SOTU day

Welcome back! 28 degrees at 5 a.m. with a high of 34….SOTU...the Gov...Walz to Armed Services....Enigma.

It’s enshrined in the Constitution: “He shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient….”

Though only in its current in-person form since Woodrow Wilson, the State of the Union is an important enough tradition for us to do a switcheroo and start with national politics today and the Obama SOTU, 44’s penultimate.

The Times’ Peter Baker with some analysis: With the economic recovery finally picking up steam and the deficit collapsing (did you know the deficit is collapsing? The public doesn’t seem to) Obama gets to...

“...declare victory over the economic hard times that dominated his first six years in office and advocate using the nation’s healthier finances to tackle long-deferred issues like education and income inequality. In presenting a series of initiatives aimed at the middle class, Mr. Obama hopes to pivot finally from the politics of adversity and austerity that have frustrated him for much of his tenure.”

As Baker notes, with Republicans coming off their big 2014 election victory and controlling both houses of Congress, it’s unlikely Obama will get much of the program passed. (The proposals involve tax hikes on the rich to pay for tax cuts and programs for the middle class.)

But what he’s really trying to do is frame the debate for the next two years and ultimately the race to determine his successor.

A Minneapolis mom will be in the First Lady’s box, Allison Sherry reports.

Coming back home….

At 10:30, Gov. Mark Dayton will hold a news conference to announce a big piece of his 2015 budget. Governor’s Press Briefing Room, 116 Veterans Service Building, 20 West 12th Street, St. Paul. At 12:15, he’ll provide remarks at the Greater Mankato Day at the Capitol (DoubleTree Saint Paul Downtown Hotel, Town Square A, 411 Minnesota St.)

Lt. Gov. Tina Smith will travel to Rochester, where she will meet with Rochester city officials regarding the Destination Medical Center Development Plan.

With everyone talkin’ outstate this session, Bradley Peterson, lobbyist for the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities; Dan Dorman, executive director of the Greater Minnesota Partnership; and, Marty Seifert, do a news conference via conference call about outstate priorities today at 11 a.m.

And Don Davis on the “State of Rural Minnesota” report.

At the State Capitol

Senate Finance gets a presentation on the November forecast from Minnesota Management and Budget, 9 a.m.

House Taxes looks at HF63: Active trade or business income maximum rate of 7.85 percent at 10:15 a.m.

Senate in session at 11.

House in session at noon.

Senate Judiciary with some mental health legislation. (Speaking of, read the Strib’s Chris Serres on changes in how we’re treating the mentally ill.)

House Mining and Outdoor Recreation (in some circles, this is being called “Rocks, Jocks and Glocks,”) will have an informational session on wolves at 2:45.

Senate Higher Ed and Job Growth with a higher ed funding hearing at 4.

Other committees holding informational sessions.

Full schedule.   

Federal conformity and disaster relief probably coming this week.

MPR looks at the nursing home lobby’s attempt for new money in these better budget times.

MinnPost previews education issues of the session.

Here’s a Strib wrap-up of MLK Jr. Day events, including a march in St. Paul estimated at more than 2,000.

On that subject, interesting to ponder the role race will play in the 2016 election. The new Democratic coalition requires heavy turnout from people of color, even as Republicans such as Rand Paul try new Republican outreach efforts to those communities. Meanwhile, the issues surrounding criminal justice and the Drug War are evolving rapidly.

And back to Washington

Rep. Tim Walz, tired of inaction on Transportation Committee, has asked for and received an appointment to Armed Services, Sherry reports.

Frustrated by eight years of inaction on the House Transportation Committee, Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn., the highest ranking enlisted soldier to ever serve in Congress, is making a midcareer move to the House Armed Services Committee — a perch he thinks will be more productive and satisfying.

Walz secured his new slot earlier this month after lobbying Democratic leadership. On Armed Services, he will be charged with annually approving the military spending budget.

“Armed Services is, whether you agree with it or not, the one area where things get done,” Walz said. “Budgets go through, things happen.”

Release: Rep. Tom Emmer will serve on the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations as well as Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere for the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Our own Hubert H. Humphrey gets a lead role in this fascinating Sam Tanenhaus New Yorker essay about the collapse of bipartisanship and the power of Congress. One thing I thought missing, however, was a discussion of the historical and geographic anomalies (the Civil War) that led to bipartisanship in the first place.

Finally, I can’t imagine a better argument for improved STEM education than Oscar-nominated “The Imitation Game,” which I saw this weekend. Solving the Nazi’s Enigma encryption shaved two years off the war, saving millions of lives.