Daily Digest: New leaders in Minneapolis

Good morning and happy Tuesday. If we get lucky it may be the warmest day of the year, at least so far. Here’s the Digest.

1. The Minneapolis City Council lined up behind 10th Ward council member Lisa Bender as president and 8th Ward council member Andrea Jenkins as vice president, signaling unity between incumbent members and those who ran on an agenda to address racism and inequity in Minnesota’s largest city. During his inaugural address, Mayor Jacob Frey praised members of the city council, calling them “forward thinking.” “We can achieve remarkable things when we are justice-oriented and united,” he said. Frey said racial disparities exist in Minneapolis due in part to historical and intentional acts of discrimination. He said there’s a concentration of low-income housing in a few neighborhoods because of that history. Frey’s sentiments appear to be shared by members of the Minneapolis City Council who met for the first time shortly after the inauguration. Bender announced new committees that are aimed at addressing discrimination and affordable housing. (MPR News)

2. State Sen. Dave Osmek ended his campaign for governor on Monday. Osmek, of Mound, said he decided to suspend his campaign for the party’s endorsement this year after discussing the race with family, friends and supporters over the holidays. He cited a poor straw ballot showing at an early December Republican State Central Committee meeting, where state Rep. Matt Dean scored the win and Osmek finished a distant fifth. Osmek said the party needs to unite behind a strong candidate. (MPR News)

3. The federal farm bill is up for renewal this year at a time when farm incomes are dropping and food stamp demand remains high even while the economy improves, worrying some advocates who see Republicans in the White House and Congress looking widely for ways to cut spending. “It’s not going to be a revolutionary farm bill,” said U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota, who as ranking Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee will play a central role in congressional negotiations. “We don’t have the money.” (Star Tribune)

4. An incumbent-free race for Minnesota state auditor has gained its first Republican candidate. Former state Rep. Pam Myhra has registered a campaign committee and changed her Twitter handle to reflect a bid for the constitutional office that has been held by people who would go on to be governor. The current auditor, DFLer Rebecca Otto, is seeking the governor’s office this year. Myhra served two terms in the state House, representing the Burnsville area, before running as Marty Seifert’s lieutenant governor pick in 2014. Myhra was a candidate for Congress in the 2nd District in 2016 but dropped out early that year. (MPR News)

5. An environmental study exploring the viability of high-speed passenger rail service between the Twin Cities and Milwaukee has been shut down after two Republican lawmakers claimed it was a waste of taxpayer dollars. Last month, Rep. Paul Torkelson, R-Hanska, and Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson, objected to the Minnesota Department of Transportation accepting federal grant money to complete the study — largely because Wisconsin opposes high-speed rail.  Work on the study has stopped after just over $1 million in state and federal funds have already been spent on it. Torkelson and Newman were objecting to a final $181,682 grant that was expected from the Federal Railroad Administration. (Star Tribune)

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