Expect to see many Republican campaign ads using these findings: An independent consultant has issued a damning report of the state’s troubled online insurance marketplace. MNsure’s management structure is “non-existent” and MNsure executives have been making decisions in a “crisis mode,” the report states.
The report found the agency’s ambitious enrollment goals will suffer as a result. The analysis says those problems won’t be fixed quickly and the options the state should consider include scrapping the system altogether and starting over. (MPR News
Internal financial reports show the Archdiocese of Minneapolis and St. Paul used stealth accounts to pay nearly $11 million from 2002 to 2011 — about 3 percent of overall archdiocese revenues in those years — for costs tied to clergy misconduct. (MPR News)
Several hundred opponents of abortion crowded into the state Capitol rotunda Wednesday on the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision to rededicate themselves to fighting for restrictions on the procedure, including a ban on taxpayer-funded abortions and licensing and inspection rules for abortion clinics. (Star Tribune)
The lawyer for a former Republican state legislator urged a judge today to block the construction of a new legislative office building on constitutional grounds. Former Rep. Jim Knoblach’s lawsuit contends lawmakers violated the state constitution last year when they approved the financing for the building as part of a larger tax bill. (MPR News)
DFL state Rep. Steve Simon announced that his campaign for Secretary of State raised over $137,000 in 2013 and has over $110,000 cash on hand.
The message many Iron Range community leaders and residents brought to a public hearing Wednesday night on PolyMet’s proposed copper-nickel mine was clear: We want this project in our backyard. (MPR News)
The top Republican in the Minnesota House broke his silence about a run-in with the law in Montana last year by saying that he was never trying to hide anything. House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt declined repeated interview requests for a week and a half after revealing that he was stopped by police in during a truck-buying trip to Montana in September. (MPR News)
In Congress/National Politics
An independent executive branch board has concluded that the National Security Agency’s long-running program to collect billions of Americans’ phone records is illegal and should end. (Washington Post)
Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew warned Congress on Wednesday that the government would most likely exhaust its ability to borrow in late February, setting up the latest fiscal showdown earlier than Republican leaders anticipated. (New York Times)
A bipartisan panel created by President Obama after many voters waited hours to cast ballots in 2012 on Wednesday recommended ways to keep delays to no more than a half-hour. But changes are up to the states and 8,000 local jurisdictions, where voting laws have been a partisan battleground since the 2000 presidential recount. (New York Times)
U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson still hasn’t said whether he’s running for office again, but the money race in the 7th District he represents is heating up. Torrey Westrom, the Republican state senator who wants to unseat the long-serving Peterson, reported Wednesday that his campaign raised $84,000 within a month of announcing his bid. (MPR News)
Meanwhile, citing Westrom’s entry into the race and the retirement of several other conservative Democrats, the Rothenberg Political Report changed its rating of the 7th District race from “Safe Democrat” to “Lean Democrat.” (Roll Call)
Here’s some food for thought: The media narrative about political dysfunction suggests its politicians who are pushing extreme agendas. Not so says one researcher. “On many issues, much of the public appears to support more extreme policies than legislators do.” (Washington Post)
On that note: A Washington, D.C.-based liberal group, Americans United for Change, is launching a campaign that seeks to link Republican U.S. Reps. Erik Paulsen and John Kline to the Tea Party.
The group argues that Paulsen voted with the Tea Party 83 percent of the time in 2013 while Kline’s loyalty score was slightly lower at 79 percent – and that their voting tendencies don’t differ much from U.S. Rep.Michele Bachmann, founder of the congressional Tea Party caucus. (Star Tribune)