The good news is there’s one week to go before a mandatory adjournment to the Legislature’s 2017 regular session. That’s also the bad news because it portends several all-nighters ahead to get everything done in time. Brian Bakst here filling in for Mike on today’s Digest.
1. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Three guys go into a room … It’s actually a slightly wider and more diverse circle, but a lot rides on the ability of Gov. Mark Dayton, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka and House Speaker Kurt Daudt to move off deeply held positions and reach an agreement acceptable to their respective political bases. All are presenting an optimistic front as time ticks down. Rank-and-file legislators have told me a special session that leads to preparations for a possible shutdown wouldn’t go over well back home, so there’s ample incentive to deal. That’s consistent with the view expressed here by Lakeville Republican Rep. Roz Peterson: “When you have a surplus it seems ridiculous to move to a shutdown.” Bonus: a nifty countdown clock. (Pioneer Press)
2. Maybe the fellas should step aside and let the women have a go at striking a session-ending deal. The Capitol’s women sure proved their prowess at the Governor’s Fishing Opener over the weekend, reeling in a bigger bounty than the Dayton-Daudt-Gazelka pontoon. First-term DFL Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minneapolis had the most luck with her line, catching 13 fish in total. As the leaders said before they left for the fishing opener, the state of the state’s political affairs were left behind while they focused on the fish. Mark your 2018 calendars early because next year’s opener is slated for Willmar. (KARE 11)
3. One of the remaining sticking points is how much of the budget surplus should be steered to education. Particularly, whether the state should be spending more money on early childhood programs that prepare youngsters for kindergarten. All sides would up that portion of the budget, but in different ways. There’s a big debate over whether to target limited resources to at-risk children or commit more money to make sure any family can access quality preschool options. (Pioneer Press)
4. I have a theory that if the session ends on time with some expected give and take on spending vs. tax cuts, only the truly immersed members of the public will perk up to what was or wasn’t done. This will go down as the Sunday Sales session. It’s an easy-to-understand issue and one that riled many people on both sides. To refresh, after many decades (or more than a century by some accounts), shoppers will be able to legally purchase alcohol at liquor stores on Sundays beginning on July 2. Loyalists of Surdyk’s probably will have to wait a tad longer after the Minneapolis store’s owner jumped the gun this spring. A proposed settlement between the store and the city would levy a $50,000 fine and force Surdyk’s to keep its doors shut the first three Sundays after the law change. (MPR News)
5. Lastly, the Sunday newspapers and morning political shows were filled with plenty of strong stories about news coming out of a newsy White House. There is lots of speculation about a potential senior staff shakeup, and there are still plenty of questions about President Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey, for whom a replacement could be selected this week. But there were also some provocative commentary pieces worth a read. This one by conservative talk radio show host Charlie Sykes, who did a stint on public radio during Trump’s first 100 days, caught my eye. Sykes makes the case that Trump’s penchant for actions that sends his critics into a fury is just what his supporters crave, and that being anti-anti-Trump is what matters to some conservatives more than anything. (New York Times)