Good morning, and welcome to Wednesday. The Legislature met in special session overnight, but it went very slowly. They were supposed to finish by 7 this morning, but they’re not going to meet that self-imposed deadline. St. Paul DFL Rep. John Lesch tweeted this morning, “Things have gotten downright bizarre, skins are thin, and tempers hot – a bad way to pass policy.” Let’s take a look at the Digest.
1. Lawmakers began what was supposed to be a one-day special session just after the stroke of midnight Tuesday. Twenty-four hours later, not a one of the seven outstanding bills had passed nor had a single vote been held. Their 7 a.m. adjournment as promised in a signed agreement with Gov. Mark Dayton was moving out of reach when architects of a massive $14 billion health funding bill conceded it wouldn’t be ready until noon Wednesday at the earliest. Even as they filled in details of their budget deal, the pace of action was slow and a bill seeking to change local labor standards set off a fury even though Dayton pledged a veto. The House took up its $650 million tax-cut bill after 1 a.m. But most of the other bills weren’t even made public by then. The House passed the bill shortly after 5 and sent it to the Senate.(MPR News)
2. President Trump’s $4.1 trillion federal budget proposal, released Tuesday, would vastly reshape the federal government’s funding of health care, food stamps, and an array of programs that aid hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans. The proposal also excludes further federal funding for the $1.9 billion Southwest Light Rail Transit project. U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis is claiming some credit for the lack of funding for the projects. The 2nd District Republican recently wrote to Trump’s budget director and the Transportation secretary asking that the Southwest project not be funded any further. (Star Tribune)
3. Tuition is likely to rise for students attending most public universities in Minnesota. The higher education budget bill passed by the Legislature increases total spending by $210 million over the last two-year budget, but the overall amount is much lower than what higher education leaders wanted. The University of Minnesota system would get $54.6 million, the Minnesota State system, $106.3 million, and the Minnesota Office of Higher Education, $49 million. (MPR News)
4. In her fourth State of the City address, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges acknowledged that not everyone is on board with some major changes the city is going through. However, Hodges says the transformation she’s spearheading from City Hall is meant to benefit all city residents. Hodges’ speech also touted progress in the city’s efforts to end homelessness, to invest in early childhood development and increase the number of women and people of color working in the tech industry. The mayor is facing a strong field of challengers in her bid for a second term. The field includes a current Minneapolis city council member, a state legislator, the former head of the Minneapolis NAACP and the former CEO of the Hennepin Theater Trust. (MPR News)
5. Sue Hakes, former Cook County Commissioner and Mayor of Grand Marais, announced she has formed a congressional exploratory committee to determine the feasibility of running for Congress as a Democrat in Minnesota’s 8th District. Nolan has said in the last few months that he’s considering a run for Minnesota governor next year and will decide on his candidacy later this year. Ray “Skip” Sandman announced his candidacy to represent the 8th Congressional District earlier this month. Hakes has lived in Grand Marais since 1995. She and her husband, John Gorski, formerly of Eveleth, work in real estate. (Duluth News Tribune)