Good morning, and happy Friday. It’s been another busy week, hasn’t it? Here’s the Digest.
1. Swanson to sue over family separations. Attorney General Lori Swanson said Thursday that Minnesota will join with other states preparing to sue the Trump administration over the “inhumane treatment of children” who have been separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. Swanson, who is also a DFL candidate for governor, said she and other officials around the country are concerned about the welfare of the more than 2,000 children who have been separated from their parents. Those separations followed a federal “zero-tolerance” policy for people attempting to cross the border outside of official checkpoints. Swanson said President Donald Trump’s announcement this week that he would stop the practice of family separation left a number of unanswered questions — and that a federal court should step in to ensure the children are reunited with their families. “Simply put, there is too much chaos and too many unanswered questions surrounding the treatment of these children, necessitating the involvement of a federal court to ensure that constitutional safeguards are being met,” she said in a statement released by her office. (Star Tribune)
2. Lawsuit filed over Twin Metals leases. A group of nine northeastern Minnesota businesses and an environmental group sued the U.S. Department of the Interior Thursday, seeking to overturn the reinstatement last month of two federal mineral leases to a company seeking to build a copper-nickel mine near the border of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The plaintiffs, which include a number of canoe outfitters and a resort around the wilderness, argue that the reinstatement of the leases to Twin Metals Minnesota was unlawful, and poses an immediate threat to their businesses, the outdoor recreation economy and the environment. The Interior Department reinstated Twin Metals’ expired leases early last month. The Obama administration had declined to renew them in late 2016, citing the potential harm to the Boundary Waters. The proposed mine site is upstream from the popular wilderness area. (MPR News)
3. Big retailers hail Supreme Court sales tax decision. Minnesota’s biggest retailers heralded the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Thursday to clear the way for states to require companies such as Amazon and Wayfair to collect sales tax. Brick-and-mortar businesses, including Target Corp. and Best Buy Co. Inc., have long complained that they are disadvantaged by having to charge sales taxes while many of their online competitors do not. States have said that they are missing out on tens of billions of dollars in annual revenue under a 1992 Supreme Court ruling that helped spur the rise of internet shopping. On Thursday, the court voted 5-4 to overrule its decision on Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, which had said that the Constitution bars states from requiring businesses to collect sales taxes unless they have a substantial connection to the state. (Star Tribune)
4. New charges for accused mosque bombers. A grand jury has added civil rights and hate crimes violations to charges three Illinois men face in the bombing of a mosque in the Minneapolis suburb of Bloomington. Federal prosecutors announced the new five-count indictment Thursday against 47-year-old Michael Hari, 29-year-old Michael McWhorter and 23-year-old Joe Morris. They were previously charged with arson in Minnesota. They’re being held in Illinois on separate charges. They’re accused of traveling from Clarence, Illinois, to carry out the Aug. 5 pipe-bombing at the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center. The explosion damaged an office just as morning prayers were about to begin, but nobody was hurt. (MPR News)
5. Enbridge Energy says its customers want more oil, and if a new pipeline doesn’t bring it to them, it will get there on trains instead. “You’re not stopping any oil from coming out of the ground. They’re putting it on the rails and driving it right next to your elementary schools, right next to your nursing homes, right through small towns all across the state,” Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, said during a speech last month. To many, that’s a scary thought. But project opponents, including environmentalists, are skeptical. “There’s no evidence to suggest that we would see more trains,” said Rep. Frank Hornstein, DFL-Minneapolis, who opposes the Line 3 project. A few years ago, he and other lawmakers were concerned about the large number of trains carrying North Dakota’s Bakken oil through Minnesota. But oil-by-rail has dropped off significantly since then, and most of what is being produced is moving by pipeline. (MPR News)