Good morning, and welcome to Thursday. It seems like this week is going quickly. Here’s the Digest.
1. Daudt says gun bills may still pass this session. Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt revealed Wednesday that there have been behind-the-scenes talks for some time about possible compromise legislation on gun control. He didn’t rule out action on gun measures before the session concludes in a few weeks. “I hope that there is. I think there will be. I think there can be. I don’t know what that looks like yet.” Daudt said he has had limited personal involvement in the discussions and was guarded about exactly what is being talked through. “Solutions that will really help reduce putting guns in the hands of potentially dangerous criminals. I think we all share that goal. I know those conversations are happening. I expect, or I hope those conversations can be fruitful, and we can find legislation that can get the support of the Legislature.” Daudt’s comments came after Rep. Erin Maye Quade, DFL-Apple Valley, ended a 24-hour sit-in on the House floor aimed at highlighting a lack of action this year on gun control legislation. And the gun issue is due to come up on the Senate floor today in the form of amendments offered by DFL Sen. Ron Latz. (MPR News)
2. State House changes sexual harassment policies. People who interact with state representatives — including constituents, lobbyists and members of the media — now have an avenue to address complaints of harassment and discrimination by elected officials and legislative staff. The Minnesota House on Wednesday made the first change in a decade to its harassment policies, joining a number of other states that have added protections for third parties and the lawmakers and staff who interact with them. The new rules apply to actions by or against House members and their employees, both when they are at the Capitol or participating in legislative business in the community. “I don’t view this as necessarily the end of the process … We need to take action now, get a good start and let our staff have additional time to find out if there’s additional things that we should be doing,” said House Majority Leader Joyce Peppin, R-Rogers, who led a subcommittee that came up with the changes. (Star Tribune)
3. Dayton comments on judge’s ruling on pipeline route. Gov. Mark Dayton said he doesn’t see “any viable way” for Enbridge Energy to build its replacement Line 3 oil pipeline along its current route, as a judge recommended earlier this week. Line 3 currently runs through two tribal lands in northern Minnesota: the Leech Lake and Fond du Lac reservations. Enbridge wants to replace the aging pipeline along a new route that avoids the reservations in part of a plan that’s reaising growing opposition from environmentalists and tribes, among others. Administrative law Judge Ann O’Reilly issued a non-binding recommendation on Monday that Minnesota regulators should approve the pipeline, but only if it runs along the current route and not Enbridge Energy’s preferred new path. The governor said he is not taking a position on the issue until the Public Utilities Commission decides whether to give Enbridge its blessing to construct the Line 3 replacement. But he said the judge’s recommendation doesn’t seem feasible. “I don’t see any viable way that that could be attempted or should be attempted going through the two tribal lands,” Dayton said. “And given their adamant position they’re against anything like that, I don’t see how that’s viable.” (MPR News)
4. Supreme court hears arguments on cameras in the courtroom. The Minnesota Supreme Court is considering whether a short-term experiment in allowing cameras in courtrooms for sentencing in criminal cases should become a permanent policy. An advisory panel that studied the three-year-long pilot project concluded late last year that cameras should continue to be allowed. Now, the court is deciding if it should follow that recommendation, end or expand the program — and still taking feedback from attorneys, media organizations and others with a stake in the decision. On Wednesday, the justices listened for an hour as members of those groups made their case, some for and some against cameras in the courtroom. Attorneys and a sexual-assault survivors group argued that photos and video of courtroom action threatens victims’ privacy and potentially biases the public against people involved in court matters. Representatives from media outlets and an open-government group, meanwhile, said Minnesota’s courtroom camera polices are far less transparent than those of most other states and in need of an update. (Star Tribune)
5. Noor signals he’ll plead not guilty. Attorneys for former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor filed a court document Wednesday saying that the officer intends to plead not guilty on charges filed against him in the shooting death of Justine Ruszczyk last July. Noor was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter last month in the killing of Ruszczyk, known professionally as Justine Damond. She’d called 911 to report what she thought was an assault in the alley behind her home in Minneapolis on July 15. Prosecutors say Noor fatally shot Ruszczyk through the open driver’s side window after she approached the squad car from behind. Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said when he announced charges that there was “no evidence that Officer Noor encountered a threat, appreciated a threat, investigated a threat or confirmed a threat that justified his decision to use deadly force.” The court document filed Wednesday also states that Noor intends to present self-defense and reasonable force defenses against the charges. A hearing is set for May 8. Noor’s attorney Thomas Plunkett declined comment. (MPR News)