Good morning. Welcome to Wednesday and your midweek Digest.
1. Wisconsin GOP limits powers in outgoing gesture. The Wisconsin Senate voted just before sunrise Wednesday following an all-night session to pass a sweeping bill in a lame-duck session designed to empower the GOP-controlled Legislature and weaken the Democrat replacing Republican Gov. Scott Walker. Republicans pushed on through protests, internal disagreement and Democratic opposition to the measures designed to reduce the powers of incoming Democratic Gov.-elect Tony Evers and Democratic Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul. Both Evers and Kaul urged Republicans not to do it, warning that lawsuits would bring more gridlock to Wisconsin when the new administration, and the first divided government in 10 years, takes over. (Associated Press via MPR News)
2. U of M president finalists demand anonymity. At least two of the three semifinalists for the University of Minnesota president job have told the U’s governing board they are willing to be named finalists — and go public with their identities — only if they are the sole front-runner for the position. That places university regents in a delicate position going into a Wednesday meeting to make decisions on finalists: They will be forced to rally around a single finalist to interview publicly — or scrap what board members generally agree are strong contenders recommended by the U’s 23-member search committee. (Star Tribune)
3. State Patrol reviewing chase policies. The Minnesota State Patrol troopers who pursued a speeding driver through Minneapolis neighborhoods in a June chase that ended up badly injuring three children operated within agency guidelines on pursuits, the patrol’s chief said Tuesday. Col. Matt Langer said State Patrol pursuits have jumped dramatically since 2010 and that Minnesota isn’t alone in seeing this rise in people fleeing officers in vehicles. Troopers, he added, must constantly weigh safety with the need to apprehend potential criminals. (MPR News)
4. Farm bill could get vote next week. U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson said Tuesday that the long-awaited farm bill is nearly finalized and could be passed as early as next week. The bill should be filed Monday, the House should take it up Wednesday or Thursday and the Senate the day after that. It would have been introduced this week if not for the funeral of President George H.W. Bush, whose death prompted cancellation of votes in the House for the week. “With any luck it’ll be passed by the end of next week, but knowing how things go around here it may drag into the week after,” said Peterson, the top Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee.The five-year bill mostly maintains the status quo in the nation’s agriculture industry, but it includes extra help for dairy farmers and a modest expansion of the Conservation Reserve Program, Peterson said. Republican efforts to overhaul the food stamp program have been mostly unsuccessful, he said. (Star Tribune)
5. Diplomatic progress in Somalia. The United States says it has re-established a “permanent diplomatic presence” in Somalia for the first time in 27 years. The State Department on Tuesday says “this historic event reflects Somalia’s progress in recent years and is another step forward in formalizing U.S. diplomatic engagement in Mogadishu.” (MPR News)