Good morning, and happy Thursday. (It’s Thursday, right?) It has been a long week for the state Legislature and a long week for those of us who try to watch what happens at the Capitol. Let’s go to the Digest.
1. After hanging around the Capitol all night Tuesday and not getting much done legislators made some progress Wednesday afternoon and then took the night off. Both the House and Senate voted on a tax cut bill and an education funding measure, but they still have to resolve some differences before sending them to the governor. Other bills, including funding measures for health and human services and state departments, still need to be passed, and lawmakers still hope to pass a public works construction bill. As the House and Senate struggled to pass bills, some DFL-leaning groups tried to put pressure on Gov. Mark Dayton to start over and try for a better deal. (MPR News)
2. Hunting and fishing fees are going up, along with those for state parks, snowmobiles and all terrain vehicles, assuming Gov. Dayton signs one of the budget bills that’s already been passed. You might think people who will be paying those higher fees would be upset about it, but an informal survey of several people in the Bemidji area finds many folks are just fine with the increases. Take Carl Seemann of Bemidji, for example, who was out looking to trade in an ATV he was unhappy with for a new model. He will have to pay $15 more to register a new ATV. “I don’t think it’s objectionably high,” he said. “If they can buy these expensive machines, let them pay for the privilege of someone making those trails.” (MPR News)
3. Oversight of luxury suite use by public officials at U.S. Bank Stadium won’t change despite early resolve at the State Capitol to tighten controls over the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA). Despite the stated joint aim of reform, something went awry with a final plan for changes to the MSFA that had near-unanimous consensus. Those with knowledge of negotiations differ in their assessments of what went wrong at the Capitol as well as their willingness to publicly take blame. (Star Tribune)
4. DFL Sen. Al Franken says he is not running for president in 2020. Franken is selling a new book called “Al Franken, Giant of the Senate,” and it’s clear that he and his family have no interest in him pursuing higher office. Franken says: “I got way, way, way too much to do right now to even think about that, other than to say, ‘No, I’m not going to do that.’” (People Magazine)
5. The head coach at Rosemount High School and civics teacher at the school, said he is seeking the DFL endorsement in 2018 for the Second Congressional District, where first-term Republican Jason Lewis now serves. “I never thought I would be running for Congress,” Jeff Erdmann said in a news release Wednesday. “After seeing the behavior of our politicians, especially Jason Lewis, I realized that if working Americans want proper representation, then working Americans like myself need to run for office.” Erdmann, 49, added that his 27 years of teaching American government has shown him that “whether we’re Democrat or Republican, there is more that unites us than divides us,” said Erdmann. (Star Tribune)