Good morning and welcome to Thursday. Here’s the Digest.
1. Minnesota’s median income has increased in the past five years, but some racial groups are left staggering behind. Those are just two takeaways from the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest American Community Survey, which studied Minnesota from 2011 through 2016. The whole survey is set for release on Thursday. While many of the trends are positive on the surface, they mask persistent racial disparities. The state saw an overall rise in median income from $61,000 to $66,000, the survey found, but median household income for black Minnesotan families was at $33,000. The unemployment rate for black Minnesotans dropped from 20 percent to about 10 percent, but there’s a significant disparity between the black unemployment rate and the overall state unemployment rate of 3.9 percent. (MPR News)
2. By a vote of 6-1, the St. Paul City Council on Wednesday approved a significant overhaul of the city’s skyway codes. The new rules don’t require that downtown St. Paul building owners close their skyway links at midnight, but they allow them to do so, eliminating longtime requirements that most skyways remain open until at least 2 a.m. Some building owners have said they’ll jump at the chance to close off skyway bridges as early as possible, given their experience with petty crime, litter and homeless residents camping out at all hours. In fact, several building owners had begged to no avail to be allowed to close skyway connections by 8 p.m. (Pioneer Press)
3. Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson said she will be a candidate in 2018 — but is in no rush to decide which office to seek. “It is still early. We are still more than a year out and we’re incredibly busy in the attorney general’s office,” Swanson said Tuesday. “Right now, I’m just focused on just doing that job.” Swanson’s decision would shake up the races for Minnesota governor and for attorney general. Already two Republicans and three Democrats have said they will run for Swanson’s office, assuming she vies for governor. And more than a dozen people from both parties have said they will run for governor. A Democrat who has been re-elected to be the state’s attorney three times, Swanson is considered a top prospect for a gubernatorial run given her name identification and past electoral success. (Pioneer Press)
4. Not everyone thinks it’s a good idea for state officials to restrain a bid to attract a major expansion by Amazon because of concerns of retail giants Target and Best Buy, which are already based in Minnesota. Some executives said Wednesday that they fear the deference to those companies shows that officials are more concerned about the state’s present than its future. “Unrestrained isn’t wise with taxpayer dollars, but I hope we are not holding back due to the current incumbents,” said John Tedesco, chief executive of Leadpages, one of the most successful startups in Minneapolis this decade. “The city has to continue to evolve and the companies that come here have to continue to evolve.” (Star Tribune)
5. Gov. Mark Dayton endorsed St. Paul mayoral candidate Melvin Carter on Wednesday. Carter stepped down from the St. Paul City Council three years ago to work for the governor on increasing access to early education and providing opportunities for students. He is executive director of Dayton’s Children’s Cabinet, though he has taken a leave of absence from the job to work on his mayoral campaign. (Star Tribune)