The Daily Digest (Abeler challenges Franken, immigration overhaul could save billions)

Welcome to Wednesday's edition of The Daily Digest.

Another state lawmaker will try to make the leap to the national stage, as Republican state Rep. Jim Abeler announces his candidacy against U.S. Sen. Al Franken.

And an immigration overhaul could save the country billions of dollars. But new complications arise in the U.S. House that could prevent the bill from being heard.

In Minnesota

State Rep. Abeler running for US Senate (MPR News) Republican Rep. Jim Abeler of Anoka announced that he will run against U.S. Sen. Al Franken in 2014. He plans to meet with Republican activists and donors over the coming months, but could run into problems convincing them of his conservative bona fides because of his willingness in the past to buck the party. Abeler is the second Republican to jump into the race.

Gov. Dayton’s Minnesota Poll approval rating climbs to 57 percent (Star Tribune) The Star Tribune Minnesota poll found that the number of Minnesotans who approve of the job done by Gov. Mark Dayton has recently increased, largely due to an uptick in support among Independents and Republicans.  The poll also reports strong support for the governor’s plan to tax the wealthy and smokers.

Thompson set to announce political plans (MPR News) State Sen. Dave Thompson, R-Lakeville, tells MPR News that he’ll announce his future political plans next Wednesday morning. Thompson has been mulling a run for governor in 2014 and said he would make a final decision by the end of the month. He was forced to acknowledge his campaign announcement after the South Metro Tea Party said Thompson would be “announcing his future political plans” at the group’s first event on Wednesday evening. If Thompson runs for governor, he’ll compete for the GOP nomination with Orono businessman Scott Honour and Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson.  DFL Gov. Mark Dayton is running for re-election. –Tom Scheck

Rybak among 18 mayors pushing food stamp restrictions on soda (Associated Press) The mayors argue that sugary drinks, which actually harm someone’s health, shouldn’t be subsidized. About 47 million Americans used food stamps last year.

Group backing same-sex marriage tops lobbyist spending at state Capitol (MPR News) Lobbying reports were made public on Tuesday. A notable big spender is the group Minnesotans United, which successfully supported a law legalizing same-sex marriage. The group spent about $2 million on the effort, about ten times as much as their opponents. Other big spenders include business groups, Xcel Energy, unions and the National Rifle Association.

In Washington

Immigration Law Changes Seen Cutting Billions From Deficit (New York Times)

A long-awaited analysis from the Congressional Budget Office found that passage of an immigration overhaul would lower the federal deficit by about $1 trillion over two decades. But the news came as Republican leadership in the House vowed not to give the bill a hearing until a majority of Republicans supported it.

AFP targets Peterson over Farm Bill (MPR News) A conservative group, Americans for Prosperity, is targeting Rep. Collin Peterson and 14 other lawmakers for their support of the farm bill. The group wants sharper food stamp cuts and fewer subsidies for agriculture.

Rural lawmakers push for farm bill votes in House (Associated Press)

Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson said he thinks the bill has enough support to pass the House. He’s been telling Democrats that sharp cuts to food stamps are likely to be reduced in the conference committee with the Senate.

Life After Congress: Rod Grams (Roll Call) Roll Call checks in with former U.S. Sen. Rod Grams, who currently runs a radio station in Little Falls, Minn.

Bachmann defends NSA surveillance, labels Snowden a traitor (Star Tribune) U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann said leaks about the government’s secret surveillance system were a betrayal of trust. She said the focus should be on preventing more leaks in the future.

Democrats look to work around GOP opposition to B. Todd Jones at ATF (Star Tribune)

By putting the ATF under the auspices of another federal agency, Democrats could bypass the Senate confirmation that’s been held up by Republicans, according to The Hill newspaper.

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