Minnesota House to reconvene for vote on $1.4B bonding bill

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota House reconvenes Wednesday for what could be its last chance to pass a $1.37 billion public works construction borrowing package, but it requires at least six Republican votes.

The legislation, known as a bonding bill, requires a 60% supermajority to pass. And the Democratic-controlled House must approve it before the Republican-controlled Senate can take it up, which could happen Thursday.

The bonding bill is the biggest piece of unfinished business left over from the 2020 regular session, which ended in May. With less than three weeks to go until the election, this is seen as the Legislature’s last chance for the year.


House Speaker Melissa Hortman, of Brooklyn Park, said Monday that she was confident of getting the six GOP votes needed by Wednesday.

The bonding bill would finance $1.87 billion in public infrastructure projects statewide once other funding sources are counted. The House version also includes some new spending and a business tax break.

House Republicans blocked previous attempts to approve the package. They wanted Democratic Gov. Tim Walz to give up the emergency powers that he’s used to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. They’ve dropped that demand but are now seeking budget cuts to offset the debt service costs of the bonding bill.

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Judge’s ruling puts competitive Minnesota House race back on track for November

A federal judge set up a competitive Minnesota House race to take place next month after the sudden death of a candidate in the contest appeared to set up a February special election instead. 

Judge Wilhelmina M. Wright of the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota granted an injunction requested by Rep. Angie Craig (D), the district’s representative, against enforcing the state law that would have delayed the election until February.

The ruling comes after Adam Weeks, the Legal Marijuana Now Party’s candidate running against Craig, died suddenly in late September. The timing of his death just 40 days before an election triggered the state law delaying the contest. The law was first passed in 2013 and postpones a contest if a major party candidate dies within 79 days of Election Day. 

Under the law, the race would remain on the ballot this year, but votes tallied for the district would not be counted.

Wright said the law would “unconstitutionally burden the rights of voters who have, or otherwise would, cast their ballots in the general election” and that “Representative Craig will suffer irreparable harm absent this Court issuing a preliminary injunction.”

The judge also noted that if no election is held in November, the constituents of the district will be without a representative between the time the next Congress is inaugurated and when the victor of the February special election is sworn in.

“If a preliminary injunction is not granted, two public-interest consequences will undisputedly occur. First, all votes cast for Minnesota’s Second Congressional District in November will be discarded. Second, every constituent in Minnesota’s Second Congressional District will have no representation in the United States House of Representatives for more than a month,” wrote Wright.

The ruling puts the race in the St. Paul area district back on track for November, setting up a contested battle between Craig and Republican Tyler Kistner. Craig flipped the seat in 2018 by about 5 points, but President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden campaign raises over M on day of VP debate Trump chastises Whitmer for calling him ‘complicit’ in extremism associated with kidnapping scheme Trump says he hopes to hold rally Saturday despite recent COVID-19 diagnosis MORE beat Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Memo: Trump between rock and hard place on debates Pence-Harris debate draws more than 50M viewers, up 26 percent from 2016 Not treason, not a crime — but definitely a gross abuse of power MORE in the suburban district by just 1 percentage point in 2016.

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Republicans Aim to Flip Minnesota Blue-Dog Democrat’s House Seat

(Bloomberg Businessweek) — Representative Collin Peterson’s reelection campaign got a call this summer about some trouble downstate in Minnesota’s 7th Congressional District. Farmers supporting the 15-term Democratic congressman, who chairs the U.S. House Agriculture Committee, had put Peterson placards up along a stretch of highway. The problem, according to the worried campaign volunteer, was that they were sitting next to signs for President Donald Trump.

“What do you mean, a problem?” an aide asked the volunteer, according to Peterson’s retelling of the conversation. “How do you think he gets elected?”

The exchange sums up the question at the core of this closely watched race. Peterson may be a Democrat. But he’s pro-gun rights and pro-life, and a founding member of the centrist Blue Dog Coalition. “At one time there were a lot of people like me” in Congress, he says. “I’m the only pro-life Democrat left. I’m the only NRA A+ Democrat left.”

