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Feds release $4.25 million for flood repairs

County attorney finds no voter fraud in Kahn-Noor race; tax collections exceed expectations; medical marijuana task force appointed; and more.

Well, it’s a start … . The AP says, “The federal government has released $4.25 million to help repair flood-damaged roads in Minnesota. U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said Thursday that the emergency relief funds would be available immediately from the Federal Highway Administration. The money is in addition to an initial ‘quick release’ payment to Minnesota of $750,000 announced last month.”

Sorry, Phyllis … . Laura Yuen of MPR reports, “The Hennepin County Attorney’s office has found no evidence of a coordinated effort to improperly register voters using the address of a private mailbox center in Minneapolis. The preliminary findings come two weeks after the attorney for DFL State Rep. Phyllis Kahn filed a complaint that asked for an investigation into possible voter fraud.”

Speaking of taxpayer dollars … . Jeff Baenen of the AP reports, “State tax collections beat expectations for the final three months of the fiscal year, and Minnesota is now expected to finish the fiscal year with $168 million more in revenues than projected in February, state finance officials said Thursday. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton, who is running for re-election, took credit for the gain while Republicans downplayed its significance.”

Do NOT call it The Weed Force. Kyle Potter of the AP says, “Gov. Mark Dayton on Thursday appointed 16 members to a task force that will study the impact of the state’s new medical marijuana law.  The governor’s appointees to the Task Force on Medical Cannabis Therapeutic Research range from law enforcement officials to people who treat substance abuse to potential patients and their parents … .” But no Phish fans?

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Looking at state reports … . Christopher Snowbeck of the PiPress writes, “The abrupt closure of a large mental health center in March points to systemic financial challenges for similar centers across the state, according to a new state report. …  the report states: ‘Due to problematic reimbursement rates and processes for some mental health services, community mental health centers operate with very small financial margins, leaving them vulnerable to unforeseen financial problems.’”

The GleanCargill is besieged … . Bloomberg News says, “Cargill Inc. has suspended operations at a sunflower-oil plant in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine, where the government is battling pro-Russian separatists, and said the facility has been occupied by armed individuals. … Cargill, the largest closely held firm in the United States, has been present in Ukraine for 21 years, and has more than 700 employees there.”

Morneau-sy is in the Home Run Derby. The Strib story by … Master Tesfatsion tells us, “Justin Morneau didn’t make the All-Star roster, but Target Field will be his launching pad once again. The former Twins and current Rockies first baseman was selected on Thursday as one of the final participants in the Home Run Derby. Monday will be Morneau’s first appearance at Target Field since the Twins traded the four-time All Star and 2006 American League MVP to the Pirates last Aug. 31.”

The Scottsdale rock garden look will take a long time to catch on. But Elizabeth Dunbar at MPR says, “… fresh doubts about groundwater supplies are testing long-held assumptions that water is both cheap and plentiful. New technology, more aggressive pricing structures and shifting attitudes are beginning to change how some Minnesotans view and care for their lawns.”

That recent chatter — mainly from GOP sources — about a 2 percent spread between Al Franken and Mike McFadden by Labor Day? There are more credible prognosticators who doubt it. MPR’s Brett Neely says, “… in Washington, where a whole industry watches elections, Franken’s race is barely on the national radar. ‘Fundamentally, Minnesota has been behaving like a very blue state lately so the bar’s a little bit higher for a Republican candidate there,’ Jennifer Duffy, a senior editor of the Cook Political Report said.”

Gotta love these time-lapse clips … . First, a new bridge deck going up over 35-E in St. Paul. And second, the mega-crane at the Vikings stadium site. Both are from MPR.