling debate and repeated his oft-cited criticism of the congressional calendar.

Republicans are watching Nolan carefully, eying a potential chance to defeat him in 2014 and issuing a steady stream of critical press releases about him, the latest claiming Nolan’s spending plans would “bankrupt” Minnesota families.
– Brett Neely