Daily Digest: Lawmakers return to a full plate

Good morning. Here’s your Daily Digest to get your Tuesday started.

1. How the end of the session is shaping up. Minnesota lawmakers return from an eight-day break on Tuesday and head into the final sprint of the 2019 legislative session. The DFL-led House and Republican-controlled Senate have been moving their major policy and budget bills ahead since January. The two parties have agreed on some issues, and they’re close on a few others. But the two parties are also setting up end-of-session clashes on most of the more polarizing issues of the session. Reminder: Lawmakers must adjourn the regular session by May 20. To catch up, here’s a quick rundown of where some of the major issues of the session stand. (MPR News)

2. Climate change, environment emerging as growing voter concerns.After the 2016 election, Teresa Hasbrook decided to channel her frustration with the direction of the country and get active. The Rush City Democrat helped start a group for women who share her progressive views. Members spent the 2018 midterms writing thousands of postcards and knocking on doors for Democrats in Minnesota’s Republican-leaning Chisago County. Earlier this year, the women gathered at a local library to decide their goals for 2020 and beyond. Reaching a consensus was easy: Everyone saw combating climate change as a top concern. “We knew we had an ethical, moral responsibility to our children,” said Hasbrook, a 67-year-old retiree. “We need to act fast and we need to take this stuff seriously. We’ll be all over this like a rash.” Perennial campaign issues like the economy, health care and immigration have long driven voters to the polls. But, in the face of growing international concern about the planet’s future, climate change and the environment are emerging as key concerns among voters such as Hasbrook. The share of Americans who feel the same way — and rank the environment as a top issue — has grown in recent years. (Star Tribune)

3. Klobuchar positioning herself as the practical option. She doesn’t speak Norwegian. She never played bass in an emo-punk band. And she isn’t trying to lead a “political revolution.” But Senator Amy Klobuchar, Democrat of Minnesota, is making a rather traditional political bet. While primary voters might flirt with flashier presidential candidates, in the end, they will settle down with a steady Midwestern senator in 2020. “People are so mad about Donald Trump and the Republicans,” she said during a recent interview in Des Moines. “But remember, this is about actually getting things done. And first of all, winning an election. There’s nothing wrong with anger and passion, but it’s putting it into something that will get results.” Since entering the race more than two months ago in the midst of a Minnesota blizzard, Ms. Klobuchar has been resolutely inching her way to the presidency. Forgoing packed rallies and soaring rhetoric, she is trying to sell voters on the politics of the practical, arguing that her record can win back some of the coveted Rust Belt voters who supported President Trump. (New York Times)

4. Appeals court overturns decision on White Bear Lake pumping. Two groups representing homeowners and businesses in the White Bear Lake area have lost the latest round in a long-running legal fight over protecting the lake’s water level and conserving local groundwater. Last year, a Ramsey County District Court judge sided with the two groups, blasting the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for violating multiple state laws in failing to regulate groundwater pumping and protect White Bear Lake’s water supply. In a decision issued Monday, the Minnesota Court of Appeals has sided with the DNR. Writing for the court, Judge John Rodenberg reversed the lower court’s decision and sent the case back to the district court. The DNR did not violate the Minnesota Environmental Rights Act nor the “public trust” doctrine in the way it issued permits for pumping groundwater, Rodenberg concluded. (Star Tribune)

5. Prosecutors challenge Noor’s squad car slap narrative. Defense attorneys for ex-Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor have argued he shot 911 caller Justine Ruszczyk in an alley after she slapped the back of his police squad as she approached, startling him and his partner and leaving them fearing for their lives. But an expert testified Monday that Ruszczyk’s fingerprints were not found on the squad. Jennifer Kostroski, a forensic scientist with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, told the court she could not conclude if Ruszczyk touched the squad, and there was nothing on the back of the vehicle that required further analysis. The question of whether or not Ruszczyk slapped the squad car before she was fatally shot has become a key question at Noor’s trial and a key part of his defense against murder and manslaughter charges he faces for the July 2017 shooting. (MPR News)

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