Updated with Daudt comments.

For the second time in five weeks, DFL Gov. Mark Dayton has closed the door on a potential special legislative session to pass a tax relief bill and a package of public construction projects.

The on again, off again negotiations that began four months ago came to their latest halt Friday in a letter Dayton sent to Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt. In the letter, Dayton noted the fast-approaching election and the deep disagreements that remain on the funding of transportation projects in the bonding bill.

“I have reluctantly concluded that the time for agreement on a special session has expired,” Dayton wrote.

Dayton announced back in August a similar end to special session talks. At that time, the major sticking point was funding for the Southwest light rail project between Minneapolis and Eden Prairie. But three local government entities stepped up with an alternative solution.

With the light rail issue out of the way, Dayton and Daudt began talking about again about a special session to pass a tax bill and bonding bill.

But Dayton and Senate Democrats oppose the House GOP proposal to prioritize specific transportation projects in the bonding bill. Dayton said the earmarking is “unacceptable” and runs counter to “long-established protocol.”

Dayton emphasized his concern with an attached letter signed by current and former chairs of the House and Senate transportation committees.

The eight Democrats and three Republicans said the proposed earmarking would be a “historic mistake.”

Daudt shot back with a statement, accusing Dayton of walking away from good bills. He also blamed House Democrats for the breakdown in talks, accusing them of “putting their own selfish political interests before those of Minnesota families.”

Angie Craig, the DFL nominee for Congress in Minnesota’s 2nd District, listens to Lexi Reed Holtum talk about the growing problem of opioid abuse. Brian Bakst | MPR News

Democratic congressional candidate Angie Craig aimed Friday to elevate the issue of prescription painkiller and heroin addiction in one of Minnesota’s most-watched campaigns Friday, pledging to take a lead role in Washington on efforts to fight a growing problem.

Craig, a former medical device company executive, said during a roundtable of invited first responders and abuse experts that the issue is personal. She shared the story of her adopted son whose birth mother died from a prescription drug overdose.

“This is one of those issues where we better be able to find common ground in Washington because this opioid use and the epidemic we’re seeing, it crosses all political boundaries,” Craig said.

Her Republican opponent, Jason Lewis, has been striking a similar tone.

In early August, Lewis said in a web video on criminal justice issues that he supports a bill approved this summer by Congress that would spend more on prevention, treatment and other efforts to combat drug addiction. Lewis said he also favors reducing punishments for low-level drug crimes.

“The bottom line is we don’t have enough jail space, and we need a bit more compassion. You and I have all had family members, relatives, acquaintances who got caught in the ugly cycle of substance abuse and drug addiction,” Lewis said. “We need to do something for these people. We need to help them.”

Overdose deaths from painkillers and heroin are on the rise in Minnesota and nationally. At the start of the century, opioids were blamed for three deaths in the congressional district south of the Twin Cities, according to statistics cited during the Craig roundtable. Last year, overdoses caused 50 deaths _ at least half from prescription drugs or heroin.

Craig Woolery, public safety director for Cottage Grove, said overdose response calls and deaths in the city this year have already surpassed the number of last year.

Craig heard recommendations from her invited panel in Cottage Grove. Among them: Devote more federal money to painkiller and heroin treatment; work to lower the cost drugs used to counteract overdoses; and expand educational programs for doctors who prescribe painkillers to make sure they convey the risks to patients.

Capt. Chris Parsons, president of the Minnesota Professional Fire Fighters association, said first responders are heavily involved in the drug battle but worried about being able to keep up, especially being equipped to administer medicine to counteract an overdose.

“Naloxone costs money. The increase in the number of responses strains an already strained system,” Parsons said. “This just can’t be another unfunded mandate.”

Good morning, and welcome to Friday. The first presidential debate is coming up on Monday, and MPR News is holding a debate watching party at Nomad World Pub in Minneapolis. The doors open at 7:30, and the debate begins at 8. If you want to go just sign up here so we can get a head count. Here’s the Digest.

1.  Minnesota Senate Minority Leader David Hann has high hopes of guiding Republicans to the six-seat gain they’d need to win control of the Senate  in November’s election. But Democrats say Hann will have a hard enough time winning his own race against retired high school teacher Steve Cwodzinski. DFL leaders say are they targeting the powerful incumbent and attempting to portray Hann as out of sync with his suburban district’s voters on light-rail transit and other issues. Hann argues that other topics — health care and taxes among them – are of greater concern to area voters, and he says he  isn’t convinced Democrats will actually invest in a drive to topple him. (MPR News)

2. Early voting begins today in Minnesota. Technically it’s using an absentee ballot without having to give a reason. It’s the first time it’s been allowed in a presidential election. Supporters hope it will cut down on lines on Election Day and make voting easier for everyone. (MPR News)

3. St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman vetoed an 8.8 percent property tax increase limit the St. Paul City Council passed earlier this week. Coleman wanted a maximum increase of 7 percent. He said it wouldn’t have to be that high if the Legislature and governor could have agreed on sending out some local government aid. The city was expecting $3 million. (Pioneer Press)

4. A Minneapolis city council member who had an ethics complaint filed against her after she tweeted e-mails and contact information about some people who were upset with her is warning her fellow council members not to uphold the complaint.  Alondra Cano threatened to release evidence about her colleagues’ political internet use if the council holds a public vote upholding the complaint. Back in December Cano responded on Twitter to some people who were angry she took part in a Black Lives Matter protest. (Star Tribune)

5. Two Democratic lawmakers with access to classified intelligence say Russia is “making a serious and concerted effort to influence the U.S. election.” Their statement says, “At the least, this effort is intended to sow doubt about the security of our election and may well be intended to influence the outcomes. We believe that orders for the Russian intelligence agencies to conduct such actions could come only from very senior levels of the Russian government.” (Washington Post)