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Minnesota voter turnout drops, but likely leads nation

Plus: Medica health plans sell out in Minnesota; train derailment near Ellendale; Zimbabwe hunter who helped Walter Palmer kill Cecil won’t face charges; and more.

Good job, Minnesota. The Star Tribune’s Jennifer Bjorhus and MaryJo Webster report: “Voter turnout dropped in Minnesota, yet it was strong enough that the state has likely regained its No. 1 spot. … About 74 percent of eligible voters in Minnesota cast a ballot in Tuesday’s election, preliminary numbers show, bolstered by expanded early voting. … Yet Minnesota’s turnout was down from 76 percent in 2012 and 78 percent in President Obama’s historic first election, and Schier characterized Tuesday’s showing as a return to normal after Obama’s mobilization surge.”

You snooze you lose. The Forum’s Don Davis reports (via the Pioneer Press): “Minnesotans looking to buy new Medica individual insurance policies, but have not already made the purchase for 2017, are out of luck. … The state Commerce Department announced early Friday that Medica of Wisconsin and Medica Insurance Co. reached a cap on the number of new policies they are willing to sell. That means for most of the state, the companies stop selling policies to people who are not already customers.”

Sounds like it could have been a lot worse. MPR’s Catharine Richert reports: “An early morning train derailment near Ellendale in southern Minnesota led authorities Friday to evacuate the 688-person town. … Officials say they believe four cars in the 146-car Union Pacific train derailed but only two were of concern. One car carrying propane has a tear; the other, containing butane, is being evaluated but is not torn, Steele County Emergency Management Director Mike Johnson said.”

Someone’s smiling today. REUTERS reports: “A Zimbabwean court has thrown out charges against a local hunter accused of failing to stop the killing of the country’s most prized lion by an American dentist, his lawyer said on Friday. … Walter Palmer, a lifelong big-game hunter from Minnesota, touched off a global controversy when he killed Cecil, a rare black-maned lion, with a bow and arrow outside Hwange National Park in western Zimbabwe in July last year. … While Zimbabwean authorities said Palmer had legal authority to hunt, they were stung by the international outcry and charged local hunter Theo Bronkhorst, who assisted Palmer, with failing to prevent an unlawful hunt.”

In other news…

Rep. Ellison has a plan to boost voter turnout: “Voter Participation Is at Historic Lows. It’s Time to Rethink GOTV.” [The Nation]

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Bringing in a big gun: “Public housing veteran recommended to lead Minneapolis agency” [Star Tribune]

The Strib has a new biking feature called ‘iCycle’, borrowing branding from Apple circa the early 2000s — which, incidentally, was the last time it was cool to ride a fixie: “There are more cyclists than ever in the metro. Meet some of them.” [Star Tribune]

Beefing up their teams: “Timberwolves & Lynx Announce New Partnership with Jack Link’s” [NBA]

Have you started your holiday shopping yet? “St. Paul store sells art, oddities, curiosities and skulls” [Pioneer Press]

Certainly not if it’s anything like this fall: “Not so fast on cold, snowy winter” [Duluth News Tribune]