Daily Digest: An apology from Dayton

Good morning, and here we are at Thursday already. The Minnesota Supreme Court is expected to deliver its long-awaited decision today in the Legislature’s lawsuit over the governor’s vetoes. While we’re waiting for that, let’s check the Digest.

1. Four months after the launch of new computer system for vehicle licensing and registration, DFL Gov. Mark Dayton said it remains far from where it should be. Dayton offered an apology, acknowledging glitches and failings in the system. But he also said that it often works correctly. The Minnesota Licensing and Registration System, or MNLARS, went on line in late July to replace 30-year-old technology. The first-phase covered license plates, tabs, titles and registrations. Complaints about glitches in the new system began immediately, most notably from deputy registrars throughout the state. Later Wednesday lawmakers grilled state officials about the problems. (MPR News)

2. Gov. Dayton said Wednesday he would create a task force to deal with abuses in senior homes revealed in a Star Tribune series this week. “The senior care failures are really appalling,” he said during a morning news conference. The task force comprising agency heads and experts would assess the situation and come up with remedies, including proposals for the next legislative session that begins in February, Dayton said. “Some of the acts that have been reported are criminal acts. I’m at a loss to understand why they aren’t reported immediately as criminal acts to law enforcement agencies. Those are the kinds of questions I have,” Dayton said. His ultimate goal, he said, is that Minnesotans “be assured that their loved ones are being properly cared for and protected in those situations.” (Star Tribune)

3. Interviews with more than a dozen female lobbyists, staff members and lawmakers in the past week have exposed deep concerns about sexual harassment and whether there are adequate protections for women who do speak up. A group of women who are lobbyists has begun meeting to discuss whether there’s an avenue to share their stories anonymously and without it becoming political. About a dozen women attended one session, a lobbyist in attendance told MPR News, and another meeting is planned for Friday. The Minnesota Government Relations Council, a trade organization for lobbyists, was planning Thursday to discuss its role in assuring a safe work environment. Working at the Capitol is about access and professional relationships. Some women worry about their standing suffering if they go public. (MPR News)

4. State Auditor Rebecca Otto says  the Rochester City Council’s monthly dinner outings misused taxpayer money and may have violated open meeting laws. The state auditor’s review of expenses from 2014 through 2016, when the meetings stopped, show the outings cost taxpayers roughly $10,000. According to the letter sent by the state auditor’s office, the meals should have been recorded as taxable income for the council members in attendance. The long-standing gatherings ended last fall when some residents and council members raised concern. They argued that the meetings were difficult for the public to attend. (MPR News)

5. There is a deep divide in Minnesotans’ attitudes toward immigration. A new survey by MPR News and APM Research Lab finds that people in the largest urban areas tend to say the state’s on the right track in welcoming immigrants and refugees. But in rural areas and St. Cloud, feelings are different. Just 57 percent of respondents said the state was on the right track in welcoming immigrants and refugees. Broken down by geography, the split between urban and rural Minnesotans was clear: In urban areas like the seven-county Twin Cities region, Rochester and Duluth, from 59 percent to 73 percent of respondents thought the state was on the right track in welcoming refugees and immigrants. But in St. Cloud and rural areas, those who said the state was on the right track ranged from just 36 to 46 percent. (MPR News)

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