Good morning and welcome to Wednesday. Here’s the Digest.
1. House and Senate Republicans have big differences to resolve with DFL Gov. Mark Dayton on how much to spend and how much to give back in tax cuts over the next two years. And now they’re even disagreeing on how they should negotiate. Dayton wants House and Senate negotiators to agree on the budget bills before he joins in. House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Zimmerman, said he wants the governor and his commissioners fully engaged now in public negotiations. But in one concession on Tuesday, Dayton acknowledged his push for a gas tax increase is no longer viable. He said he will probably swallow the Republican plan to use the general fund to pay for much-needed road and bridge projects. (MPR News)
2. A volley of indignation over a backroom Capitol card game resumed Tuesday, when the DFL lawmaker who called it out shot back at the Republicans accusing her of out-of-bounds rhetoric. House Minority Leader Melissa Hortman of Brooklyn Park filed a protest letter to respond to a GOP protest letter admonishing her as needlessly injecting race and gender into a debate. It stems from her early April comment that a “100 percent white male card game” in the House retiring room was distracting attention from an important debate on a crime measure. “I think it’s the equivalent of putting something on my permanent record and I thought it merited a reply,” Hortman said after addressing a rally in her defense. Both letters were put in the House journal but carry no other weight. The Republican letter, signed by dozens of representatives, was submitted prior to the just-concluded spring break and said Hortman’s comment was “beneath the dignity” of her office. (MPR News)
3. The commissioner of the state’s Bureau of Mediation Services died Tuesday after complications from a staph infection. Josh Tilsen, 67, was a 29-year employee of the bureau, which resolves contract disputes and grievances between state employees and state managers. He had been its commissioner since 2011, and previously worked as a hearing officer and mediator and as manager of administrative hearings. Tilsen became ill last week, and his condition “quickly worsened,” Dayton chief of staff Jaime Tincher said in a memo. He died Tuesday morning, with family present. Gov. Dayton said his entire administration was in mourning. (Pioneer Press)
4. The city of Minneapolis’ response to Jim Surdyk’s disregard for state liquor law took a turn Tuesday, as city council members rejected a tentative settlement reached with the liquor store owner a week ago. A 10-day suspension of Surdyk’s liquor license and $6,000 fine are not stiff enough penalties, a council committee decided, after Surdyk got a jump on the new Sunday liquor law and opened his northeast Minneapolis liquor and cheese shop on a Sunday last month. A new more severe penalty must be negotiated, the council committee said, and there may be a public hearing. (Star Tribune)
5. Republicans escaped a potentially brutal loss on Tuesday night by forcing a runoff in a closely watched Georgia special congressional election. Democrat Jon Ossoff fell short of the 50 percent needed to win outright in the crowded 18-way all-party primary. Ossoff, a 30-year-old documentary filmmaker and former congressional staffer, instead will face off against Republican former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel on June 20. The race to replace now-Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price attracted national attention as Democrats tried to turn it into a referendum on President Trump. Republicans have a better chance to win now that the race becomes more of a traditional two-party contest. (NPR)