Daily Digest: Tax bill, sports betting, distracted driving

Good morning. Time to settle in with your Tuesday Digest and catch up on the stories you may have missed.

1. House DFLers say tax bill will "restore some fairness," GOP says it would "lead to ruin."Democrats in the Minnesota House proposed a tax bill Monday that would raise $1.2 billion in new revenue, largely from big business. DFL leaders stressed that the money is needed for education, health care and other new spending plans. But Senate Republicans oppose the tax increases and are digging in for the fight ahead. House Speaker Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, said public schools have been underfunded due to Republican-backed tax policies, including recent federal changes, that she believes favor the rich. "Tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations have exploded income inequality, and our tax bill works to restore some fairness," she said. The DFL proposal would create a new 3 percent tax on capital gains that exceed $500,000. It also takes aim at corporations that currently use overseas tax havens. "The House tax plan is disastrous and will lead to ruin in this state," said Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R- Lino Lakes, the chair of the Senate taxes committee. (MPR News)

2. Tribes weighing in on legalizing sports betting. Native American tribes have emerged as key players in the legislative debates over whether states should legalize sports betting, with some opposing the idea because it could threaten their casinos and others supporting legalization only if they retain a monopoly. In many states, tribes are fighting sports betting or taking a go-slow approach because they worry it might force them to reopen decades-old agreements that give them exclusive rights to operate casinos and offer certain forms of gambling. “The tribes have a major-league seat at the table,” said Bill Pascrell III, a lobbyist for gambling interests seeking legalized sports betting across the country. In Minnesota, a bill seeking to legalize sports betting cleared its first hurdle earlier this year, passing a committee in the state Senate. But that’s likely to be as far as the measure goes, in large part because the state’s politically potent tribes oppose it. (Associated Press)

3. Lawmakers poised to vote on distracted driving bill. As soon as Tuesday, the Legislature will vote on a bill to make Minnesota the 18th state where it's illegal to hold a cellphone while operating a vehicle. A House-Senate conference committee finalized the proposal Monday after lawmakers spent many years of debating whether it was the right way to stem a growing public safety hazard. Under the bill, which Gov. Tim Walz has said he would sign, the new law takes effect on Aug. 1. "We're making history today and in this session. This has been a long time in coming," said Rep. Frank Hornstein, DFL-Minneapolis, a sponsor of the bill. "But we also know hands-free is not always distraction-free and so we want to also send a message to Minnesotans to just put your phones down and concentrate and have as few distractions as possible to ensure a safe ride," he added. That message would come through the increased ability of law enforcement to make a stop if they see a driver holding a device. Violations could result in a fine. (MPR News)

4. Klobuchar releases fundraising numbers. Minnesota U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar raised $5.2 million in the first seven weeks of her presidential campaign, slightly exceeding the fundraising total announced Sunday by New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker. Her average online contribution was $40, and 85 percent of donors gave less than $100, Klobuchar’s campaign announced Monday. Fundraising success is an early measure of presidential candidates’ viability, and the number of individual donors is a test of grassroots support. Klobuchar connected with “almost 100,000 new supporters online,” according to her first-quarter report to the Federal Election Commission. Klobuchar said at an April 1 forum that she has defeated candidates with “a lot more money than me and a lot more connections than me. And I did it because I have grit.” (Star Tribune)

5. Walz renews challenge of Line 3. Gov. Tim Walz said Monday that his administration has renewed its challenge to a regulatory panel's approval of Enbridge Energy's plan to replace its aging Line 3 crude oil pipeline across northern Minnesota, saying he wants to let the legal process play out. Walz told reporters the Commerce Department refiled its appeal last week with the Minnesota Court of Appeals, which had dismissed earlier appeals in the case on procedural grounds. The independent Public Utilities Commission last month gave its final reaffirmation of its earlier approvals of the project, clearing the way for the department and the environmental and tribal groups to refile appeals that began under previous Gov Mark Dayton's administration. "We think that that appeal should simply be heard, and that's fair," he said. The Democratic governor said the state's appeal doesn't delay the timeline for the permitting process for or construction on the replacement pipeline because the state isn't seeking an injunction.  (Associated Press)

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