Daily Digest: Legislature goes to court

Good morning, and happy Flag Day. It’s been a busy 24 hours, so let’s go right to the Digest.

1. Republican legislative leaders filed suit against Gov. Mark Dayton Tuesday over his veto of funding for the House and Senate for the next two years. The move came after a morning meeting where both sides said no progress had been made. Dayton used his line-item veto authority late last month in an effort to bring Republicans back to the negotiating table on five provisions in bills he signed after lawmakers adjourned their special session. House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Zimmerman, said the GOP leaders would not renegotiate bills the DFL governor has already signed. (MPR News)

2. The Legislature says it needs a court to restore its funding by July 1st or there will be dire consequences. In its lawsuit the Republican-controlled branch of state government points to hundreds of staff and the state’s prized credit rating as potential victims. It would be business as usual in the House for at least two months, said House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Zimmerman, but after that he’s hinting at layoffs if the dispute drags on. “This isn’t just a political game that just might affect a few politicians,” he said. “This affects our employees and their families, and ultimately could affect all Minnesotans.” The House has about 230 full-time staff plus others who come aboard during the legislative sessions. That’s on top of the 134 elected members. The Senate employs 205 full-time staff along with its 67 members. (MPR News)

3. One of the items Dayton wants to renegotiate is a new licensing system for Minnesota teachers, which is set to take effect next summer. The changes put more control in the hands of school districts and aim to address problems identified in a critical legislative audit last year. The audit called Minnesota’s current licensing system “broken,” citing confusing requirements and uneven standards for in- and out-of-state candidates.  The new system provides for four tiers of licenses. Teachers with fewer qualifications get licensed at a lower tier, where licenses expire more quickly and are apt to have limited renewals. Higher qualifications lead to a higher tier. (MPR News)

4. The Hennepin and Ramsey County Boards Tuesday each raised their sales tax by a quarter cent to pay for transit projects.  In Hennepin County alone, it’s expected to bring in an additional $65 million dollars a year. Commissioner Peter McLaughlin says the money will help pay the local share of operating the existing Blue and Green light rail lines, plus future projects: Those include the Green Line extension to Eden Prairie, the Bottineau LRT, and a bus rapid transit service along Interstate 35W. In Ramsey County the money is expected cover part of the operating costs of the Green Line, plus future construction expenses. The county aims to set up bus rapid transit from downtown St. Paul to Woodbury and a transit line from Union Depot to the Mall of America. (MPR News)

5. The candidates for mayor of St. Paul on Tuesday held their last forum before this weekend’s DFL endorsing convention. The event was hosted by a handful of organizations including St. Paul Federation of Teachers, TakeAction and the Service Employees International Union. The attendees quizzed candidates on social issues, like how they would protect immigrants. The candidates said they would raise the minimum wage, fight poverty and address climate change. (Star Tribune)

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