So far, his social and fiscal conservatism has helped him fend off Republican challengers as his largely rural district in Minnesota has gone deep red. Trump swept the district by 31 points four years ago, making this the most Republican House district in America still represented by a Democrat. Will enough Trump voters split their tickets this time around and send Peterson back to Washington? Republicans are betting no. They see 2020 as their moment to flip the seat.

Peterson has his most formidable competitor in 30 years in Michelle Fischbach, a former Minnesota lieutenant governor and the first woman president of the state senate, who’s been endorsed by Trump. She’s hoping that endorsement and her emphasis on low taxes, border security, law and order, and other conservative issues will help her overcome the challenge of going up against a veteran House Agriculture Committee member in a farm-heavy district.

“She’s raising money. She knows how to run a campaign, and she’s viewed as a better financial investment by outside donors than previous challengers have been,” says Kathryn Pearson, an associate professor of political science at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. Campaign analysts at the nonpartisan Cook Political Report rate the race a toss-up.

Fischbach, 54, is touting a “fresh outlook.” She says voters “are tired of Collin Peterson. They are tired of Nancy Pelosi.” And she says Peterson “only votes with Republicans when it makes him look good in the district.” She’s also sought to tie the 76-year-old congressman to a “socialist” Democratic agenda. Peterson, who voted against impeaching Trump and who enjoys hunting bears and deer on his farm when not on Capitol Hill, says attempts to portray him as aligned with progressives such as Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez show that Republicans “have nothing else than to make up stuff.”

The two candidates aren’t far apart on fundraising, with Peterson taking in $1.23 million from January 2019 through July 22, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Fischbach brought in $1 million over the same period. She has significantly outspent Peterson, however.

But

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Interior Secretary’s View: ‘Made in America’ starts with Minnesota mining

Failed policies from previous administrations undercut the American manufacturing and mining industries, putting Americans out of work and China in the driver’s seat to control the products we rely on every day for electric power, communications, internet connectivity, and national security. President Donald Trump has championed policies to bring these jobs back to the United States, and his administration is continuing to take major steps forward to ensure our rightful place in the mining, processing, and manufacturing of critical minerals.

Following President Trump’s Executive Order 13817 in 2017, the Department of the Interior produced a list of 35 minerals — including rare earth elements and other metals such as lithium, indium, tellurium, gallium, and platinum-group metals — and determined that the supply chains for these critical minerals are vital to our nation’s national security and economic vitality.

The United States used to be the leader in mineral production and processing. Now, for 31 of 35 critical minerals, the United States imports over half of its annual consumption with no domestic production at all for 14 critical minerals. Everything from solar panels to smartphones to medical devices to the military equipment our soldiers need to protect our nation require these critical minerals. For many of these minerals, China largely controls the market for mining, processing, and manufacturing.

President Trump signed an executive order and declared a national emergency on Sept. 30 to expand the domestic mining industry. Critical minerals can and should be sourced from the United States by American workers, and the Trump administration is making sure this happens. The Department of the Interior and the rest of the federal government have been directed by the president to take bold action to support the mining and processing of minerals here at home.

Through his executive order, President Trump has taken decisive action to put Americans back to work and to restore economic growth. As directed by the president, I will be working with the secretary of Defense to examine how the presidential authority that we have been delegated can be used to provide grants to procure and install equipment to produce and process critical minerals here in the United States, which would accelerate the reopening and expansion of American mines and processing plants. This program could help ensure that new technologies are invented and manufactured in America and exported around the world.

Developing our critical minerals and production capacity at home is good for national security, good for jobs, and good for the environment. American workers are up to the task of efficiently and safely supplying these minerals. The United States boasts some of the strongest protections for workers and our environment in the world, which means producing and processing critical minerals domestically will result in a lower net environmental impact.

President Trump has made it clear that we will not put American workers on the sidelines by continuing to rely on other countries, particularly after the supply-chain disruptions from foreign markets we saw at the onset of the pandemic.

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Minnesota Democrat sues to have House race held in November

Rep. Angie Craig (D-Minn.) filed a federal lawsuit to allow her district’s House race to be held in November after a minor party candidate’s death pushed the election back to February. 

