Daily Digest: Health care hangups

Good morning and welcome to Wednesday. We’ll broadcast President-elect Trump’s press conference this morning at 10 on MPR News. Until then, there’s the Digest.

1. A number of committees at the Minnesota Capitol began looking at the plans to offer rebates to people facing big premium spikes for health insurance bought on the individual market. With a Jan. 31 deadline to buy coverage fast approaching, Republicans who control the House and Senate still hope to move quickly. But a number of hurdles because apparent Tuesday. (MPR News)

2. University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler is asking for a 12 percent increase in state funding for the next two years. Kaler laid out details of the $147 million budget request at the Capitol Tuesday, saying he wanted to switch gears from the scandal involving the Gopher football team. The money would go for research, to hold down tuition and for programs. “I want to assure you, and members of the Legislature and all Minnesotans that no state funds and no tuition dollars will be used to cover the cost of our coaching transition,” Kaler said. “The buyouts and the salaries are a lot of money,” he added. “It’s sad to say that is the cost of doing business in a big-time collegiate athletic department.” (Star Tribune)

3. The food served to guests in the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority’s suites in U.S. Bank Stadium added up to more than $32,000. House Government Finance Committee Chairwoman Sarah Anderson, R-Plymouth, said she will seek reimbursement. Most of the guests in the suites were friends and family members of Authority officials. (Star Tribune)

4. President-elect Trump’s pick for Attorney General called accusations that he is racist “damnably false charges.” Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama underwent questioning by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, including Minnesota Democrats Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar. Sessions acknowledged that waterboarding is illegal, he agreed that some of the things Trump talked about in that infamous “Access Hollywood” tape constitute sexual assault, and said he would recuse himself from any legal action against Hillary Clinton. He also said he would not support a move to require Muslims to register with the government. Under tough questioning from Franken he acknowledged that in the past he exaggerated the number of civil rights cases he filed when he was a U.S. Attorney. (Politico)

5. A day before his first scheduled press conference since the election, President-elect Trump faced a new controversy involving Russia. CNN reported that part of the classified briefing given to Trump and President Obama by U.S. spy agencies included unconfirmed reports that Russia had embarrassing personal and financial information about Trump that it had been gathering over the course of years.  According to the CNN story, the briefing also included allegations that there was a continuing exchange of information during the campaign between Trump surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government. On Twitter, Trump called the report fake news and a political witch hunt. (CNN)

6. In a speech billed as his farewell address President Barack Obama defended his legacy and called for people to get involved in politics if they want change. He once again pledged to ensure a smooth transition even as he pointed out his disagreements with Donald Trump. One of the more memorable lines: “If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the internet, try to talk with one in real life. ” (AP)