Good morning and welcome to Wednesday. Here’s the Digest.
1. Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt says he’s exploring whether lawmakers can reject a recently approved $14,000 raise slated to take effect in July. The Legislature’s first raise since 1999 was set in motion last week by the Legislative Salary Council, which voters overwhelmingly approved last November to remove lawmakers’ responsibility of setting their own pay. Daudt said Tuesday he’d seek legal advice to see if the Legislature can opt out. (MPR News)
2. A bill to give off-duty police officers power to carry guns in places where other people can’t awaits final action by the Minnesota Legislature. The proposal that cleared a Senate committee Tuesday is being pushed by police unions. But the bill has raised some alarm, including from the Minnesota Vikings. (MPR News)
3. Gov. Mark Dayton joined in the chorus of Democrats criticizing the Republican plan to replace the Affordable Care Act. Dayton cited Monday’s assessment by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office that 14 million Americans could immediately lose coverage under the act. “Greater Minnesota would be hit the hardest, because the Republican tax credit does not recognize that healthcare costs more in some parts of our state,” Dayton said in a statement. The governor also criticized the proposal to change Medicaid from a program where the federal government pays a percentage of all costs to fixed block grants to states. Dayton’s Department of Human Services estimates that could cost Minnesota billions of dollars. (Pioneer Press)
4. Minnesota lawmakers have derailed legislation to give the state Department of Agriculture authority over seeds treated with neonicotinoid insecticides that are widely used on corn and soybean crops. Research has shown the insecticide can harm bees when dust is released during planting. The federal Environmental Protection Agency does not consider the treated seeds subject to regulation. But as part of a pollinator plan announced last fall, Minnesota agriculture officials sought authority to regulate the seeds. Committees in the House and Senate stripped the language from legislation. (MPR News)
5. The White House said Tuesday night that President Donald Trump paid $38 million in federal income tax on more than $150 million in income for 2005 after MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” said it would release the numbers. The show had two pages of what it said were Trump’s 1040 form that a journalist said were anonymously mailed to him. In a statement, the White House said the “illegally published” pages proved only that Trump “was one of the most successful businessmen in the world with a responsibility to his company, his family and his employees to pay no more tax than legally required.” In a tweet Wednesday morning Trump called the st0ry “fake news.” He was the first major-party nominee since the 1970s to refuse to release his tax returns. (NBC News)