Beginning at 11 a.m., MPR News stations will provide special live coverage of the inauguration of Gov.-elect Tim Walz and other constitutional officers. Get ready with your Monday Digest.
1. A look back at inaugurations past. New governors pay a lot of attention to what governors before them said. When Al Quie was sworn in as Minnesota governor 40 years ago, he quoted from an inaugural speech made more than 50 years earlier by Luther Youngdahl who had quoted from an address delivered by Alexander Ramsey, the first territorial governor. As he made his way around a dairy farm last week, Tim Walz let on that he had been reading through past inaugural speeches lately as he prepared to make his own. Walz, a DFLer, will be sworn in Monday as the state’s 41st governor during a ceremony at St. Paul’s Fitzgerald Theater. It will give him a chance to frame his four years as they begin. But he will no doubt pay homage to the work done by those who previously stood in his place. (MPR News)
2. A new act for Keith Ellison. The setting may have been familiar, but the role was far different for state Attorney General-elect Keith Ellison. Inside the north Minneapolis community center that has long been home to his congressional campaign office, Ellison was seated on a recent evening before a packed room of lawmakers, community activists and constituents he represented for 12 years. He still had a microphone nearby but mainly was there to listen. One woman held up an EpiPen and said what once cost her $13 is now more than $700. Multiple speakers railed against conditions at the Minnesota Sex Offender Treatment Program. Several more described trying to get by with a felony on their record. “In the past, I used to just get up here and say, ‘I’m for this, I’m against that.’ You all used to see me do what I do,” Ellison told the audience at one point. “As attorney general, I can’t just get up and say, ‘Yeah I’m going to sue them tomorrow! I’m going to sue the pants off them before 9 o’clock!’ ” (Star Tribune)
3. Walz administration nearly complete. Gov.-elect Tim Walz all but filled out his Cabinet on Friday ahead of his swearing-in next week, unveiling his Cabinet picks for departments that connect his administration to workers and businesses across the state. Walz announced department commissioners for employment and economic development, commerce, revenue, and labor and industry, as well as three others agencies. He will name his pick for Minnesota IT Services, the government’s internet technology agency, later. The final Cabinet members will be at the center of Walz’s tax policy, insurance and other business regulations and economic development across the state, as well as lead agencies that work with veterans and public safety officials. (MPR News)
4. What’s in store for the Legislature? A DFL governor ready to make good on a slew of campaign vows. A new, energized House majority determined to ensure economic security for all Minnesotans. A fragile Republican Senate majority already bracing for Democrats’ taxing and spending proposals. Minnesota government is embarking on a new path when the divided Minnesota Legislature gavels into session on Tuesday, the only divided legislative branch in the country. Incoming Gov. Tim Walz and legislators start out with the advantage of a $1.5 billion budget surplus, but they face a growing list of funding requests and ominous signs the economy might be slowing. (Star Tribune)
5. Incoming education commissioner at odds with Trump school safety agenda. Minnesota’s newly-appointed education commissioner, Mary Cathryn Ricker, said on Friday that she disagrees with the Trump administration’s recommendations to arm teachers. The Trump administration last month released 93 guidelines for school safety that include things like training and arming school personnel. But Ricker, a former teacher, came out against that advice. “Arming teachers distracts us from the kinds of conversations we could be having about a more community-based and more welcoming teaching and learning situation,” Ricker said. “Introducing weapons into a classroom environment is not going to create a more welcoming school environment for practitioners or for our students.” (MPR News)