Good morning, and welcome to the day before Thanksgiving. Here’s the Digest.
1. Dayton says he wasn’t keeping his hospital stay secret. Gov. Mark Dayton said he had “nothing to hide” about the fact that he remained in recovery at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester for weeks longer than originally anticipated following two surgeries. Dayton, 71, underwent procedures on Oct. 12 and Oct. 15 to deal with ongoing leg strength and back issues. Those surgeries were successful, he said, but he experienced post-surgery complications with his lungs, which became inflamed and damaged. He said his doctors at Mayo do not know what caused the complications with his lungs. The governor was expected to return home several days after his surgery, but he’s remained at Mayo Clinic at the advice of his doctors for more than 40 days. Last week, MPR News first reported that Dayton remained in the hospital. Dayton said he was not trying to keep it a secret that he had not returned from Mayo, noting that some communications from his staff include mention that he remained in Rochester. In one email dated Oct. 29, Dayton announced that he would not be at the governor’s residence to personally greet trick-or-treaters for Halloween. The release attributed a quote to Dayton, “who is recovering from back surgeries at Mayo Clinic in Rochester.” He’s due to return to the governor’s residence in St. Paul today. (MPR News)
2. Should Minnesota’s Amazon bid be public info? A state judge is considering whether Minnesota’s failed bid to land the new Amazon corporate headquarters will forever be kept sealed or if a state agency’s role in crafting it makes every detail open to the public. Ramsey County District Court Judge Leonardo Castro listened Tuesday to 90 minutes of arguments over the still-shrouded plan to win a national sweepstakes that ended with two East Coast cities sharing rights to the e-retailer’s massive expansion. Public Record Media, a nonprofit dedicated to public disclosure, sued to unlock the rejected Amazon proposal, saying the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development and the regional business development group Greater MSP were part of a “coordinated attempt” to evade public disclosure of the offer that Minnesota put on the table. Lawyers for DEED and Greater MSP argued to dismiss the case and said all data that legitimately falls into the public domain is already accessible. The outcome of the case is relevant beyond Amazon because it could be a template for how future megaproject proposals are assembled, particularly those involving possible taxpayer subsidies and guarantees of fast-track approvals to private companies. (MPR News)
3. Pipeline protest shuts down improv show. Tane Danger has been hosting the Theater of Public Policy for 350 shows in seven years, melding topical discussions with improvisational comedy. For the first time Monday evening, he canceled mid-show after anti-pipeline protesters in the crowd continuously shouted down his guests, two utility regulators. John Tuma and Dan Lipschultz, members of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC), had been booked for the show at Bryant-Lake Bowl’s theater months ago. But acrimony from a PUC meeting earlier Monday — in which the panel reaffirmed its support for a new $2.6 billion Enbridge pipeline across northern Minnesota — migrated to the small but sold-out theater in south Minneapolis. On Monday evening, Danger started the show with a quick introduction, a skit by the Theater of Public Policy’s players, and then started interviewing Tuma and Lipschultz. As Tuma began explaining what exactly the PUC does, the hectoring started. Not long after, Danger told the crowd: “I’ve never had to say this before, but we can’t go on with the show. I will refund your tickets. This is not what you signed up for.” (Star Tribune)
4. Another plan for downtown St. Paul development. Four towers supporting an open-air shelf that stretches across the upper levels of St. Paul’s downtown to the river’s edge: That’s the third and latest plan for Riverfront Properties. The proposed development, which would double the size of Ramsey County’s 6-acre project to include another 6 acres of airspace owned by the Canadian Pacific Railroad and the city of St. Paul, received largely positive feedback from Ramsey County’s board during a workshop Tuesday. The court board recommended that its staff begin negotiations with AECOM, a Los-Angeles-based developer with local offices, for the project, which has yet to produce a price tag. Over the next six months, county staff will work with the developer not only to come up with a price, but also to further explore the feasibility of the most ambitious proposal for the site to date. (Pioneer Press)
5. State in compliance with Real ID law. The state of Minnesota is now in full compliance with the federal Real ID requirements, ending a yearslong saga that had left residents worried about easy access to airplanes and federal buildings. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security made the announcement on Tuesday. It comes after several years of political wrangling over the new driver’s licenses, which aim to tighten security standards. Minnesota is one of the last states to bring itself into compliance with the federal requirement. Until 2020, residents can continue to use their standard driver’s license or other state-issued ID cards for domestic air travel. By Oct. 1, 2020, Minnesotans will need to get a Real ID license or ID card for flights and for access to federal facilities. Passports will also be accepted as identification at airport security both before and after the switch to Real ID. (Star Tribune)
The Digest is taking a couple days off to give thanks. Have a great holiday, and we’ll see you next week.