Good morning, and welcome to Thursday. He said he was going to do it, and he did. Here’s the Digest.

1. Dayton vetoed the tax and budget bills. DFL Gov. Mark Dayton on Tuesday vetoed the tax and budget bills that included the main work of the Republican-led Legislature and vowed he would not call a special session to work things out, saying, “They had their chance.” While the bills contained proposals supported by Democrats and Republicans, Dayton days earlier had telegraphed the problems he had with the legislation. Just a few hours before the midnight Sunday deadline for bills to pass, Dayton dashed Republican hopes that there was enough to like in tax and budget bills. He renewed those criticisms Wednesday after the vetoes.  He described the budget bill as “not meant to be something I could sign. It was meant to be something they (Republicans) could take around the state.” The tax legislation, he added was “skewed to big corporations and wealthy people, and it was unacceptable.” The budget bill would have used money from the state surplus to help boost school security, take steps to attack the opioid epidemic, begin addressing problems with the elder care system and more. (MPR News)

2. Republican reaction was swift and harsh. “I actually think there’s no bill the governor would sign,” Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt said, referring to Dayton’s broad opposition to Republicans’ tax and spending proposals. “This session wasn’t a failure. Our governor was a failure.” Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, took a more reserved approach, but he expressed similar frustration.  “The veto of these bills is bad for Minnesota,” Gazelka said, later adding: “I think we all need to learn to work better together.” (Pioneer Press)

3.  Teacher removed from board after online comment about President Trump. A 2015 Teacher of the Year from St. Paul schools lost her spot on a new teacher licensing board because she insulted President Donald Trump, using a raw expletive, in a social media post. “He is not worthy, nor are his puppet masters, of human dignity,” reads the Jan. 12 Facebook post of Amy Hewett-Olatunde. “He is the s***hole and we should line up to take a dump on him.” The comment was attached to a news article about remarks attributed to Trump earlier this year in which he questioned why the U.S. would accept more immigrants from Haiti and “s***hole countries” in Africa.  State Sen. Paul Utke, R-Park Rapids, read the post on the Senate floor this past weekend as Hewett-Olatunde’s nomination for a spot on the Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board was considered. “That’s the kind of stuff that really bothered me,” Utke said, supporting a request by colleague Sen. Eric Pratt, R-Prior Lake, not to confirm Hewett-Olatunde.  At first, Hewett-Olatunde was confirmed to the board with a narrow 34-33 vote, with nearly all GOP senators in opposition. State Sen. Carla Nelson, R-Rochester, who chairs the Senate education finance committee, was the lone Republican to support Hewett-Olatunde’s nomination. It wouldn’t last. Nelson later told her colleagues that her vote was a mistake because she was distracted. Nelson asked the Senate to reconsider the confirmation, something senators on the winning side of a vote can do. Hewett-Olatunde’s nomination was then defeated 33-34. (Pioneer Press)

4. Gillibrand stands by call for Franken to resign. New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who was the first of Al Franken’s Democratic colleagues to call for his resignation late last year amid mounting accusations of improper behavior toward women, defended her decision to do so at a forum Tuesday night on women in politics. Gillibrand said publicly asking Franken to resign “was a very hard and difficult thing because yes, he is our friend, we admire him, we thought he did a great job as senator, particularly on the Judiciary Committee. But with eight credible allegations of groping and harassment, staying silent was not an option for me anymore, and each time I stayed silent and said nothing, each time I did not stand up and say it’s not OK — just enough was enough.” Gillibrand’s call in early December for Franken’s resignation was quickly echoed by more than a dozen of her Democratic colleagues; Franken announced his decision to step down a day later. That sequence of events has continued to reverberate in Minnesota and national Democratic politics; Gillibrand has faced criticism from some prominent Democratic donors. (Star Tribune)

5. Fox News contributor gets hit with water in Minneapolis. Conservative commentator Tomi Lahren says she is disheartened and embarrassed but not broken after a patron threw water on her at a Minneapolis restaurant. The Fox News contributor told the channel’s “Fox & Friends” Wednesday that she was eating Sunday brunch with her parents when a group of people “thought it would be funny to throw water at” her and chant profanities. Lahren says people don’t have to like or agree with her, but that they “don’t have the right to throw things” at her. She insists she is “tough” and “can handle it.” President Trump tweeted in support of Lahren, calling her “a truly outstanding and respected young woman!” Minneapolis police spokesman John Elder said Wednesday that no one has reported the incident. (AP)

Barring big news, the Digest will take tomorrow and Monday off. 

Good morning, and happy Wednesday. Here’s the Digest.

