Daily Digest: Endorsement race in St. Paul

Good morning and happy Friday. Still no verdict in the Yanez trial. Here’s the Digest.

1. Four candidates are heading into a potentially decisive political battle at a St. Paul middle school Saturday when the city’s dominant DFL Party is gathering to endorse candidates. The mayor’s office in the state’s second biggest city is open because incumbent Chris Coleman isn’t seeking a fourth term and is running for governor. But after months — even years — of campaigning, only one candidate has even half of the pledged support needed to win the DFL stamp of approval, which has been key to winning the city’s highest office in the past.  And ranked choice voting ups the stakes. There’s no guarantee a contender without the endorsement could get a one-on-one shot against the party favorite. (MPR News)

2. Planners of a 2018 Super Bowl-timed ice palace on the Capitol lawn are going for a record-breaker, with a structure so tall they’d need a special variance from the state to pull it off. The St. Paul Festival and Heritage Foundation and an architecture firm behind the palace provided a sneak peak Thursday to the Capitol Area Architectural and Planning Board ahead of a full-blown announcement in coming weeks. They said the goal is for it to reach 170 feet at its apex, which would break a current world record of 166 feet set in Minnesota in 1992 — also during a Super Bowl. (MPR News)

3. One of the Wall Street firms that confers debt ratings on states and other public borrowers has put Minnesota on a credit watch over concerns that a dispute between the Legislature and Gov. Mark Dayton could impact debt payments. S&P Global Ratings, which rates Minnesota’s creditworthiness a notch below perfect, issued a statement Thursday that it is monitoring the state’s situation and could lower the rating if a stalemate isn’t resolved within the next few months. A downgrade would make it more expensive for the state to borrow for public construction projects because ratings affect interests rates. (MPR News)

4. One provision of a new law that spends $378 million in taxpayer dollars to create jobs and spur economic development is an unusual $150,000 payment to a single fishing resort. The money is slated for “small resort businesses located in the city of Isle with less than $350,000 in annual revenue, at least four rental units, which are open during both summer and winter months, and whose business was adversely impacted by a decline in walleye fishing on Lake Mille Lacs,” according to the language of the bill. The money is intended for Hunter Winfield’s Resort, a small outfit on Mille Lacs that caters to walleye anglers. The resort owners say they were hurt badly by the Department of Natural Resources’ decision to end the 2015 season in August to preserve the walleye population. (Star Tribune)

5. Minnesota has joined a national investigation of drug makers to determine their role in the opioid epidemic. Attorney General Lori Swanson announced Thursday that she’s part of a bi-partisan group of state attorneys general investigating pharmaceutical companies. The investigation is looking into the potential culpability of drug makers in how they market and sell opioid prescription painkillers. Sales and overdoses of prescriptions opioids have quadrupled since 1999, and nearly two million Americans are believe to addicted, according to Swanson’s office. (MPR News)

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