Good morning and welcome Friday. Here’s the Digest.

1.  Guns become an issue in the DFL governor campaign. The mass shooting at a Florida high school Wednesday laid bare what has been a simmering divide as candidates combined their condolences with calls to action. State Rep. Erin Murphy, a former House majority leader from St. Paul, went the furthest. She outlined a six-point plan that includes limits on sales of certain ammunition, expanded background checks and a ban on sales of AR-15 rifles in Minnesota. She spoke proudly of the failing grade she received from the National Rifle Association for her past votes and positions on gun legislation, a not-so-subtle criticism of the race frontrunner, Tim Walz. The Democratic congressman has touted his support from the NRA in prior campaigns, donning a camouflaged NRA hat while running in a southern Minnesota district filled with rural towns. “I do have an ‘F’ rating. He has an ‘A+’ rating,” Murphy said of Walz during a telephone interview Thursday. “That means he’s done their work plus the extra credit to get the plus. Minnesotans will have to judge for themselves what that means for Minnesota and their future. I think it’s important to draw the contrast.” Walz, an avid hunter, defended his record and said he hasn’t been shy about breaking with the lobby for gun manufacturers and owners. (MPR News)

2. A deep dive into Tim Pawlenty’s record as CEO of the Financial Services Roundtable.  If the last year has been any indication, Pawlenty’s efforts have paid off: as he exits the the organization that lobbies in D.C. on behalf of the country’s largest and most powerful banks and financial institutions. Wall Street is celebrating passage of a sweeping GOP tax cut, as well as efforts from President Donald Trump’s White House and the Republican-led Congress to repeal or undermine regulations put into place by Democrats. Those efforts have also paid off for Pawlenty: as CEO, he earned a salary of over $2.7 million in 2016 — his best compensation yet — and was paid an average of $2.2 million per year during his prior three years at FSR. As Pawlenty begins to seriously explore a repeat run for the governor’s mansion, his work at the FSR will be a point of focus for his supporters — as well as his rivals in the GOP and Democratic camps. (MinnPost)

3. St. Paul teachers didn’t get everything they wanted in contract offer. St. Paul teachers’ new tentative contract agreement, the details of which were released Thursday afternoon, would increase support staffing for some students and boost teacher wages, but it leaves many of the demands union leaders pushed for at the bargaining table unfulfilled.  The two-year tentative agreement that union and district leaders reached Monday gives teachers a 1 percent pay increase each year on top of scheduled raises for years of experience and education. District and union leaders agreed those raises will only apply to the second half of this year, rather than the entire year. That move saved the district just over $1 million, according to district human resources director Laurin Cathey. With the savings, district leaders agreed to add 30 teachers for students learning English. The contract agreement would also add 23 paraprofessionals for special education students. The agreement does not include the lowered limits on class sizes teachers had sought. Instead, it would raise allowable average sizes for middle and high school classes while setting an upper limit on the number of students in any one class. Union members are set to vote on the offer next week. (MPR News)

4. Minneapolis public official pay raise was deliberately kept quiet for months. The $10,000 mayoral and City Council salary increases approved in December by the Minneapolis City Council had been in the works for six months and were signed off on by then mayor-elect Jacob Frey 10 days before the vote. The pay hike was also intentionally kept off of the public agenda at the request of then Council President Barb Johnson, in her final days in office. Johnson first broached the subject with city staff as early as June, floated a $5,000 increase for City Council salaries, and asked for research comparing salaries of council members in Minneapolis to those in other cities, according to emails obtained from the city by a Minneapolis taxpayer through a public records request. (Star Tribune)

5. Tobacco use is up among kids because of vaping. The embrace of e-cigarettes and vaping by Minnesota youth is reversing the state’s long-term trend of declining teen tobacco use, the Minnesota Health Department said Thursday. Minnesota youth tobacco use is rising for the first time in 17 years, with 26 percent of high school students using some form of tobacco or nicotine, up from 24 percent in 2014, the agency said as it released its annual survey on young people and tobacco. Youth e-cigarette use is up 50 percent since 2014, the agency said. E-cigarettes “threaten to reverse our success in preventing youth from using tobacco products,” Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said in a statement. The tobacco industry, she added, has “responded with new products designed to get youth addicted to nicotine.” (MPR News)

NOTE: The Digest is going to take Monday off to celebrate President’s Day, but I will be talking to legislative leaders on the radio Monday at 11 a.m. to preview the start of the session on Tuesday. I hope you can tune in.

Democrats vying for Minnesota governor are approaching the issue of gun laws in different ways, a split important to both their endorsement contest and the general election campaign that comes later.

The mass shooting at a Florida high school Wednesday laid bare what has been a simmering divide as candidates combined their condolences with calls to action.

State Rep. Erin Murphy, a former House majority leader from St. Paul, went the furthest. She outlined a six-point plan that includes limits on sales of certain ammunition, expanded background checks and a ban on sales of AR-15 rifles in Minnesota.

“The AR-15 was used in the Sandy Hook shooting, in the Pulse night club in Orlando, in the church in Texas, in Las Vegas and now in a classroom in Florida,” Murphy said. “It seems to me this is becoming a weapon of choice for mass shootings like this and they are creating mass casualties.”

