The Daily Digest (Ranked voting tries; Wolf hunt unwise? John Kline ‘survives’?

State lawmakers today hear testimony on children’s mental health, rural broadband issues and the regulation of bullion coin dealers.

Two special elections last night for Minnesota House seats left the DFL and Republican balance unchanged.

State

GOP tops field in special election for St. Cloud seat (St. Cloud Times)

“Republican Tama Theis cruised past DFLer Joanne Dorsher and the Independence Party’s Todd McKee Tuesday, retaining control of a historically GOP district with a special-election win in Minnesota House District 14A.”

DFLer wins N. Mankato area House seat (Mankato Free Press)

“University professor Clark Johnson won 54 percent in a special election for a North Mankato area seat in the Minnesota House beating Republican Allen Quist. The election to replace resigning Rep. Terry Morrow, keeps the seat in DFL hands.”

Minn. delegation generally positive on Obama speech (MPR News)

“One of Obama’s harshest critics in Minnesota’s delegation, Rep. Michele Bachmann, said while the speech didn’t break new ground, she hoped his call to renew the nation’s infrastructure would mean federal funds to help widen I-94 in her district.”

Kline gets ‘survivor’ status during State of the Union speech (Star Tribune)

“Security officials asked Rep. John Kline to view proceedings from an alternate site near the Capitol. The implication: Kline was a designated survivor if a catastrophe hit. It’s a Cold War practice extended in recent years to members of Congress.”

Animal welfare groups sue to end Midwest wolf hunt (Associated Press)

Humane Society and other groups argue “the decision to take wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan off the endangered list threatens the animals’ recovery throughout most of their historic range.”

Minneapolis’ mayoral race puts test to ranked-choice voting system (MPR News)

“With seven declared candidates for Minneapolis’ most hotly contested mayoral race in decades, the city will use ranked-choice voting to decide the winner. This election is expected to draw far more voters and put the system to the test.”

Audit calls for more oversight of Minnesota easements (Star Tribune)

“Minnesota is spending hundreds of millions of dollars conserving private land without ensuring that the money is doing what it’s supposed to, a state watchdog agency says.”

Nation

Poll: Obama’s approval stands at 52% (CBS News)

Obama: “Thriving middle class” key to finishing economic recovery (CBS News)

In GOP response, Rubio offers back-to-basics conservative message (Washington Post)

Raising minimum wage would ease income gap but carries political risks (New York Times)

Obama’s State of the Union climate call may buy time for EPA (Politico)

Hearing set for Mayo Clinic bill

There has been plenty of attention involving a bill that would rely on $585 million in taxpayer money to help the city of Rochester redevelop the city.

The plan, which is being pushed by the Mayo Clinic, is now set to go through the legislative meat grinder on Thursday. The House Jobs and Economic Development Finance and Policy Committee will hold a hearing on the bill that day at 12:30.

Gov. Dayton has said something has to be done to ensure the Mayo Clinic expands in Minnesota. But several lawmakers expressed concerns that the bill could set a bad precedent since the city could tap a portion of income and corporate tax revenues to pay for local development.

Mayo Clinic officials say the money is needed to ensure the city remains a destination medical center. – Tom Scheck