Welcome to Wednesday and the likelihood that another Minnesotan will make a White House run. Here’s your Digest.
1. Will she or won’t she? (She probably will.) U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar said Tuesday night that she has an announcement scheduled in Minneapolis Sunday. It’s widely expected that she will join the crowded field of 2020 Democratic presidential candidates. Klobuchar, 58, started her third term in the U.S. Senate this year after winning more than 60 percent of the vote last November. She grew up in the western Twin Cities suburbs. Prior to going to Washington in 2006, she served as Hennepin County attorney. Klobuchar is not as well-known as other Democratic 2020 candidates and potential candidates. But her national profile got a major boost last fall during confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh when she patiently questioned combative Kavanaugh about his alcohol use. (MPR News)
2. Lawmakers to discuss prison safety. Minnesota legislators plan to hold a hearing where no legislative body has ever met before — the Stillwater prison. The state House corrections division is meeting Wednesday to review overall state prison staffing and safety. The union for the officers says assaults on prison staff by inmates have increased. Last year for the first time a Minnesota corrections officer, Joseph Gomm, was killed while on duty. Another officer, Joe Parise died after a medical emergencyfollowing his intervention in a fight at Oak Park Heights prison. (MPR News)
3. Distracted driving bills cruising in fast lane. Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, said Tuesday that legislation aimed at curbing distracted driving could be among the first measures passed in the Senate this session. Two proposals — one requiring hands-free devices while using a cellphone and another that would enhance penalties for texting while driving — continued a swift passage through the Senate on Tuesday, advancing after two days of hearings in the Judiciary and Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee and closer to a floor vote. “We’re really putting a lot of pressure on people to stop using your phone while you’re driving — at least in your hand,” Gazelka said in an interview. “For sure the hands-free one I think will pass in the next month, maybe earlier.” (Star Tribune)
4. Walz urges drug companies to come to the table on opioid abuse. Gov. Tim Walz wants drug companies to do more to combat opioid abuse in Minnesota — a desire he says he shared during a 45-minute conference call on Tuesday with opioid manufacturers and distributors. The DFL governor says he’s reminded almost daily of the scope of the problem and expects to sign a piece of meaningful legislation this year to address Minnesota’s opioid crisis. “It’s one that’s touched all of our families,” he told reporters after the conference call. “These are our children dying. These are our neighbors dying. It is taking an incredible human toll as well as an economic toll on our state.” (MPR News)
5. Ambitious renewable energy goal gets hearing. State legislators want to make Minnesota the fourth state in the country to set a 100 percent clean energy plan, with the aim of having electricity providers generate all energy from renewable sources by 2050. “Business as usual and relying on markets is not going to get the job done in time. The crisis is urgent,” said the measure’s sponsor, Rep. Jamie Long, D-Minneapolis. Electric utility companies would need to meet a series of deadlines to reduce their use of fossil fuels over the next few decades under the proposal. Dozens of people showed up at the State Capitol on Tuesday to champion or warn against the idea. (Star Tribune)