Good morning. Time to grab a cup of coffee and settle in with your Friday Digest.
1. Presidential run raises stakes on Klobuchar’s hunt for cash. When Amy Klobuchar discusses campaign fundraising in public, it’s usually for laughs. She routinely makes a self-deprecating joke about hitting up donors during her first run for the U.S. Senate more than a dozen years ago. “I finally ended up just calling everyone I knew in my life. And I raised what is still an all-time Senate record: I raised $17,000 from ex-boyfriends. I did that,” Klobuchar said in the latest recounting this week at the “We The People” Summit in Washington. “And, as my husband has pointed out, it’s not an expanding base.” Expanding her donor base is vital for Klobuchar’s White House bid. She’s likely to be dwarfed by the impressive hauls that Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, California Sen. Kamala Harris and former Texas U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke have generated so far. (MPR News)
2. House DFLers plan to force gun control debate. Minnesota House Speaker Melissa Hortman is defending DFL plans to add two controversial gun-control measures to the public safety budget bill. House committee action is expected late Thursday on an amendment related to expanded background checks and another related to court orders to keep firearms from people deemed a risk. Senate Republicans oppose the measures. But Hortman said House Democrats believe it is important to have a debate. “If we were to send stand-alone House Files 8 and 9 over to the Minnesota Senate, they would vote them down in committee and the conversation about gun violence prevention for this session would be over,” Hortman said. “We don’t think that’s what Minnesotans want, and that’s not what we’re committed to do.” (MPR News)
3. Health care bills win Senate approval. The Minnesota Senate gave bipartisan approval Thursday to a package of Republican-authored bills aimed at making health care more affordable, accessible and transparent. The bills included one for greater oversight over and licensing for pharmacy benefit managers — companies that serve as middlemen between insurers and patients that are supposed to use their purchasing clout to hold down drug expenses. The chief sponsor, Sen. Scott Jensen, said at a news conference that the system isn’t working. But the Chaska physician said not all the rebates the manufacturers pay to the middlemen make it to patients in the form of savings, and the bill would open that up to scrutiny. He said the revenues and profits for the three biggest pharmacy benefit managers — Express Scripts, CVS Caremark and Minnesota-based Optum — are growing while the costs of prescription drugs keep rising. (Associated Press)
4. Hearing Friday to weigh graphic Noor evidence. The judge overseeing the trial of former Minneapolis officer Mohamed Noor in the shooting death of 911 caller Justine Ruszczyk has set a Friday hearing on her decision to withhold some evidence from the public she’s deemed too graphic to view. Media groups, including MPR News, are challenging the decision by Judge Kathryn Quaintance, who’s ordered that body camera footage of the shooting’s aftermath and autopsy photos not to be shown to the public or media attending the trial. The organizations filed court documents this week calling the restrictions unconstitutional. (MPR News)
5. Drama swirls on Lakeland City Council. Jim Stanton is on the Lakeland City Council — or he isn’t. That question is dividing the council and the town of 1,800 residents. Tension flared this week after a meeting was called to fire the city attorney. The attorney said Stanton had resigned from the council. But Stanton did not resign, according to mayor Richard Glasgow. Glasgow said Stanton will be on the City Council when it decides whether to fire the city attorney, Dave Snyder. The city’s special meeting April 4 to discuss the firing was cancelled, and the firing is expected to be brought up at a future City Council meeting. “There are a lot of things swirling around here,” said Julie Thron, who has organized a petition drive to have the city’s records audited. (Pioneer Press)