Daily Digest: House GOP outlines plan for surplus

Good morning, and welcome to Friday. Other than the major snowstorm, I'm kind of looking forward to the weekend. Anyway, here's the Digest.

1. House leaders outline plans for budget surplus. Minnesota House Republican leaders on Thursday proposed using most of the surplus to make changes to the state tax code and pay for road and bridge construction projects. The combined $208 million — about half earmarked for each of those two areas — would consume much of the $329 million projected budget surplus. Lawmakers are making adjustments to the budget this year after setting a two-year framework last year. And in an election year, they’re concentrating on popular programs or the most-pressing needs. The blueprint is only the first step. In coming weeks, House members will designate the money with more specifics. The Senate, also controlled by Republicans, will probably pass a different package. Those two proposals will have to be melded and negotiated with DFL Gov. Mark Dayton before anything is final. (MPR News)

2. Dayton pledges Minnesota will be ready for Real ID. Gov.  Mark Dayton pledged Thursday that this fall’s launch of the Real ID driver’s license in Minnesota will be smoother than other recent high-profile computer system roll-outs. Dayton appraised the Real ID progress in the wake of the botched debut of a new vehicle licensing system recently and the problem-plagued MNsure launch a few years ago. By October, Minnesota will start issuing the new security enhanced driver’s licenses to meet federal requirements. Applicants must do more to prove their identity. Dayton said at a news conference he’s confident the Real ID program will be ready to go. “I would give Minnesotans my assurance we are going to have this taken care of. I think we have been on top of this all the way. It’s been managed well. We have a good relationship with the contractor. We’ve found a reputable, private contractor to put this together,” he said. “I mean everything is tracking.” Dayton said the firm Minnesota is using helped seven other states update their driver’s license program to comply with a 2005 federal law. (MPR News)

3. Stauber leads in 8th District fundraising. Republican Pete Stauber surpassed a quarter-million dollars in fundraising for the first quarter of 2018 in his bid for Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District seat, his campaign reported Thursday. Stauber spokeswoman Caroline Tarwid said the number is “above $270K.” “Team Stauber is very pleased with our strong Q1 numbers,” Tarwid said. “We are seeing great support in all 18 counties and real enthusiasm to get Pete to Washington. Our campaign is not slowing down, and these numbers prove that Pete has what it takes to win in November.” Jason Metsa, one of five Democratic-Farmer-Labor candidates in the race, raised more than $125,000 in the first quarter, his campaign reported in a news release this week. Joe Radinovich, another DFL candidate, reported about $108,000 raised in the first quarter. The five candidates vying for the DFL endorsement will meet in Duluth on Saturday for the much-anticipated 8th District DFL convention. (Duluth News Tribune)

4. Child abuse and children of color. Two cases of horrific child abuse have grabbed headlines across Minnesota this year and put a spotlight back on systems meant to protect kids. But statewide data show that child maltreatment cases have been increasing in recent years. And some say that children of color are over-represented in the child protection system and their families are treated unfairly by child protection workers and the courts. "Every single day we hear cases of this stuff happening inside the system — that it is essentially a factory," said Sen. Jeff Hayden, DFL-Minneapolis. "We have to kind of get that to stop." Earlier this week, Hayden and Rep. Rena Moran, DFL-St. Paul, stood with child protection advocates and several black parents at the Capitol to announce legislation they believe is part of the solution. The House and Senate bills seek to prevent "the arbitrary and unnecessary removal of African-American children from their families."

5. This is distressing. For seven decades, “never forget” has been a rallying cry of the Holocaust remembrance movement. But a survey released Thursday, on Holocaust Remembrance Day, found that many adults lack basic knowledge of what happened — and this lack of knowledge is more pronounced among millennials, whom the survey defined as people ages 18 to 34. Thirty-one percent of Americans, and 41 percent of millennials, believe that two million or fewer Jews were killed in the Holocaust; the actual number is around six million. Forty-one percent of Americans, and 66 percent of millennials, cannot say what Auschwitz was. And 52 percent of Americans wrongly think Hitler came to power through force. (New York Times)

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