Daily Digest: Taxes, roads, fish and prisons

Good morning and welcome to Thursday. Hey, how about those Twins? Here's the Digest.

1. Members of Minnesota’s Congressional delegation are weighing in on President Trump’s framework to overhaul the federal tax code. Not surprisingly, Republicans are praising it and Democrats are raising concerns. The plan would simplify the tax system, cut taxes for individuals and corporations and nearly double the standard deduction for individuals and families. But a lot of the details, including which deductions go away to pay for the plan, are left to Congress to work out later. Republican Congressman Erik Paulsen said that Minnesota middle-class families and small businesses should be excited about the plan. "After more than three decades since the last major tax reform, the framework released today outlines how fixing our broken tax code will lead to more jobs and bigger paychecks. Tax reform is about one thing: Restoring the hope of prosperity for American workers, their families, and, most importantly, the next generation." (MPR News)

2. After a lengthy public hearing, the St. Paul City Council voted 5-2 Wednesday to approve a sweeping master plan and zoning layout for the 135-acre site that was once home to Ford Motor Co.’s Twin Cities Assembly Plant on Ford Parkway. The city plans envision up to 4,000 new housing units, 20 percent of which will be designated affordable housing, as well as office and commercial structures.  The plan has drawn both tough opposition and strong support from residents throughout Highland Park and the city. (Pioneer Press)

3. The Minnesota Department of Transportation is standing by its decision to shut down I-35W between downtown Minneapolis and the Crosstown this weekend despite three major sporting events downtown on Sunday.  More than 100,000 people are expected for the Twin Cities Marathon, a Vikings game and a Twins game. And anybody coming from the south metro will have to find another route as the main artery into downtown will be closed from 10 p.m. Friday until 5 a.m. Monday. Other weekend events include a Gophers football game Saturday and Twins games both Friday and Saturday nights. The decision to shut down I-35W on a such a heavy sports weekend has drivers asking why the closure could not be pushed off another week when the events calendar will be much lighter. (Star Tribune)

4. This fall's annual fish count on Mille Lacs Lake is under close watch as the Department of Natural Resources tries to figure out what's causing the walleye population to decline. With tighter walleye regulations on Mille Lacs the last few years, the DNR's work has come in for a lot of criticism. The data collected during the survey currently underway will be used to determine next year's safe harvest limits. And as an effort to help rebuild trust outside experts will review the DNR's science and management of Mille Lacs. (MPR News)

5. The demise of the latest effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act was, of course, not the end of the debate over health care. And the clock is ticking on funding for some other health programs. Some Minnesotans are closely watching for signs of progress in Washington on programs that underwrite care for the uninsured and for low-income children. Unless reauthorized and funded, both are set to end on Saturday when the federal fiscal year ends. Congressional observers don’t expect these other health care programs to get legislative attention until October, creating uncertainty among health care providers as well leaving a hole in Minnesota’s state budget. (Star Tribune)

6. The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that part of a statute that allows people who are wrongfully convicted to seek compensation is unconstitutional. But to remedy it, the majority severed a section of the law that now leaves anyone who had their convictions reversed or vacated ineligible to seek payment. Justice David Lillehaug disagreed with the fix, saying it excludes a class of innocent people that the Legislature intended to compensate. Minnesota's exoneration compensation statute was enacted in 2014 to set up a framework for compensating people who had served prison time after wrongful convictions. Under the law, an individual can seek between $50,000 and $100,000 per year of imprisonment. (AP via MPR News)

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