The Daily Digest (Dayton budget defending, public pans tax for online spending; Paulsen Senate talk never-ending?)

Gun hearings continue into their third day at the Capitol today with a focus on bills that would require a permit to buy or own body armor and restrictions on ammo magazines of more than 10 rounds.

State

State of the State: Dayton defends budget plan (MPR News)

In his speech, Gov. Dayton described his tax and budget plan as a way to lift the state out of a miserable cycle of deficits that has shortchanged education and local governments. He also restated his support for same-sex marriage.

Dayton: Tax cuts caused Minn. economic problems (Associated Press)

“Dayton argued past state income tax cuts are partly to blame for chronic budget problems in Minnesota, saying political leaders cannot afford to keep delaying difficult tax and spending decisions.”

Officials find way to preserve MinnesotaCare (Associated Press)

“State and federal officials have come up with a way to preserve Minnesota’s subsidized health care plan for the working poor when the federal health overhaul takes effect.”

Minnesotans opposed to online sales tax (KSTP)

“A SurveyUSA poll found 61 percent of Minnesotans don’t want to pay sales tax on stuff they buy online from out of state, while 32 percent support the proposal.”

Looming cuts wouldn’t hit Minn. as hard as other states (MPR News)

The state ranks 49th in terms of federal dollars spent per resident, which would lessen the impact seen in Minnesota of federal cross-the-board budget cuts scheduled to kick in March 1, observers say.

Ex-Minneapolis chief backs assault weapons ban (Star Tribune)

Assault weapons are “weapons of war” no private citizens should own and should be banned, former Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan told a Legislative committee on Wednesday.

Nation

Minn. lawmakers begin new push to kill medical device tax (Star Tribune)

At CIA nomination hearing, U.S. drone policy in the spotlight (CBS News)

White House: Congress to get classified drone info (NBC News)

Anonymous hits Federal Reserve in hack attack (ABC News)

Obama picks REI stores chief as interior secretary (Washington Post)

Is Paulsen running for Senate or not?

Minnesota U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen’s name has long been floated as a GOP candidate to take on DFL U.S. Sen. Al Franken in 2014. But his plans still aren’t clear. He’s told MPR News he was not interested in running. Shortly after that, he told The Hill newspaper that he hadn’t ruled out challenging Franken.

On Wednesday, University of Minnesota political scientist Larry Jacobs said Paulsen told a student group in Washington, D.C., that he planned to continue representing his suburban Twin Cities district rather than mount a Senate campaign.

That prompted a response from Paulsen’s campaign manager, who said Paulsen is “solely focused on representing the Third District, but has not ruled anything out related to 2014.” – Brett Neely