Good morning. Here we are at Wednesday. It’s time to catch up with your Daily Digest.
1. No more springing forward, falling back? Here’s a timely topic for debate: The lost hour of sleep many of us are still adjusting to since daylight saving time kicked in over the weekend. At the state Capitol, there’s a push — albeit a recurring one — to lock in the clock. Legislation to eliminate the twice-yearly time shifts has moved ahead in the state Senate and counts a powerful backer – the House speaker – in that chamber. “Its time has come,” Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer told the State Government Policy Committee on Tuesday before it approved her bill on a divided voice vote to set Minnesota on the same time cycle for all 12 months. Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake, cited research attributing workplace injuries, auto accidents, heart problems, diet issues and child learning struggles to the time adjustments. But Minnesota and most other states are constrained in how far they can go without a revision to federal law. Kiffmeyer’s bill would set Minnesota on standard time — the one in place during fall and winter months now — all year long. (MPR News)
2. Walz won’t revive marijuana debate. Tim Walz expressed his disappointment Tuesday that a Minnesota Senate committee rejected a proposal to legalize recreational marijuana use in Minnesota, but says he has no plans to revive the issue. Monday’s 6-3 vote in the judiciary and public safety Committee ended the marijuana debate for this legislative session. The committee’s six Republican members repeatedly outvoted three Democrats who tried to keep the issue alive for the session. That included a move by supporters to create a task force to study marijuana legalization, an idea that has won approval in a House committee. “We certainly didn’t have an honest debate. We didn’t even have a floor vote on it,” said Walz. “What we had is a committee saying we killed it and it’s dead in a small out of the corner room.” (MPR News)
3. Carbon-free electric plan sparks debate. Gov. Tim Walz’s plan for Minnesota to get 100 percent of its electricity from carbon-free sources by 2050 was criticized Tuesday at its first legislative hearing, with representatives from some of the state’s smaller utilities saying they can’t meet that goal. Commerce Commissioner Steve Kelley told the House climate committee that the Democratic governor’s plan is ambitious. But he said the state’s generating system is “aging and at a critical juncture,” with plants that produce 70 percent of the state’s electricity coming up for potential retirement over the next two decades. He said it will ensure that utilities replace them with wind, solar and other innovative sources, and increased energy efficiency, before turning to fossil fuels. But Joel Johnson, a lobbyist for the Minnkota Power Cooperative, testified that the governor’s plan is “misguided and unrealistic” even with new technology to capture carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. Johnson added that even the big utilities that have set goals of going carbon-free by mid-century, such as Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy, acknowledge they don’t know yet how they’ll hit the target. (Associated Press)
4. Move over, slow pokes. Minnesotans, some say it’s high time you moved on over to the right lane of traffic. Drivers who are traveling in the left lane more slowly than the “speed of traffic” could face a misdemeanor fine of at least $100 under a measure introduced — yet again — at the Legislature. While every state requires slower-moving traffic to merge right, more than three dozen states have enacted “slowpoke” laws that give law enforcement officers the ability to fine slower drivers in the left lane. Sen. John Jasinski, R-Faribault, wants Minnesota to join the bunch. So this year, he once again introduced a bill that not only calls for a fine but a statewide awareness campaign to educate the public on the dangers of blocking left-lane drivers who want to go faster. “My intent is to make sure traffic flows efficiently,” Jasinski said. “If there’s traffic behind you, move over.” (Star Tribune)
5. The lake effect of Trump’s budget. The Trump administration’s proposed budget for fiscal 2020, released Monday in Washington, would make steep cuts in direct and indirect programs that impact the Great Lakes. According to an analysis by the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, the Trump budget would cut the great Lakes Initiative from $300 million this year to just $30 million in 2020. (Duluth News Tribune)