She spoke proudly of the failing grade she received from the National Rifle Association for her past votes and positions on gun legislation, a not-so-subtle criticism of the race frontrunner, Tim Walz. The Democratic congressman has touted his support from the NRA in prior campaigns, donning a camouflaged NRA hat while running in a southern Minnesota district filled with rural towns.

“I do have an ‘F’ rating. He has an ‘A+’ rating,” Murphy said of Walz during a telephone interview Thursday. “That means he’s done their work plus the extra credit to get the plus. Minnesotans will have to judge for themselves what that means for Minnesota and their future. I think it’s important to draw the contrast.”

Walz, an avid hunter, defended his record and said he hasn’t been shy about breaking with the lobby for gun manufacturers and owners.

“I have voted for universal background checks more than anybody in this race,” Walz said. He said he has never personally been an NRA member and voted more than 30 times to bring up a background check measure “and not just since I’ve been running for governor but for the past several years.”

Walz said he has donated the equivalent of past contributions from the NRA to charity. Records show he and a political fund he controls received $18,000 over the years; recent campaign reports show him directing the money to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.

But, he added, “I’m also not going to shy away that I have been a staunch supporter of the constitutional right of law abiding and lawful gun owners to own firearms.”

Walz said the conversation about gun laws needs to change or there won’t be progress in the effort to reduce gun violence. He said Thursday that the sides in the gun debate have been too suspicious of the other’s motive to come to any agreement on possible solutions. He wants the debate to include a discussion of mental health treatment.

State Auditor Rebecca Otto, who finished second to Walz in a recent precinct caucus preference poll, wasn’t available for an interview Thursday. Otto’s website includes a paragraph about her stance toward guns that reads, in part, “cities should be able to set their own common sense gun laws, that we should research gun violence as a public health issue so that we can develop strategies to solve the problem based on hard evidence, and that reasonable safety standards are not too much to expect.”

State Rep. Tina Liebling, DFL-Rochester, said she supports changes to background checks and would be open to restrictions of assault-style rifles. In addition, Liebling said Minnesota should revisit laws that have reduced the ability of law enforcement to deny or revoke gun permits for people in crisis.

“What we’ve done in Minnesota is take a lot of discretion away from our local law enforcement officers. They often know who is having a crisis and should not be able to have a gun,” Liebling said. “We need to use their expertise and give them more discretion.”

In discussing the gun issue during an interview Thursday, Liebling leveled indirect criticism at Murphy, who was in legislative leadership when Democrats controlled the House, Senate and governor’s office.

“When Democrats were in charge in the House of Representatives we had a bill move through committee and even our own leadership would not bring it to the floor of the House of Representatives,” she said. “We need to have some courage of our convictions and move forward on this. I think the public is demanding it.”

Of Walz’s stance on guns , Liebling said, voters are “going to have to make their own decision about whether that’s a sincere conversion. We know the gun lobby is really good at putting pressure on politicians. Whether he would stand up to that pressure, I don’t know.”

The eventual DFL nominee is sure to encounter a Republican nominee resistant to new restrictions in gun laws. Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, the leader in the chase for the GOP endorsement, calls the Second Amendment “unequivocal” on the issue section of his website.

“Self-defense is a fundamental individual right and creating new `gun control’ restrictions on law-abiding citizens will only leave guns in the hands of criminals,” Johnson’s campaign page says.

Both Johnson and his chief rival for the party backing, former GOP chairman Keith Downey, have a 93 percent lifetime rating from the NRA, which translates into an A-minus. Possible candidate Tim Pawlenty, the former two-term governor, has a straight A.

MPR News reporter Tim Nelson contributed to this report

City leaders in rural Minnesota say they want a boost in state aid during the 2018 legislative session, which begins Tuesday.

The Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities (CGMC) outlined a proposal Thursday for a permanent $30.5 million increase in the funding known as Local Government Aid or LGA.

Bradley Peterson, the coalition’s executive director, said the proposed increase would bring LGA back to its 2002 level. Peterson said he’s concerned that lawmakers will “rest on their laurels” after a $15 million increase in LGA last session.

“Since we know the legislature will be doing a tax bill and that there will be likely some surplus, we need to keep moving forward on progress for Local Government Aid,” Peterson said.

Granite Falls Mayor Dave Smiglewski, the president of CGMC, said his city put off many important equipment purchase in recent years because LGA was not keeping pace with rising costs.

“We’re really trying to catch up and get back to where we were, like every city in Minnesota,” Smiglewski said.

The coalition is also pushing for a bonding bill that includes $167 million to help cities upgrade drinking water and wastewater facilities. Another $50 million proposal would assist small cities repair streets.

In addition, CGMC is calling on lawmakers to address the growing child care shortage in rural areas. The group is backing a proposal that would distribute funding for child care through regional initiative foundations.

John Radermacher, the city administrator in Little Falls, said the lack of child care options has become a problem for employers seeking workers.

“We see it as an economic development issue for us,” Radermacher said. “People who have families and pre-school aged children, they’re going to need a place to take those kids.”