Good morning, and happy Martin Luther King Day. I hope you had a good weekend. Here’s the Digest.
1. McCollum poised to be powerful Trump opponent. Minnesota U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum’s high-ranking post in the House’s new Democratic majority found her quickly mixing it up with the Trump administration. And it positions her to lead the push against the continued repeal or undermining of environmental regulations. “Our most important role is going to be putting a spotlight on stuff they’re trying to roll back,” McCollum said. The 12 women and men who chair House Appropriations subcommittees — they’re called “Cardinals” around Capitol Hill — have long been seen as among the most powerful members of Congress, and McCollum is now one of them. (Star Tribune)
2. DFL Senate leader opposes key DFL gun proposal. The Minnesota Senate’s top Democrat doesn’t support the heart of the Democratic proposal to expand background checks for gun sales. And that’s a big problem for gun-control advocates, who can count on support from Gov. Tim Walz, a Democrat, and the majority of the state House, which is controlled by Democrats. But in the Senate, where Republicans claim a mere two-vote majority, the outlook is far less clear. Especially since the Senate’s top Democrat, Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk, said last week that he isn’t a fan of a core theme of the leading proposal to expand background checks. “Where you lose me is when you tell me that I can’t sell my gun to my neighbor who has lived with me my entire life — we have lived next door to each other — and you tell me he’s gotta go down to the county sheriff’s office and get a background check before I can sell a gun (to him).” Bakk said. “And I think that’s where you lose most gun owners, and I think that’s what not well-represented in the polling.” (Pioneer Press)
3. Lee wins DFL endorsement for senate seat but faces Lourey in primary. Michelle Lee has won the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party endorsement for an open state Senate seat in east-central Minnesota. DFL party members from Senate District 11 gathered in Barnum on Saturday to weigh an endorsement ahead of Tuesday’s primary in a special election to fill the seat vacated by former Sen. Tony Lourey. Lee, a former longtime Duluth TV news anchor, missed the 60-percent threshold required for a endorsement by just one vote on the first ballot. At that point, fellow DFL candidate Stu Lourey — Tony’s son — conceded the endorsement to Lee. More than 150 people cast votes at the endorsing convention. Both DFL candidates will appear on Tuesday’s primary ballot in the district that includes Pine and Carlton counties, as well as portions of St. Louis and Kanabec counties. The winner will face Republican state Rep. Jason Rarick in the Feb. 5 special election. John Birrenbach of the Legal Marijuana Now party also is running. (MPR News)
4. Women’s March draws 4,000 in Minnesota. Amid internal controversies and a capital city deeply distracted by the partial government shutdown, the third Women’s March returned to Washington on Saturday with an enduring message of anger and defiance aimed directly at President Trump’s White House. It was one of many Women’s March events held across the country — including in St. Paul, where several thousand people braved the cold to march to the steps of the Minnesota Capitol for a noon rally. “People are bundled up — hats, mittens. We’ve walked blocks and blocks. There’s people, volunteers, all bundled up — moving us along, cheering us along, honks, all of it,” said marcher Lexie Erickson along the route of the St. Paul march. “We’ve got to show up to make things happen. … It doesn’t matter the time, the date, how cold it is — things are going to happen, (and) we need to be there to make it happen.” St. Paul police estimated the crowd at 4,000 during the march; that estimate was from before the marchers reached the Capitol. (MPR News)
5. Hundreds pay last respects to Tom Rukavina. “I think Tommy would have been proud of this weather.” On a bitter cold January morning, hundreds of people sought the warmth and comfort of Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Virginia. It was there, where friends and loved ones gathered to remember the legendary Tom Rukavina. The 68-year-old died earlier this month after a battle with leukemia. There was plenty of laughter during the service, which was to be expected by a guy who lived life to its fullest. His son, Victor, started things off. “It wasn’t always easy being the child of Tommy Rukavina,” he said. He recalled he and his sister, Ida, taking telephone calls for their dad. “Sometimes constituents would forget they were speaking with a child,” he remembered. There were plenty of life lessons, from Rukavina. Hunting, fishing, gardening. And then the moral ones. “Always help those less fortunate.” Most importantly, during the end, Victor said, “You taught us that even though life may have a disappointing ending, what one does with our time on earth, our legacy, can live on forever.” (WDIO)