Good morning and welcome to Wednesday of what is proving to be a pretty busy news week. Let’s take a look at the Digest.
1. Gov. Mark Dayton put some parameters Tuesday around Minnesota’s upcoming bid for the new Amazon corporate headquarters, saying the state will be “restrained” when it comes to tax and financial incentives. The Democratic governor stressed that Minnesota, with a vibrant economy and heralded labor force, has an attractive case to make for the e-commerce retailer’s second North American headquarters. But Dayton said any proposal must benefit the state more than Amazon. Plus, Dayton said, the state needs to be mindful about being unfair to existing corporations with Minnesota headquarters. Target and Best Buy are at the top of the list given that they compete directly with Amazon in the retailing space. (MPR News)
2. Retired Hennepin County Judge Rick Solum will mediate the budget dispute between the Legislature and Gov. Mark Dayton that resulted from Dayton’s line-item vetoes of funding for the House and Senate. The sides informed the Minnesota Supreme Court of the selection on Tuesday ahead of a deadline imposed by justices. The court ordered the case into mediation before it issues a final decision in the lawsuit filed by the Legislature this summer. Lawmakers sued after Dayton’s veto, saying he breached separation of powers with the action. A lower court sided with the Legislature and nullified the veto. Solum said he expects the mediation to commence next week but said nothing has been set. (MPR News)
3. Climate change, affordable housing, public safety and voter outreach are the key priorities in Mayor Betsy Hodges’ 2018 budget, the details of which she revealed Tuesday in a speech at City Hall. In her proposed $1.4 billion city budget she proposed raising the levy — the total amount of property tax the city collects — by 5.5 percent. She proposed spending $6 million for clean energy programs, and lifting utility franchise fees by half-a-percent to raise more than $2 million to help pay for those initiatives. Hodges also proposed spending $24 million on a range of affordable housing programs in an effort to prevent the displacement of lower-income longtime residents. (Star Tribune)
4. As federal lawmakers consider short-term repairs to the Affordable Care Act, a growing number of Democrats including Sen. Al Franken are looking more long term. The Minnesota Democrat announced Tuesday that he has signed on as a cosponsor of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare for All” single-payer health-care plan, calling health care “a right for all Americans.” In the short term, Franken — a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee that’s trying to address the most urgent problems — said the Senate needs to “pursue bipartisan policies that improve our current health care system for all Americans.” (Star Tribune)
5. After reviewing the results of a Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigation, the Scott County Attorney’s office has declined to file criminal charges against St. Paul City Council Member Dai Thao, a mayoral candidate.St. Paul Police had asked the BCA to investigate allegations against the council member involving a failed bribery solicitation. “The mere request for a campaign donation, without some evidence of a proposed quid pro quo, is not illegal,” states a letter this week from the Scott County Attorney’s office to the BCA. (Pioneer Press)