Daily Digest: Town hall meetings become focus

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Good morning and welcome to Wednesday. I was corrected yesterday on the item about Sunday liquor store sales. An alert reader reminded me the ban on Sunday sales has been in effect since statehood, not just since prohibition. But when I ran that by reporter Tim Pugmire he argued that he believes the clock started again once prohibition was repealed, since all sales were legally banned from Jan. 17, 1920 to Dec. 5, 1933. While you ponder that point and prepare your briefs on opposing sides, I'll move to the Digest.

1.  Republican Congressman Tom Emmer's chief of staff is cautioning that if a town hall scheduled for tonight in Sartell turns disruptive or violent, he will end the meeting. A big crowd is expected, and opponents of President Trump are expected to question the 6th District representative about his support of the president's policies on immigration and health care. Other congressional town hall meetings around the country have featured angry crowds confronting elected officials.  Some other members of Minnesota's delegation appear reluctant to hold them. (Star Tribune)

2. Lawmakers and others who have lost family members to overdoses proposed a package of legislation Tuesday they call the “opioid reform act.” The act includes five different bills aimed at different parts of the opioid epidemic. A major bill in the package would require medical professionals to check the state’s prescription monitoring system when prescribing opioids. State law currently makes using the system voluntary for doctors and dentists. Studies have shown that about 80 percent of heroin users started with prescription painkillers. (MPR News)

3. The founder and longtime head of the Hennepin Theatre Trust announced a campaign to lead the city of Minneapolis on Tuesday. Tom Hoch said he was challenging incumbent first term mayor Betsy Hodges, who announced in December she was seeking re-election. Hoch said the city's leaders are reactive, "playing small ball" and failing to raise the city's national profile, attract businesses, or plan for the day that one of downtown's large employers leaves town or cuts thousands of jobs. "We've had big ideas before," Hoch said. "But where is the ambition of the leaders of our city today? The reality is that cities either move forward or backward. Today, other cities are moving faster, smarter and with greater ambition. Minneapolis has to get back to moving forward." (Star Tribune)

4. The Trump administration released two memos Tuesday that lay out a series of steps the Department of Homeland Security plans to take to implement President Trump's executive orders from late January. Those orders called for increased border security and stricter enforcement of the nation's immigration laws. Under the new rules, the department would greatly expand the number of immigrants who are prioritized for removal. This includes a person in the country illegally who may have committed a crime but not been charged, who has "abused any program related to receipt of public benefits," or who an immigration officer deems a risk to public safety or national security. DHS officials said the agency is not planning mass deportations and that many of the new policies would take time to implement. "We don't need a sense of panic necessarily in these communities," one official said in a conference call with reporters. (NPR)

5. President Trump on Tuesday denounced threats and acts of vandalism aimed at Jews.  "The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centers are horrible and are painful, and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil," Trump said after touring the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Trump had been criticized for passing up previous chances to denounce a spate of recent anti-Semitic incidents that range from desecration of a Jewish cemetery to Jewish community centers. Some of the critics noted that Trump's presidential campaign last year seemed to attract an unusually high number of anti-Semites and white nationalists. (USA Today)