1. Groundwater protection rule could be delayed. The GOP-controlled Legislature sent Gov. Mark Dayton an agriculture policy bill just as the Legislative session was ending. The House and Senate agriculture committees followed up with some additional pressure: If the governor didn’t sign the bill, the committees said, they might invoke an obscure 2001 law that allows the Legislature to halt executive-branch rulemaking. Dayton vetoed the ag policy bill on Monday. And now, lawmakers are moving toward delaying his agriculture department’s groundwater protection rule, which establishes voluntary and mandatory farming practices in areas of the state where nitrate contamination is a problem. The whole thing is leaving those who’ve been pushing for tougher water quality regulations feeling disgusted. “The pettiness is just too much to take anymore,” said Tim Figge, who lives in Hastings, Minn., and had to install a reverse-osmosis water treatment system at his home after high levels of nitrates crept into underground aquifers. “It’s something that should be talked about from strictly a public health point of view.”

2. Backers of fee on drug companies urge Dayton to veto budget bill. Supporters of legislation that would have charged pharmaceutical companies a fee to address opioid abuse condemned Tuesday what they described as a backroom lobbying campaign to kill the legislation. “In the end, Big Pharma, their army of lobbyists, and the chamber and Medical Alley won,” said state Sen. Chris Eaton, DFL-Brooklyn Center. “The victims, their families, the people currently addicted and the Minnesota taxpayers lost — and I’m angry and sad.” The bill that included the fee passed the state Senate 60-6, and would have raised $20 million in licensing fees from pharmaceutical companies every year. But that fee failed to make it into the final budget bill, replaced by $16 million from the state general fund. State House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, said said the final version of the budget bill included “funds for St. Gabriel’s for opioid addiction prevention, enhancements to the Prescription Monitoring Program to prevent doctor shopping and over-prescribing, [a] prescribing limit to reduce the number of pills on the street, and resources for first-responders dealing with overdoses.” Eaton, whose daughter Ariel died of an overdose in 2007, said she’s urged the governor to veto the budget bill. She said “taxpayers have paid enough” of the costs associated with the opioid epidemic. (MPR News)

3. Deputy registrars are hurting. When Minnesota’s new vehicle licensing and registration system, MNLARS, was first rolled out last summer, Donny Vosen had a pretty good business going. Vosen is a deputy registrar, and runs a licensing office in Brainerd. He had a staff of 15 and a healthy profit margin. Now, less than a year later, one-third of his staff has quit, and another third had to seek medical attention for stress-related illnesses. “This is an epic disaster for the state of Minnesota to have done this,” said Vosen, who said he’s lost nearly $100,000 since the faulty rollout of MNLARS. “Untested, unpiloted. And we kept telling them, this isn’t working, this isn’t working, this isn’t working. They did not listen.” Gov. Dayton vetoed a bill that would have spent $9 million to reimburse deputy registrars for some of those losses, saying in his veto letter that he fully supports reimbursing deputy registrars for the losses they’ve incurred, but he won’t sign a bill that doesn’t also pay for fixing the MNLARS system. There are several million dollars in a sweeping budget bill before the governor, but he’s also threatened to veto that. (MPR News)

4. After veto, protest blocks LRT. Eighteen people were arrested at an immigration protest that shut down the Blue Line light-rail line Tuesday morning, forcing passengers to be shuttled on buses between 46th Street and Terminal 2 at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. A dozen people demanding an end to deportations sat on the tracks, blocking the train, near the Whipple Federal Building at Fort Snelling until they were arrested. Afterward six more sat down, and were likewise arrested. All of them were charged with two misdemeanor counts of interference with transit and trespassing. About 130 people in all were involved in the protest, organized by the Poor People’s Campaign and Minnesota Immigrations Rights Action Committee. Four of the arrested were ministers, three of them from Unitarian congregations.  The demonstration was denounced Tuesday by Rep. Nick Zerwas, R-Elk River, who authored legislation that would result in more serious charges for the blocking of thoroughfares. The latest effort was vetoed by Gov. Mark Dayton, who called the legislation’s wording too vague. “Today’s protest is the latest example of why we need increased penalties for those who choose to put the public at risk by blocking highways, the airport, or access to transit,” Zerwas said in a statement. (Star Tribune)

5. How’s the business climate? A week after one of Minnesota’s Fortune 500 companies announced it was moving out of state, the business magazine released its annual ranking and showed two of the state’s firms rising onto the list. The additions of St. Paul-based Securian Financial and Plymouth-based Polaris Industries bring the total number of Minnesota-based firms in the Fortune 500 to 19. Those 19 include Mosaic Co., which announced last week it will move its headquarters from Plymouth to Tampa, Fla., though it did not specify timing. But they don’t include some giant Minnesota firms. Fortune ranks companies by revenue, chiefly focused on publicly traded firms while also counting cooperatives and some privately held companies that disclose their financial performance to the Securities and Exchange Commission. For instance, the magazine doesn’t include Cargill Inc., the Wayzata-based agricultural trader and processor that has about $120 billion in annual revenue, but it does include agricultural co-ops CHS and Land O’Lakes, both based in the Twin Cities. And Securian, while not publicly traded, files performance documents with the SEC. (Star Tribune)

 

Good morning, and happy Tuesday. Here’s the Digest.