Craig, who is running to keep her seat for Minnesota’s 2nd Congressional District, filed a federal complaint to counter the state law that forces a February special election after Adam Weeks, the Legal Marijuana Now Party’s candidate, died suddenly last week. 

Weeks died 40 days before Election Day, which activated a state law mandating the election be delayed. No cause of death was provided. 

Under state law, Craig would be required to vacate her seat when the new Congress was sworn in and wait for the February special election.

Craig argued in a statement that federal law requires the election to proceed in November and that a February election would leave people in her district without representation at the beginning of the 117th Congress. 

“The people of Minnesota’s Second Congressional District deserve to have a voice fighting for them in Washington,” she said.  

“Unfortunately, the process currently in place would deprive Minnesotans of their seat at the table when critical legislation affecting our state will be debated – including bills to rid politics of special interests, ensure quality affordable health care for every Minnesotan and safeguard our family farmers,” she added. 

The Minnesota Democrat said she “strongly” urges voters to continue to fill out their ballots “to ensure that every Minnesotan has the representation they deserve in Congress next year.”

In her lawsuit, Craig alleges Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon (D) is “in clear violation of federal law,” according to CBS affiliate WCCO in Minneapolis

Craig is running against Republican candidate Tyler Kistner, whose campaign released a statement early Monday saying the Democrat “is trying to play politics with Minnesotans’ voting rights.”

“Despite Secretary of State Simon being crystal clear that there will be a special election in February, Angie Craig is trying to rewrite laws to disenfranchise voters,” his campaign said, according to WCCO. “The people in Minnesota’s Second Congressional District will not be fooled.”

His campaign noted the state law was passed in 2013 with bipartisan support and the backing of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor party in the state. 

The law requires the election to be delayed to the second Tuesday of February if a major party candidate dies within 79 days of Election Day.

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Minnesota candidate’s sudden death forces February special election for competitive House seat

The death of a minor party candidate running a long-shot bid for a competitive U.S. House seat in Minnesota will force a February special election, thanks to a bizarre quirk in state law.

Adam Weeks, the Legal Marijuana Now Party’s candidate running against Rep. Angie Craig (D-Minn.), died suddenly earlier this week. No cause of death was given.

His passing comes just 40 days before an election, close enough that state law will require the election be delayed.

The Minnesota state legislature passed a measure in 2013 that would delay a contest if a major party candidate dies within 79 days of Election Day.

The law came after the 2002 death of Sen. Paul Wellstone (D), who died in a plane crash that also killed his wife, his daughter and five others.

In the event of a death, the law requires a special election be held on the second Tuesday of February — in this case, Feb. 9, 2021, about a month after the new Congress is seated.

In a statement, Secretary of State Steve Simon (D) offered condolences to Weeks’s family — but he said the law is clear.

Major party status is conferred on parties whose candidate for statewide office receives at least 5 percent of the vote in a preceding general election. The Legal Marijuana Now Party won its status after their candidate for state auditor won 5.3 percent of the vote in 2018.

The delay will mean voters in Minnesota’s 2nd Congressional District — based in the St. Paul suburbs — will be without a member of Congress when the chamber reconvenes in January.

Craig, a first-term lawmaker swept to office in the midterm elections, won almost 53 percent of the vote in 2018. She faced Republican Tyler Kistner, a Marine Corps veteran who had raised just over $1 million through late July.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden on Trump’s refusal to commit to peaceful transfer of power: ‘What country are we in?’ Romney: ‘Unthinkable and unacceptable’ to not commit to peaceful transition of power Two Louisville police officers shot amid Breonna Taylor grand jury protests MORE beat Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDemocratic groups using Bloomberg money to launch M in Spanish language ads in Florida The Hill’s Campaign Report: Presidential polls tighten weeks out from Election Day More than 50 Latino faith leaders endorse Biden MORE in the suburban district by just 1 percentage point in 2016.

Democrats in Minnesota and Washington were consulting with lawyers late Thursday as they sought to understand their legal options. National Republicans did not immediately return a request for comment.

