Sheila Engelmeier quoted in the Minneapolis Star Tribune

MORNING HOT DISH

School safety proposals continue

Good morning!

State lawmakers will continue to debut school safety plans this week. House committees will discuss various proposals today, including allowing schools to dip into facilities maintenance dollars to bolster school security. Gov. Mark Dayton plans to present his school safety proposal tomorrow.

Talks about the state’s troubled vehicle registration and licensing system will likely start early today. The Minnesota Licensing and Registration System (MNLARS) is expected to be one of the topics Dayton and legislators discuss at a bipartisan breakfast. The MNLARS debates won’t stop there. The House Transportation Finance Committee will hear a proposal from the committee’s chairman that would force Dayton to draw $10 million from his executive agency budget to continue repairs to the system.

Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Vernon Center, introduced a bill yesterday that would abolish Minnesota Information Technology Services (MNIT), one of the two agencies responsible for the MNLARS roll out. Many legislators said they do not trust MNIT after the agency ignored warning signs and debuted MNLARS. Rosen’s bill would replace the agency with a division of information technology in the Department of Administration, and add annual audits of the division’s projects. A statement from MNIT Commissioner Johanna Clyborne: "This bill would stall MNIT’s progress moving state government to modern and cloud-based solutions, which are a fundamental necessity to building a secure, digital government that is responsive to citizen needs."

Employment lawyer Sheila Engelmeier suggested Monday that the Legislature would benefit from a hotline where people could file anonymous complaints about sexual harassment. She spoke to a subcommittee that is reviewing how the Legislature handles such harassment. Legislators on the subcommittee were wary of the anonymity, and the possibility that someone could file a politically-motivated complaint. But Engelmeier said the partisan dynamics of the Legislature are not all that different from office politics at private businesses, and good investigators could mitigate those concerns.

On a related note, lawmakers introduced legislation Monday that would create an independent task force on sexual harassment -- something DFL Reps. Erin Maye Quade and Jamie Becker-Finn have been pushing for since stories of sexual harassment in the Legislature emerged last year.

Xcel Energy customers could see some savings after the agency benefitted from federal tax cuts. The company expects to require about $140 million less in revenue for its 2018 operations, Mike Hughlett reports. "We intend to ensure our customers receive the full value of the tax reform benefits," Xcel said in a filing with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, which investigated how the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act affected utilities.

In Washington, President Trump is facing backlash from both international trading partners and congressional Republicans over his plan to impose tariffs on aluminum and steel imports. Republican critics warned that workers in industries that rely on those imports could suffer, costs of goods could increase and other countries would retaliate. Trump said he’s "not backing down."

The Washington Post answers a question you might find yourself wondering today: Who is Sam Nunberg? The former Trump aide went on a media blitz yesterday, telling a number of news outlets that he was subpoenaed by special counsel Robert Mueller, but will refuse to appear in front of the grand jury looking into Russian interference in the 2016 election. "Arrest me," he said, but then apparently changed course later in the day and told the AP he would find a way to comply.

Drive safe!

-- Jessie Van Berkel