Daily Digest: Steel deal runs into critics

Good morning and welcome to another Wednesday edition of the Daily Digest.

1.  Struggle over mining project. Gov. Mark Dayton heard many choice words — and delivered a few, too — during a town hall meeting on the Iron Range about a contentious mining project near Nashwauk where two companies are locked in a power struggle over the former Essar Steel site. Mesabi Metallics won the bidding last summer in bankruptcy court to take control of the Essar Steel site, beating out Cleveland Cliffs, which already runs three taconite operations in Minnesota. Many locals, though, remain loyal to Cliffs, one of the Iron Range’s largest employers, and don’t trust the upstart Mesabi Metallics to deliver. Most of the people who packed the Nashwauk town hall Monday wanted Dayton and other leaders to do something about it. (MPR News)

2. DFL probe of Ellison nears completion. Minnesota’s Democratic Party chairman says he expects an investigation of allegations of physical abuse against Rep. Keith Ellison to be completed and released soon, well ahead of the November election. A former long-term girlfriend accused Ellison of physical abuse last month, just days ahead of his victory in the crowded Democratic primary for Minnesota attorney general. The longtime Minnesota congressman and Democratic National Committee deputy chairman has called the allegations false and tried to ride out the storm of questions after winning the Aug. 14 primary. But the old sexual assault allegations that have thrown Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination in doubt have renewed focus on Ellison and a six-week old investigation into his conduct that has shown few outward signs of progress. (Associated Press)

3. Minnesota farmers’ loss, Canada’s gain? Canada, a relatively modest participant in the global soybean market, is poised to leap into the fray with a chance to boost exports to China, which has shunned shipments from the U.S. amid an escalating trade war. “There’s a big opportunity for Canadians to fill some of that void that we’re seeing” in China, Joel Merkosky, co-president of Johnston’s Grain brokerage in Calgary, said in a telephone interview. The conflict between China, the world’s top soybean consumer, and the U.S., the biggest exporter behind Brazil, means traditional trading patterns have gone haywire. (Bloomberg)

4. More MNLARS woes detailed. A new report from the Office of the Legislative Auditor details data accuracy issues with the state’s vehicle licensing and registration system (aka, MNLARS) that resulted in the overcharging of some customers for taxes and fees and undercharging others. The review covered MNLARS transactions from the time of the troubled system’s launch in July 2017 through February of this year. (MPR News)

5. New faces who don’t want to be pigeonholed. Several Muslim women are seeking elected office in Minnesota this year. And while their identity has played a role in their decisions to run, it’s not the only thing they want voters to see. Fardousa Jama is among them. She’s an immigrant, a millennial, a woman, and a person of color who’s running for Mankato City Council. She said she cares not only about minority issues, but other issues like affordable housing and education as well. (MPR News)

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