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Minnesota DFLers postpone fundraiser after backlash over Hugo protest

Minnesota House Democrats indefinitely postponed a fundraiser featuring a dozen DFL candidates after an influential law enforcement group voiced concerns about including a St. Paul Democrat whose actions and statements at a protest in Hugo sparked backlash.

The head of the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, in a letter to House Speaker Melissa Hortman, expressed “deep frustration” that John Thompson, an activist running for a St. Paul House seat, was invited to participate in the fundraiser.

Thompson, the endorsed DFL candidate for a St. Paul House seat, has faced intense criticism for a profanity-laced appearance at a Black Lives Matter protest outside the home of Minneapolis Police Federation President Bob Kroll. Video of the event captured Thompson and others beating piñata effigies of Kroll and his wife, a Twin Cities journalist.

“This is violent and outrageous behavior — and not just rhetoric — specifically against a police officer and his family,” MPPOA Executive Director Brian Peters wrote. “Anyone — including candidates for office — that supports Thompson’s candidacy to the [Minnesota House of Representatives] cannot be considered a supporter of law enforcement.”

Hortman’s initial response to MPPOA Monday evening suggested she planned to continue with the fundraiser. In a letter, the Brooklyn Park Democrat noted that Thompson apologized and has faced death threats in the wake of the incident.

“I have accepted his apology and will be working alongside him in future legislative sessions to improve the state,” she wrote.

But later Monday, the DFL Caucus reversed course and canceled the event via an e-mail to supporters.

In a statement about the decision released Tuesday, Hortman urged all Minnesotans to “come together to heal our state.”

“We understand that proceeding with the fundraiser would have conveyed to some that we condoned the conduct in Hugo. We do not,” she said. “This is a time to move forward from conflict and division.”

 

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Lessons From Listing Photos: This Refurbished Minnesota Mansion Leaves ’70s Decor in the Dust


It doesn’t matter how perfect your home is—if your listing photos don’t stand out, potential buyers won’t come by to take a look. In our series “Lessons From Listing Photos,” we dissect the smart updates sellers have made to their homes, and how their listing pictures highlight the home’s best assets.

The self-proclaimed slogan for St. Paul, MN, is “the most livable city in America,” but that doesn’t mean every house in the capital city is one you’d love to live in. This five-bedroom, four-bathroom home may be just miles from downtown, but it had definitely seen better days when it was purchased in 2018.


Thankfully the new owners were ready for a challenge. Out went the 1970s decor stamped in nearly every room, and in came a modern, relaxed style that brought buyers running. Within two years, the house was sold again, for $1,049,000—more than double the previous purchase price of $520,000.



So how did the home sellers make it happen? We tapped top interior design and home staging experts to find out not only what the sellers did exactly right, but also how you can use their advice to achieve the same success when selling your home.


Entryway


The entryway gives buyers a first impression of the house, and before the renovation, this space probably made more than one potential buyer turn right back around.

Designer and home stager Kim Gordon says the place even looked like it might have had a musty smell.

“The carpet up the stairs is dirty, and the drapes are wilted,” she notes. “Even with so little furniture, the space feels cramped.”


But the update managed to completely change the feel of the space, she says.

“The updated entry has utilized the magic of a white color palette and the contrast of rich woods on both the floors and the banister,” she says. “You’d never realize it’s the same fireplace.”

Gordon also notes that the updated staircase railing—which uses a darker stain on the original rail but new spindles—goes a long way toward modernizing the space. “Such a smart move,” she says.

The new space is now much more welcome to prospective homeowners, especially those looking for a place to entertain.

“To achieve an open floor plan, the back wall was widened and doors removed completely to allow for lots of space and an uninterrupted flow between the rooms in the home,” says Luciana Fragali, owner of high-end interior and architectural design firm Design Solutions.


Dining room


The original dining room could be described as dingy at best.

“Did Lincoln eat here?” asks Gordon. “The gravity of years has drained the room of joy, and it is past the point of charm.”

She was happy to see the changes to this space, saying a white theme with contrasting darker wood tones is the heroine again.

The brighter walls aren’t the biggest change in this room, though.

“A pair

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