Good morning, and welcome to Monday. Here's the Digest.
1. Attorney General Lori Swanson will skip the race for governor and run for reelection instead. “I am a candidate for re-election as Attorney General,” she told supporters in an email. She said she appreciated the encouragement she was getting to run for higher office but said she has too much important work on her plate. “I must focus all my energy and attention on that work,” Swanson wrote, citing cases against pharmaceutical companies, for-profit colleges and President Donald Trump’s restrictions on travelers from certain foreign countries. Swanson was viewed as a candidate who could have vaulted instantly into the lead pack for governor. There were also a number of Democrats lined up to run for attorney general had she decided to move on. (MPR News)
2. It's primary election day in two legislative districts. There are primaries on the Republican side in House District 23B and Senate District 54. Special elections are needed in both districts because the incumbent lawmakers resigned after being accused of sexual misconduct. The House district includes parts of Blue Earth, LeSueur, Waseca and Watonwan counties. Republican delegates met last month and endorsed Jeremy Munson as their candidate for the February 12 special election. He's being challenged by Watonwan County Commissioner Scott Sanders, who has the backing of the former occupant of the House seat, Tony Cornish. (MPR News)
3. In the wake of the divisive 2016 presidential election, third party activism has grown in Southeast Minnesota. The Rochester chapter of the Libertarian Party launched in spring 2017. In the fall of 2016, a Green Party chapter was established in Winona. Meanwhile, the Independence Party of Minnesota is seeking to boost its presence in southern Minnesota. So what's behind the increased interest? Independence Party Chairman Philip Fuehrer has a theory. "I think people are getting more and more fed up with the duopoly — the Democrats and the Republicans — and the gamesmanship both parties play. So I think the doors are opening up," he said. (Rochester Post Bulletin)
4. Under the strain of a mental health care system that needs more beds and other capacity, county officials want state lawmakers to make funding a priority in the upcoming legislative session. Mental health workers say the treatment system has gaping holes at the "front door" and the "back door." The "front door" is where people go when they have a mental health crisis, often a hospital emergency room. At the "back door" of the mental health care system, workers say there is not enough housing for people released from a hospital or other facility that still need monitoring and support. Without that support, people can soon face another crisis requiring hospitalization. (MPR News)
5. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety in 2015 paid $117,500 to a woman over sexual pressure she said she endured by a Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension special agent. The woman's identity was withheld because she worked for the BCA under an assumed name as a confidential informant. There was no admission of wrongdoing in the settlement, a common feature of the agreements reached by state agencies over harassment allegations. The information came to light Friday as part of a state data request by MPR Newsand other media regarding sexual harassment payouts by state government agencies. The data show Minnesota agencies have paid out $709,000 in settlements since 2015 related to seven sexual harassment cases. (MPR News)