Good morning. You've made it to the Wednesday before Christmas in a year that is rapidly reaching an end, and it happens to be the Winter Solstice which means the days will begin getting longer. So with good reason to be optimistic, let's look at the Digest.
1. Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges has shifted her stance on raising the minimum wage in the city, saying she now supports a hike to $15 an hour. But her support for a higher wage in the city could hit a roadblock in the form of the Republican majority in the Legislature. “The concern at the Legislature is more that we live in one state, and we should have one policy for these important issues,” said Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, who chairs the House jobs committee. “If we start allowing every city in the state to have their own sick leave, own maternity policy, their own minimum wage, it's just going to make it completely unworkable to do business in the state of Minnesota. And this is going to result in fewer jobs and lower pay for workers.” (MPR News)
2. Some of Hodge's political opponents say her change of mind on the minimum wage smacks of opportunism. Some quotes from this piece: “We’re delighted the mayor has joined the conversation my colleagues and I have been having for two-plus years,” city council member and potential mayoral candidate Jacob Frey said. “The odd flip-flop without engagement does not inspire confidence.” “Her statement is a step in the right direction, but it falls far short of what’s needed,” mayoral candidate Nekima Levy-Pounds said. “I personally tire of the mayor talking about racial equity but doing very little.” (Star Tribune)
3. The new Senate Republican leader is the most socially conservative person in recent memory to serve as Majority Leader. Sen. Paul Gazelka of Nisswa is a man who is often guided by his Christian principles. He is respected by his colleagues from both parties and says he is ready to bring a statewide approach to his job at the Minnesota Capitol. (Star Tribune)
4. The so-called Islamic State has taken credit for the attack on a Berlin Christmas market which left 12 people dead. German officials released the person they took into custody immediately after the attack, saying they didn't have enough evidence to tie him to the crime. Chancellor Angela Merkel vowed to punish those responsible for the attack "as harshly as the law requires". Her policy on migration, which let 890,000 asylum seekers come to Germany last year, has divided the country. Her critics say it's a security threat. (BBC)
5. President Obama took action Tuesday to ban new offshore oil and gas development in U.S. waters in the Arctic Ocean and some areas in the Atlantic Ocean. The White House announced the actions in conjunction with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who also placed a moratorium on new oil and gas leasing in its Arctic waters, subject to periodic review. The move is likely to be opposed by President-elect Donald Trump, who has promised to use the nation's untapped energy reserves, but the issue could be tied up in court for years. (Bloomberg Politics)