1. The battle over the narrative of the session is just beginning. You’ll hear a lot of this from Minnesota Republicans in coming days. Here’s House Speaker Kurt Daudt. “This was a long legislative session where we accomplished some really important things. And today begins the pressure on our governor to do what’s right and sign these bills.” And you’ll hear a lot of this from Democrats, such as House Minority Leader Melissa Hortman. “The reason why this legislative session will wind up in a heap of ashes, likely, is because of the Republicans’ decision to put everything in the last week and to not engage in any meaningful compromise with the governor.” As Gov. Dayton prepares to make decisions on the bills passed in the closing days of the session, Republicans went into full lobby mode. They brought out regular Minnesotans who have much to gain — or lose — depending on how it all shakes out. Kent Edwards was there on behalf of his mother, who died last year in a senior care center. Edwards says the budget bill includes vital accountability measures around elder abuse. “Not everything we want and need is in this bill. But it’s a start and a start in the right direction.” (MPR News)

2. Some say elder care fixes fall short. In a blow to Gov. Mark Dayton and families of elder abuse victims, the 2018 Legislature adjourned without adopting a series of broad-based reforms to Minnesota’s flawed system for protecting vulnerable seniors from maltreatment. Weeks of intense negotiation involving the Dayton administration, Republican legislators and a coalition of senior organizations over a bipartisan deal collapsed over the weekend, leaving few new protections for the estimated 85,000 Minnesotans who live in senior care facilities across the state. All the major reforms sought by Dayton, including a licensing framework for the state’s fast-growing assisted-living industry and protections against arbitrary evictions, failed to survive the legislative gantlet and stiff opposition from the nursing home industry. Instead, legislators adopted several modest provisions that delay reform and, in some cases, actually weaken senior protections, elder advocates said. These provisions were included in the Legislature’s budget bill, which Dayton has pledged to veto. “This was a train wreck,” said Kristine Sundberg, president of Elder Voice Family Advocates, a coalition of relatives of abuse victims. (Star Tribune)

3. Money for schools is still a question mark. School leaders are in wait-and-see mode after the end of the legislative session. Several wide-ranging bills include one-time funds for school district safety improvements and other uses, but the bills have also drawn a veto threat from Gov. Mark Dayton. Tax and spending bills passed over the weekend would set aside $50 million that districts could use for any purpose, and about $20 million for school safety improvements. There is also money for other safety-related items like mental health programs, security audits and school police officer training. Minnesota School Boards Association director Kirk Schneidawind said schools need the funds, although advocates had hoped for $138 million in one-time school money Dayton proposed earlier this month. “The [bill] provides districts flexibility, there’s no question about it, but the dollar amounts — it’s a difference,” Schneidawind said. (MPR News)

4. Colleges and universities get money for construction but not as much as they wanted. At session’s end, it appears that money for capital improvements at the state’s college and university systems came through, but at less than half of what colleges and universities originally requested. Inside the $825 million bonding bill passed by the state Legislature, there’s around $208 million for construction, renovation and maintenance for public higher education systems — $129 million for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system and about $79 million for the University of Minnesota. The biggest gap between what the Legislature approved and what schools wanted was in Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement, a pool that pays for maintenance projects on buildings and infrastructure. Each system received $45 million for maintenance — that’s $85 million less than the Minnesota State requested, and about a third of what the U of M system hoped for. “Any support is always appreciated,” said Matt Kramer, University of Minnesota’s vice president for university and government relations. (MPR News)

5. Otto says she’s trying to make history with running mate choice. State Auditor Rebecca Otto on Monday named her running mate in her bid for the DFL endorsement in this year’s gubernatorial race. Zarina Baber is an information technology and management consultant and a human rights advocate. She lives in Andover. Otto said Baber would be the first Muslim woman in American history to hold a statewide office. “She understands how we could transform lives in Minnesota,” the three-term Democrat said as she introduced Baber at the State Office Building in St. Paul. “We’re going to work to renew Minnesota, and I have someone who is tried, tested and true, and is a bold leader as well.” Baber grew up in Hyderabad, India, and has been in the U.S. since 1976. She said she got her start in politics working as a volunteer for the campaign of former Minnesota DFL U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone. (MPR News)