The Daily Digest (Gun concerns air; Saving MinnCare; Sand job for mayor?)

Gun hearings continue into their second day at the Capitol today. Tonight, Gov. Dayton makes his case for his budget and tax reforms in his State of the State speech to the Legislature.

State

Hearings packed as Minn. House eyes limits to gun access, ownership (MPR News)

As lawmakers weigh criminal background checks on nearly all sales and transfers of firearms, police groups target current “gun show loophole” letting private sellers sell guns without asking the buyer to submit to a background check.

Emotions run high at Legislature’s gun-violence hearing (Star Tribune)

“The Accent Signage rampage and other cases provided grim testimony for a committee considering a series of gun bills. Advocates for both sides had their say.”

Campaign finance board urges tougher economic disclosure rules (MPR News)

A proposal backed by the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board would require officials to make public their consulting interests and details about income earned by their spouses.

Red Wing mayor takes second job as sand industry lobbyist (Star Tribune)

Mayor Dennis Egan’s new role triggers “consternation in his hometown as it begins considering a position in the sand-mining debate at the State Capitol. Egan says he sees no conflict of interest and won’t step down.”

Legislature to consider funding more free school lunches (MPR News)

Supporters say expanding the free lunch program would ensure low-income students have the nutrition they need to learn in school. But the $4 million annual cost has sparked criticism that it relieves parents of responsibility.

Dayton trying to keep ‘Obamacare’ from swallowing MinnesotaCare

“The state does not want to transfer nearly 100,000 patients from MinnesotaCare to the less-affordable federal health insurance exchanges that are part of President Obama’s landmark health care overhaul.”

Health reform could save $168M in charity care (Pioneer Press)

The federal health law should slash the need for charity care and other uncompensated care costs at Minnesota hospitals, according to a state report.

Nation

Postal Service to announce end of Saturday mail (Associated Press)

Bipartisan House plan focusing on gun trafficking (New York Times)

Congress looks to limit drone strikes (CBS News)

CBO: Deficit will fall to less than $1 trillion in 2013, first time in five years (Washington Post)

House GOP: Do immigration bit by bit (Politico)

Obama calls on Congress to avert looming cuts (CBS News)

Auditor issues “no decision” against Ritchie, Lindsey

After an inquiry prompted by complaints from Republican lawmakers, Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles has concluded that Minnesota does not have a clear standard to assess the actions of two state officials accused of using public funds to oppose constitutional amendments on the ballot last November,

Republicans had accused DFL Secretary of State Mark Ritchie of wrongly using his official capacity and public funds to oppose that ballot question. Similar accusations were later leveled against Human Rights Commissioner Kevin Lindsey.

Nobles noted that state law only goes so far on prohibiting certain political activity by public officials and employees. – Tom Scheck