Welcome to Wednesday. Here’s your Digest to get things started right.
1. The governor’s construction project wish list. DFL Gov. Tim Walz on Tuesday proposed a $1.27 billion package of public construction projects that he said would preserve state assets and make smart investments for the future. The plan is heavy on transportation, including rail safety improvements throughout the state. It also funds projects for higher education campuses, correctional facilities and affordable housing — a key policy issue for the new governor. Walz used the Fort Snelling Upper Post, a housing facility for formerly homeless veterans, as the backdrop to announce his bonding plan Tuesday. After meeting privately with some of the residents, Walz said affordable housing is a problem throughout the state and a priority in his proposal. “Our capital budget directs $150 million to the preservation of existing affordable housing and to create new homes for Minnesotans, across all income levels, in all areas of the state,” he said. (MPR News)
2. Omar pledges support for Trump impeachment. An advocacy group asking members of Congress to support impeachment of President Trump has landed its first two recruits: Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). The group, which bills itself as By the People, announced Tuesday that the freshman lawmakers — both of whom have been at the center of controversies during their short tenure on Capitol Hill — are the “brave first” members of Congress to sign its pledge. There has been little doubt about Tlaib’s position on the issue since her first day on the job, when she famously proclaimed at a reception her desire to “impeach the motherf—–.” After several days of national attention for her profane description of the president, Tlaib said she was sorry to have created a distraction but would never apologize for being “passionate and upset.” A spokesman for Omar also confirmed her signing of the pledge. (Washington Post)
3. GOP Hitler reference criticized as anti-Semitic. A northwestern Minnesota chapter of the state Republican Party drew criticism Tuesday for a Facebook post comparing U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders to Adolf Hitler. The now-deleted post, shared by the Clay County Republican Party of Minnesota’s Facebook account, featured side-by-side images of the Nazi leader and Sanders, a recent entrant into the 2020 presidential race. A list of alleged similarities between the political philosophies and policy positions of Hitler, a German dictator who orchestrated the killing of 6 million Jews, and Sanders, a democratic socialist who is himself Jewish, accompanies the photos. “Those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat its mistakes,” the caption reads. Jewish Community Action condemned the post as “absurd,” “disgusting” and “unquestionably, unapologetically, anti-Semitic,” noting that Sanders has said his relatives died in the Holocaust. In a series of tweets, the group called on the Republican Party of Minnesota to apologize. (Star Tribune)
4. Kids’ mental health initiatives in Walz budget. Helping students do better in school, get punished less often and miss fewer days are all things the administration is hoping for — which is why Gov. Tim Walz is asking for more than $4 million a year for children’s mental health care in his budget proposal. One piece of that is to offer mental health care in school for as many as 7,500 more students through the state’s “school-linked” mental health services. “All too often, it takes over 10 years for people who have mental health needs to get in to get services,” said Tony Loury, commissioner of Minnesota Department of Human Services. “School-linked mental health [care] has been a really powerful tool that we’ve used for several years now. This will be a big piece.” The governor is also proposing the state provide money for children’s residential treatment. The federal government stopped funding those facilities last year, which left the state scrambling. (MPR News)
5. Hillary still a presence for Klobuchar, other candidates. Senator Amy Klobuchar seemed quite clear when she revealed the first state she would visit as a presidential candidate: Wisconsin. “Because, as you remember, there wasn’t a lot of campaigning in Wisconsin in 2016,” she said. “With me, that changes.” Democrats took it as an unmistakable swipe at Hillary Clinton, who lost that battleground state after never appearing there during the 2016 general election campaign. The jab ricocheted across the internet, enraging Clinton admirers and earning Ms. Klobuchar attention as a Midwesterner willing to speak hard truths. But behind the scenes, Ms. Klobuchar of Minnesota sprang into damage control mode, firing off an email to Mrs. Clinton. In a phone call that soon followed, she apologized and said her off-the-cuff remark had been misinterpreted, according to people familiar with the episode. (New York Times)