Good morning, and welcome to Thursday. Hope things are going well. Here’s the Digest.
1. The St. Paul City Council on Wednesday voted down a proposed ban on Styrofoam and other takeout food containers. The ordinance would have prohibited cups, plates and to-go boxes that can’t be composted, recycled or reused. Supporters had hoped to divert those items from landfills. Council members rejected the measure 5-2, but voted to reconsider it in a year. In the end, only council members Amy Brendmoen and council president Russ Stark voted yes. Minneapolis has had similar packaging restrictions for two years. St. Louis Park implemented a ban earlier this year. (MPR News)
2. Senate Republicans are pushing to make it harder for home state senators to derail judicial nominations. Sen. Al Franken is pushing back. The Minnesota Democrat opposes the Trump administration’s choice of Minnesota Supreme Court Justice David Stras for a seat on the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. His refusal to return a so-called “blue slip” on Stras has effectively scuttled the nomination under Senate rules. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday that he wants to rewrite those rules. But the choice of abiding by the Senate’s long tradition of blue slips rests with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, not McConnell. Grassley has been a longtime supporter of blue slips. (Star Tribune)
3. During his 11 years in Congress, Democrat Tim Walz took several votes to expand access to firearms, while the majority of his Democratic colleagues strongly dissented. For that, Walz was able to boast of an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association for each of his five successful re-election campaigns. Now, as he pivots from Congress to a run for governor, Walz is touting himself as someone who can bring rural voters back into the Democratic Party. But some of the very issues that underscored that rural appeal — guns not least among them — are in danger of becoming a sticking point for the liberal activists whose votes will be critical to Walz winning the DFL endorsement for governor. (MinnPost)
4. Tough tradeoffs, political infighting and worries about the deficit are obstacles to a Republican-led push to rewrite the federal tax code, experts watching the national debate take shape agreed Wednesday as they raised doubts about a deal getting done anytime soon. The state and national tax policy experts offered the pessimistic appraisal during a panel discussion convened Wednesday by the Minnesota Center for Fiscal Excellence, a nonpartisan research group funded by business organizations. The U.S. Senate is set to vote next week on a budget framework that will either pave the way or throw up more roadblocks to an eventual overhaul. (MPR News)
5. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is proposing to add more lakes and streams to the state’s list of impaired waters. As the MPCA continues testing water bodies across the state, more are being added to the list due to water quality problems such as excess nutrients, mercury, salt and bacteria. Under the federal Clean Water Act, Minnesota must update its list of impaired waters every two years. About 40 percent of Minnesota’s lakes, rivers and streams do not meet water quality standards. The draft 2018 list adds 618 new impairments on 362 lakes and streams. That brings the total list of impaired water bodies to 2,669 lakes and streams across the state. Many water bodies have more than one reason for being listed. (MPR News)