The Daily Digest (Guns at Capitol spike, Businesses fight device tax hike; Run for gov? Paulsen might)

Busy day at the Capitol as lawmakers talk health exchanges, insurance fraud and University of Minnesota spending.

But it may all be eclipsed by this morning’s huge global news: Pope Benedict XVI plans to step down — “the first time in nearly 600 years, a pope is resigning from his post as leader of the Roman Catholic Church,” NPR News reports.

State

Legislators eager to parse Minn. budget bills (MPR News)

Nearly three weeks after he unveiled his two-year budget proposal, Most of Gov. Mark Dayton’s tax and spending recommendations have not yet arrived in the House and Senate as bills. Republicans are wondering why.

Paulsen doesn’t rule out statewide run (MPR News)

In the past month, U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen has told several people he’s not interested in running for Senate – only to have his aides quickly retract those statements. On Friday, he said everything is on the table, including a run for Senate or governor.

Minn. health insurance exchange funding sparks disagreement among DFL (Pioneer Press)

“Tax committee DFLers voted to amend the health exchange bill in the Senate so that operating funds would come from an existing fee on cigarettes. Other DFLers disagree, arguing for a fee on new policies sold through the exchange.”

DFL executive director charged with DWI (Star Tribune)

“DFL Party executive director Corey Day has been charged with two counts of driving while intoxicated for a December incident, in which he hit two parked cars. He failed field sobriety tests and was placed under arrest, police said.”

Obama to honor Mary Jo Copeland with second-highest civilian honor (Star Tribune)

“Sharing and Caring Hands founder Mary Jo Copeland, who has been providing shelter to Minneapolis’ poorest families since 1985, will receive the Presidential Citizens Medal on Friday.”

Number of people carrying loaded guns in Capitol spikes (Star Tribune)

“The number of people who have notified authorities they will be carrying loaded weapons in the Capitol has spiked since the DFL-controlled Legislature put gun-control on the agenda, from 56 all of last year to 148 filed in the last month.”

Principal’s severance payout shows limits of transparency law (Pioneer Press)

“Last spring, 192 state lawmakers voted unanimously to require more transparency when money is paid to a public employee who resigns under fire. But the lawmaker who wrote the legislation now says it didn’t go far enough.”

State businesses, lawmakers lash out against medical device tax (WCCO)

“Minnesota’s medical device makers say a new tax to help pay for the federal health care law could cause cutbacks, and even layoffs. They argue 20 to 25 percent of that tax could be paid by Minnesota companies.”

Ex-state Sen. Murphy: Red Wing mayor’s sand lobbying job ‘troubling’ (Red Wing Republican Eagle)

Dennis Egan, “should either immediately resign as mayor of Red Wing or void his contract with the sand mining industry. Not to do so is unethical and a breach of public trust,” Steve Murphy, former state senator from Red Wing, writes.

Nolan learns new D.C. mantra is ‘Show me the money’ (Star Tribune)

“Fresh off a $16 million congressional race, U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan received a not-so-subtle reminder that he is expected to maintain the frenzied fundraising pace that helped him win his northern Minnesota seat.”

Nation

Bachmann campaign’s use of contact list comes under more fire (NBC News)

Obama to renew drive for cuts in nuclear arms (New York Times)

As Obama readies economy-focused State of the Union speech, defense cuts loom (CBS News)

Obama weighing executive moves to counter Congress (Washington Post)

Republican threatens to block Pentagon and C.I.A. nominees (New York Times)