Daily Digest: Omar proposes student loan relief

Good morning. Time to get Tuesday started with your Daily Digest.

1. Omar joins Sanders in pushing student loan forgiveness. Millions of Americans no matter their family income would see all college debt wiped out under a proposal Monday by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Minnesota U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar. Sanders, a Democratic candidate for president and Omar, a Democrat from Minneapolis, propose clearing some 45 million Americans of a cumulative $1.6 trillion in unpaid college loans. It would be funded by a tax on Wall Street speculation. Critics, including Minnesota U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a rival presidential candidate, call the plan unrealistic and unaffordable. But backers say students are drowning in debt through no fault of their own. "Student debt is not the result of bad choices or behavior," Omar said at a Capitol Hill news conference with Sanders and several House colleagues. "It is the result of a system that tells students to get an education and go to college in order to have a stable life, but then does not provide the resources to afford that education." (Star Tribune)

2. Anderson seeks state help to expand Cottage Grove window factory. Window manufacturer Renewal by Andersen is in line for up to $1.25 million in state assistance toward a proposed factory expansion in Cottage Grove. The company has already sought necessary clearance from city officials for the planned 350,000-square foot facility that would include manufacturing, warehouse and office space. Renewal by Anderson, an offshoot of the bigger Andersen Corp., would be doubling its physical presence in Cottage Grove. The $35 million project is expected to lead to 125 more jobs at the plant over three years. A state notice published Monday said the company could be eligible for a few economic awards if it follows through on the building and hiring plans laid out: up to $450,000 through the Minnesota Investment Fund loan program, $387,000 from the job creation fund and $413,000 in a capital investment rebate. (MPR News)

3. Ellison says office will defend state laws restricting abortion. Attorney General Keith Ellison intends to defend a slate of state laws restricting abortion access against a recent legal challenge, despite his personal views on the issue. “My job is to defend the laws of the state of Minnesota without regard to my own personal opinions,” Ellison said during a forum in Fergus Falls, Minn., on Friday. “That’s the job that I have, that’s what I signed up for, and that’s what I’m going to do.” The comments, prompted by a question about how he will approach such cases given his history of supporting abortion access, marked the DFL attorney general’s most definitive public statement on the lawsuit since it was filed in late May. The lawsuit, brought by legal advocacy groups Gender Justice and the Lawyering Project on behalf of two anonymous health professionals and First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis, is aimed at overturning a series of laws supporters say deny women access to constitutionally protected abortion services and “impose burdensome and unnecessary restrictions” on providers. (Star Tribune)

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4. St. Paul council member asks for "understanding" for past remarks. A St. Paul City Council member who posted anti-gay comments on his Facebook page several years before he took office responded to calls for a public apology with a statement asking for “understanding and compassion” of his religious beliefs. Kassim Busuri, who represents the city’s Sixth Ward as an interim council member, said in a news release Sunday he believes “there is a fracture within the Muslim community and the LGBTQ community” and that “condemning someone for past comments is not the answer.” “As more members of the Somali community become active in the Democratic Party and process, a level of understanding and compassion should be reached for those who fully practice Islam,” he said. “Equally, there should be a level of understanding and compassion to be reached for those from the LGBTQ community.” Busuri, who is Muslim, is St. Paul’s only Somali council member. (Star Tribune)

5. Craig seeks limits on lobbying by former members of Congress. Rep. Angie Craig said that after she leaves Congress, she’s never going to become a lobbyist. And if she has her way, neither will any other member. On Friday, Craig introduced the Halt Unchecked Member Benefits with Lobbying Elimination  — or HUMBLE — Act. The bill is a grab bag of anti-corruption and accountability reforms: It would ban members from holding individual stock, ban them from purchasing first-class airline tickets with office travel expenses, ban former members of Congress from using congressional facilities, and perhaps most critically, ban members from becoming lobbyists. “At the end of the day, the only influence I want is the influence I have when doing town halls,” Craig said in an interview. “The only influence I want are from the panels that I host back in the Second Congressional District, where we have advocates, and patients and doctors talking about the cost of prescription drugs.” (MinnPost)