PolyMet seeks $4 million loan from IRRRB

The Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board is expected to vote today on whether to grant a $4 million loan to PolyMet Mining Corp. The money would be used to help PolyMet develop a copper-nickel mine in northeastern Minnesota.

The vote comes as Iron Rangers try to hold lawmakers back from dipping into a regional fund derived from mining production taxes.

Defining “hundreds”

Yesterday MN Today compiled a series of maps that identified existing and planned mining projects throughout the Iron Range. We fell short of the “hundreds” of projects as described in a report by the Northland News Center quoting IRRRB commissioner Tony Sertich.

Sertich tells MPR News that he was describing the number of leads for new business opportunities in the range that includes mining and non-mining activity. He adds that the maps linked to yesterday is a reliable count of of active and proposed mining projects.

There are five new mining projects proposed in the Superior National Forest. The Forest Service will hold public comment periods for each project before they can advance.

Also clicking on MN Today

Red River at Grand Forks appears to have crested

It looks like the Red River at Grand Forks and East Grand Forks crested Thursday at a level of 49.67 ft. That would make it the third highest crest ever recorded on the river (WDAY).

The Red River flood in 41 Seconds

Relive each day of winter and early spring of 2011 on the Red River in downtown Grand Forks – in a mere 41 seconds. Watch this video collection of once-a-day still photos from Jan. 1 to Thursday, April 14, taken by the U.S. Geological Service with a Sorlie Bridge-mounted camera (Grand Forks Herald).

Court hears arguments in cell phone tower dispute

Both sides in the dispute over a 450-foot cell phone tower on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness had a chance to state their case to a Hennepin County District Court judge this week (Timber Jay).

During Capitol visit, Minnesota Vikings owner says he’s ‘very optimistic’ about stadium deal

Acknowledging the clock is ticking, Minnesota Vikings owner Zygi Wilf said Thursday that he’s “very optimistic” a deal can be struck on a site for a new stadium and the Legislature will approve a construction plan before it adjourns next month (Pioneer Press)

Carlson flies at snowboarding nationals

Alexandria’s Cody Carlson proved you do not need to be from the big mountains of Colorado to turn yourself into one of the top snowboarders in the country (Echo Press).

Insight NowIssue of the day

On fairness and taxing Internet sales

The discussion on whether Minnesota ought to depend more on sales taxes has raised an interest view of fairness when it comes to taxing policy.

The brick-and-morter merchants want parity with those who sell the same products via the web.

This is what Ward Einess, a representative for the Minnesota-based Best Buy electronic stores told state legislators on a hearing over whether to tax Internet sales:

“This is not the imposition of a new tax. The general law as we sit here today is that if you go into a bricks-and-mortar, Minnesota-based retail establishment and you make the purchase of an item that’s taxable, that same item is going to be taxable if you purchase it via the Internet, if you purchase it via a catalog or purchase it via any other remote vender.”

Critics say that any attempt to tax Internet sales would violate the Constitution’s interstate commerce clause – a battle still being waged in the courts. As we told you, Governor Mark Dayton’s budget proposal includes a provision to tax sales by websites based in Minnesota, such as PocketYourDollars.com. Other states are looking at Internet sales and are finding their own ways around the legalities.

But the fairness of taxing sales by computer has come up more than once in our discussion about sales taxes. And it’s not just a website vs. bricks-and-morter divide. It’s also one where you have to balance the large corporations and the mom-and-pop-sized establishments.

As we continue our discussion on consumption taxes in Minnesota, let’s pursue this: Should Minnesota look to raise sales tax money through Internet sales? If so, how should the state do this?

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