Good morning. Take it easy on those icy streets and sidewalks. I wish I could tell you reading the Digest would help keep you upright. It won’t, but it’ll catch you up on your political news and that’s something.
1. “Perfect storm” delays special election ballots. Some voters in a critical state Senate special election have been having trouble getting their mail-in ballots ahead of Tuesday’s election. Senate District 11, which covers rural areas of Pine and Carlton counties, has more than two dozen precincts where the only option is to vote by mail. But the short time frame of the race, less than six weeks, and the unusually cold weather recently has delayed many of those ballots. It’s been a problem throughout the campaign, including a contested DFL primary, where several hundred ballots arrived late and were not counted. (MPR News)
2. Restoring felons’ voting rights. Renee Brown-Goodell is not shy about introducing herself as a felon, a label she has carried without shame after spending more than four years in federal prison for a 2012 fraud conviction. But it still stings that she was forced to sit out the past two elections: Her right to vote remains out of reach until she completes her post-prison supervised release. “I’m out here and I’m expected to work, I’m expected to pay taxes and take care of my family and behave like a regular American citizen should behave,” Brown-Goodell said. “And yet I’m not a regular American citizen because you have stripped away my rights to be a regular American citizen.” Minnesota is one of 22 states where felons cannot vote until they complete post-incarceration supervision, such as probation or parole. Brown-Goodell’s is the latest in a growing chorus of voices leading a renewed charge to change that, a move that could affect 50,000 to 60,000 Minnesotans like her. (Star Tribune)
3. Wielding axe, university woos legislators. Paul Bunyan’s Axe created a stir at the state Capitol as the university showed off the spoils from a celebrated football victory over Wisconsin last November. The Senate president hoisted the axe above his head in celebratory fashion. One more-diminutive lawmaker held it next to her to show how much the six-foot-long tool towered over her. The chair of the Senate’s Higher Education Committee recorded a quick video next to the axe to post later on social media. That chairman, Republican Sen. Paul Anderson of Plymouth, acknowledged the axe is an effective lobbying tool. (MPR News)
4. Better than “Home of the Polar Vortex.” Minnesota tourism officials launched a revamped marketing campaign Monday, encouraging visitors from across the country to “Find Your True North” in the state. “North helps define us in a way globally that we’ve never been able to achieve before,” Explore Minnesota Director John Edman said of the slogan. “I think it will really put Minnesota on the map in a new and unique way.” The campaign rollout, made during the state’s annual tourism conference, coincided with the tail end of one of the most brutal spells of winter weather in recent memory. As industry leaders gathered in St. Paul to plan on how to best woo visitors, sheets of ice coated roads and sidewalks across the metro, creating treacherous conditions for driving and walking. (Star Tribune)
5. Dayton mayor alleged to have taken more than $10,000 from festival account. The mayor of Dayton has been charged with embezzling thousands of dollars from a citizen committee in charge of the west metro suburb’s Heritage Day celebration. Timothy McNeil, 54, was charged by summons Friday in Hennepin County District Court with felony theft by swindle. “People in positions of trust, especially elected officials, have an absolute duty to conduct the people’s business in a manner that is above reproach,” County Attorney Mike Freeman said Monday. “Mayor McNeil used the organizational account like one would use their personal checking accounts.” (Star Tribune)