Good morning and happy Friday, which is supposed to be unusually warm for this time of year. Sounds good to me. Here’s the Digest.
1. Sen. Amy Klobuchar and a group of fellow U.S. senators are proposing stronger disclosure rules for paid political ads on sites like Facebook, Google and Twitter, in an effort to prevent covert foreign influence of American elections. The legislation they unveiled Thursday follows revelations that Russian interests purchased online ads during the 2016 presidential campaign, which are not subject to the same disclosure requirements of radio and TV ads. It’s a loophole that’s grown wider as more voters primarily get information online, and the senators said they would push to enact a law before the 2018 midterm elections. (Star Tribune)
2. Immigration and Customs Enforcement wants space for hundreds of additional jail cells, and is sending a request for information that identifies the four cities it’s looking at: Chicago, Detroit, Salt Lake City and St. Paul. When asked, an ICE spokesman did not say why St. Paul was on the list. ICE is using six county jails across Minnesota to hold people without legal status. The Sherburne County Sheriff’s website says most of its 697 jail cells are rented to the federal government. Traditionally, three county jails have contracted with ICE. That has since expanded to facilities in Grand Forks, Worthington, Willmar and other places that have not traditionally held immigration detainees. (KSTP TV)
3. Minnesota Housing is investing $126 million in affordable housing to address the statewide shortage. The investment announced Thursday is part of a larger $346 million package of public and private funding. The money will go to building or preserving more than 1,800 housing units in communities throughout the state. Commissioner Mary Tingerthal said the state’s current housing crisis is one of the worst in recent years. “The cost of housing is going up faster than people’s incomes,” she said. “We’re seeing a shortage of low-cost homes for sale for first-time home buyers and we’re losing affordable rental properties at a pretty rapid pace.” (MPR News)
4. One of Minnesota’s biggest health insurers is catching flak from Gov. Mark Dayton and consumer advocates for transferring $120 million from its nonprofit Minnesota HMO to other operations, including a for-profit insurance unit. Medica Health Plans transferred the money this month to shore up the finances of its for-profit and Wisconsin insurance businesses, using reserves from its nonprofit HMO. The move is also reigniting a debate about the role of Minnesota’s nonprofit health plans. Earlier this year, the Legislature allowed for-profit HMOs to operate in Minnesota for the first time in 40 years and made it easier for HMOs to transfer reserves. (Star Tribune)
5. One week before public hearings begin on Minnesota’s proposed new rules for protecting wild rice from sulfate pollution, the state’s mining industry, Steelworkers and Iron Range officials and activists are restating their fervent opposition. Critics say the new rule could cause increased regulation for taconite iron ore processing operations and some municipal sewage treatment plants. If the new rules are applied and enforced, critics say it could cost millions of dollars for the mining companies to comply, spurring mine shutdowns and layoffs. (Pioneer Press)
6. If Tim Pawlenty does decide to try a comeback and run for governor he’ll be fighting a historical headwind. Democrat Rudy Perpich is the only governor in state history to return to office. A handful of others have attempted to return to power, only to fall short: Republican J.A.A. Burnquist in 1930 (lost primary), Farmer Laborite Hjalmar Petersen in 1940 and 1942 (lost general), 1946 (lost Republican primary), and 1950 (lost DFL primary), and Republican Harold Stassen in 1980 (lost primary). But while Minnesota does not have a rich history of reelecting ex-governors, such feats have occurred dozens of times throughout U.S. history – although just three times thus far in the 21st Century. All three occurred during the 2010 cycle: Democrat Jerry Brown of California, Republican Terry Branstad of Iowa, and Democrat John Kitzhaber of Oregon. (Smart Politics)