Gov. Mark Dayton speaks during Sen. Tom Bakk’s annual fundraiser for Iron Range food shelves. Tim Pugmire | MPR News

The economic woes of Minnesota’s Iron Range were front and center Monday during an annual fundraising event in St. Paul.

Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, hosts the fundraiser to help stock food shelves in the northeastern part of the state. With the layoffs and mine closures still piling up, Bakk stressed that the Iron Range is going through a different kind of economic downturn. He said it’s unclear whether there’s any rebound ahead for the slumping steel industry.

“People up north understand it’s different, and they are very, very worried,” Bakk said.

Bakk and DFL Gov. Mark Dayton want a special legislative session in the coming weeks to extend unemployment benefits for several hundred laid-off steelworkers. He said it would provide families some extra time to figure out how to survive.

Republicans who control the Minnesota House still aren’t on board.

House Majority Leader Joyce Peppin, R-Rogers, said there is little interest in a special session among members of her caucus. Peppin, who was attending Bakk’s fundraiser, said House Republicans don’t have a big appetite for a special session, but they plan to discuss it during a private caucus meeting Tuesday in St. Paul.

“It seems as though every month we’ve had a new proposal. One for fish, one for REAL ID, this one and several different ideas,” Peppin said. “So there have been so many proposals, that I think members are a little burned out on the different proposals.”

House Republicans also still want assurances from Gov. Dayton that he won’t delay two northern Minnesota construction projects: the PolyMet copper-nickel mine and the Sandpiper oil pipeline. GOP leaders see those as long-term economic solutions for the region.

Dayton, who also attended the fundraiser, said there have been no delays by his administration on either project. He said he plans to emphasize that point in a letter to House Speaker Kurt Daudt.

“That should clear the way, hopefully,” Dayton said. “I’m hopeful we’ll have a (special) session.”

Dayton, Bakk and the state’s Congressional delegation have requested a meeting with President Obama to discuss possible federal action to help the domestic steel industry.

Gov. Mark Dayton said Monday unless Essar Steel starts paying its bills, he will press the company to immediately repay a $66 million state loan.

Dayton is giving Essar Steel until the end of the day Wednesday to pay in full all of its Minnesota contractors and other vendors.

He first issued the ultimatum during a phone conversation with Madhu Vuppuluri, President and CEO of Essar Steel Minnesota, last week.

If Essar doesn’t meet the deadline, Dayton said he would call the state’s loan and demand immediate repayment. The same threat applies if the company fails to stay current on vendor payments in the future.

Essar is building a $1.9 billion taconite production facility in Nashwauk. The state loan paid for infrastructure improvements around the site.

Dayton’s office said company officials failed to fulfill assurances made in mid-October that they would pay vendors by October 31.

Good morning, and welcome to Monday after a long Thanksgiving weekend. I hope you had a good one. Let’s take a look at some Digest items you may have missed while you were digesting.

1. Hennepin County prosecutors are expected to make a decision today on charges in the shooting of five people last week near Black Lives Matter protests in north Minneapolis.  (MPR News)

2. The events of the past few weeks in have Minnesota Democrats wanting to add measures to address racial disparities to a special legislative session agenda that would also include unemployment benefits for Iron Range workers. But the disparity issue may be too much to pack into a one day special session. (AP via MPR News)

3. Special session or not, these are tough times on the Iron Range. (Star Tribune)

4. “A pretty poorly adjusted guy,” is how one person who knows him describes the man suspected of the shooting at a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic that killed three people and wounded nine. (New York Times)

5. Abortion rights supporters believe there’s a direct connection between the shooting and political rhetoric condemning Planned Parenthood. The Republican presidential candidates deny that. (Washington Post)